Friday, July 10, 2009

Running, Dancing, Being

I came to running fairly late in the game. In the sixth grade we were required to run a mile for P.E. About two laps into my run I had an asthma attack and decided that maybe the option for taking dance classes instead of compulsory gym held some appeal. So, from the age of 11 until 23ish I took dance classes fairly regularly. I loved dancing and enjoyed the physicality of the experience--contemporary jazz and modern dance lend themselves well to unconventional explorations of body and space and I enjoyed my time dancing and performing.

But, I was very aware that I was the biggest kid/adolescent/adult in every class I took and remember acutely a review in our local paper when I was a senior that noted my both my enthusiasm and unconventional body type. I laughed it off--silly critic! But, the fact that I remember this comment 12 years later is striking. I received repeated messages throughout my young adult hood that I had no business being, gasp, athletic or even active.

But, I refused to defer to these messages. In college I discovered the freedom of a bicycle in the small town where I went to school. I had no car and as time passed I began to realize the freedom accorded by my two wheels. Whizzing down hills and getting to town from my first, small, summer apartment was amazing. The bike, still blue but now a bit rusty, is still the bike I ride to the closest coffee place or library.

Then, in my early 20s I couldn't afford dance classes anymore. The 10-12 dollar a class fee just ate too much of my youth ministry salary and I couldn't justify the expense to myself. So, just to see if I could, I tried running--for 5 minutes. Then a bit longer...until I was routinely running 4 miles at a go. It was a wonderful stress reliever and felt such pride when people would comment about my athleticism (a novelty amongst the clergy and inner city folk who I spent most of time with). It was a new concept for me...athletic.

So, I ran and continue to run. Not years as a pediatric chaplain left me too tired most of the time to entertain running as an option (one of the many reasons why this wasn't the healthiest call for me). So, now 30, I put one foot in front of the other--trying to get back the distances of a few years ago but really mostly okay with a couple of miles most of the time.

So, I run--and running is dancing--and dancing is living--and living is daring to do the joyful things!

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