I went for my first run of the year. I didn’t realize how dead I had been till my feet hit the pavement and the warm sun reached down and touched my skin. I put on my running tank and pants, I reached to the back of my closet to my running partners forgotten in the cold of winter, and grabbed my unused tennis shoes. It was early evening, not a time I normally run, but the ache inside me was growing so restless I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
I love running outside. Running outside is 5% for my exercise, 10% for my health, and 85% for my emotional and mental sanity. For all the ways I live like a mild crazy person, one step already committed, winter has a way of bringing the walls closer and tightening the straight jacket just a bit more. Running for me has turned into one the deepest spiritual disciplines I have to keep the voices in my head from shouting at me. But I only run when its nice outside, not really what you would could consider a committed runner. So yeah, I definitely felt a little dead inside and the voices in my head have been blaring heavy metal music and throwing parties and the crazy upstairs has felt mildly out of control for the last few months.
Running is my therapy. And I got it back.
As my feet were hitting the pavement, my body found its rhythm with my hair in its longer than average pony tail hitting my back. The thumping and swatting reverberated through my body with the bass coming from all the cars I was jogging past. I love that about running in the hood. In the springtime, everyone's window down, blaring their music. I don't bring my ears with me to listen to my own music, because at every turn, when the music of one car or house fades, another picks up. The bass blaring, the music the perfect beat to pound the pavement.
The snow was melting revealing a ground that was muddy and mushy with unraked leaves. Pools of melted snow left me covered in water as I ran right through them. It felt as if the real world was coming back to me. As if with every step I was casting off the dry and damaged skin of winter, and replacing it with breath and warmth and sunshine.
I need to be a grown up and admit that Seasonal Depression isn't just a real thing, that but it is my thing. At the beginning of each season I love to hibernate and hunker down with paint and fabric and books. I also try to devise a plan to keep the greyness at bay, but by the end of a long and cold season, I have already spent so much time curled up on my couch, ignoring invitations to go out and not checking email so that I don't have to face all the people I am letting down by not having enough interest to respond. I have real people in my life that care and I love that they care, but they are going to ask, "How are you?" and I know its not a greeting. Its a real question. My choice then is to lie and say I am fine, or be honest where then they will need counseling from the verbal assault I would vomit on them. All scattered and broken and crazy and dark and lost. The sound of so many voices coming unglued in the isolation of our home in the depths of our dark winter. Where my hands aren't in dirt or touching real life, or feeling the wind and sun and grass and breeze. It is the essence of being outside that my body and soul need to survive.
So I hide.
But then spring comes and every breath in that first run quiets the voices and restores my withering spirit. The breaths get deeper and and my footsteps feel lighter. I feel almost giddy again as I run, even though my body is sluggish, my hope has been restored and I know I am going to be OK.
I am always amazed at how my being responds to spring. I am thankful for how it births new life in all the dark places of my spirit.
So if that is you as well, I am with you. You are not alone. Even though, yes you were most likely very alone this winter, I was with you in that too. In my own solitary castle built in the city and around my heart. I would like to tell you that you aren't crazy, even though maybe that small part of you is a tad on the institution side. It's OK. We all have it. Let's just admit that. I hope that spring can restore you as it does me. That it can give those other voices and expectations a place to run wild and not stayed cooped up with you.
It that isn't you and you stand on the outside not understanding the darkness or the crazy voices that talk to you all the time, that's OK too. Just be patient with us. Love us. Keep calling us. Keep asking if we are OK. We need it. We need to not feel forgotten or that we wrestle with life all the time. We need you more even tempered folks to balance us out.
And let's cheer to spring! To running as free therapy, to BBQ's and loud music. To sloppy streets that resemble the mess of life, and to honesty when life feels hard. I love how God is in those moments and he embraces us in the hope that spring brings.
We are never alone. Even when we might feel that way, hope is not lost.