"Walking!" I call out firmly. "Walking!" I say again, my voice raised slightly as I follow a Kindergartner down the school hallway. He manages to slow to a skip and then, reluctantly a walk.
It cracks me up how little kids run everywhere. I remember my nieces and nephews at 4, 5 and 6, dashing across the living room or down the hall to their bedroom. In school we set aside places to run, mostly to avoid collision. It's sensible.
But I wonder about the impulse to run. Is it about being in a hurry, everything you want or every place you want to be, you want NOW? Is it about having a small body with untamed energy? Or the irresistibility of a long open expanse in front of you, huge from the perspective of being two feet high, and way too many steps to take to do it in a walk? Is the impulse to run because the ability to make your legs move, so fast, SO fast, is like being a superhero?
I remember the sheer joy of running, no purpose but to feel the wind in my face, a gloriously alive feeling I had no words for. Freedom. Possibility. Whole.
What happens to that energy we ask children to give up, to channel only into cognition? Is this how we begin to separate our minds and bodies, and use our bodies to exhilaration only at PE time, in the limited context of rules, and turn taking and staying in lines? And so we lose that sense of running headlong into a space so much bigger than ourselves, that we feel untethered, as if we could one day jump off the planet and fly.
Is this why as adults we make schedules that keep us "running" in a different way? Do we imagine if we keep moving, from task to event to task, that we might regain our freedom, our power? Do we do it with or without joy?
I feel a kind of envy when I watch people who are dedicated runners, whether in competitive sports or as a hobby. I watch them soar over hurdles or pour down the hill of a marathon, running headlong with strong bodies that snub noses at gravity or carve a determined space through the air as they go.
If you hurry through your day, is it a headlong joyful dash into what matters most, or a careless haste to move, driven by the loss of something you can't name?
"The long run puts the tiger in the cat." Bill Squires, coach