Sunday, 29 July 2012

On Running: A Note On Literary Inspiration

I've been running on and off the past two years. My routine almost daily; 4 to 6 days per week covering 5 to 10 km per outing. Last month I fell into a funk. I had no desire to run. Lethargy and apathy took hold of me and I cut back to maybe once a week. I chalked it up to being too busy with job hunting (true about the hunt but the time consumption should not have cut that deeply); too busy with school and blog writing (I contribute to an online music magazine All lies. What I needed was an intervention - not  in the classic sense - something to inspire me. Get me back up on my feet again.
Funnily enough, I found my running inspiration within the confines of a short story. One penned by Stephen King. I discovered "The Gingerbread Girl", in King's short story collection "Just After Sunset". It's the story of a woman, Emily, who is metaphorically running from her past. She's also physically running in her present life in search of hope and the desire to keep living for the future. At least that's my interpretation.
The way King writes about her running progression - Emily starts at her front door and barely makes it to the end of her driveway - out of breath, out of shape. She starts with baby steps; going farther and farther each day. The running becomes all consuming and her daily ritual becomes a soul soothing balm. Shielding her from a tragic occurrence in her past, it becomes the most important facet of her daily life. But just as we start to think that perhaps this obsessive behaviour is detrimental to Em's health, a very twisted story unfolds (how very Stephen King of you!). The physical training that Em's body has endured over the past few months become the most important thing in her life - her increased physical strength comes in handy to say the least. Emily wakes up to the notion that life is worth living when hers is threatened. There is nothing more life affirming than the notion of some psycho wanting to end you before you're ready.
I love that this character whose life is adversely affected by tragedy at the beginning of the story, becomes a physically (and eventually, mentally) strong woman whose outlook on life once again changes with the advent of an even greater tragic event. In the end, the running is what keeps her sane, strong and helps her to endure.
Yep - I think I'll keep on running. Can't hurt, can it?

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