I run by the water about 5 days a week.  Sometimes people ask me why I run, what I’m running from (I’ve been doing it consistently for about 17 years).  The answer would not so much be what I am running from, though there is some truth to that, but rather what I’m running to…I began running at 21, it started as a way to lose weight– in my obsessive anorexic mind I was fat and needed to shed pounds.  However, as I ran, something happened.  I would start out melancholy, drained, tired from the rollercoaster of thoughts in my mind; midway, things became clearer, my mind was aware of surroundings, the blueness of the water, the beauty of the trees standing majestic, butterflies fluttering to and fro, seagulls soaring together.  Call it endorphins or whatever hormones you want, as I ran my mental state changed.  Dread, despair, impossiblities would turn into euphoria, peace, possibilities.  I have run through the snow, hail, rain, heat, humidity, thunder, lightning, wind, whatever, my meditiation was/is my running.  Without even realizing it I was practicing MINDFULNESS, I was aware of the present, right then and there, how I was feeling, what was around me, etc…and somehow, even through DEPRESSIONS, I have had to run, knowing that in the end I would SEE differently.  Don’t get me wrong, there were severe depressions where I could not get out of bed, but how I missed running, and eventually I would lace up my battered sneakers again and get on my path to serenity…  Anyway, at one time, for a long time, there was one thing I would notice in my runs daily.  I would encounter this seagull, he had one leg.  He would stand on the gate of the pier watching the other birds in flight.  I actually related to this bird.  He didn’t seem to notice that he had one leg or if he did, he didn’t care.  I’d compare the seagull to myself.  BROKEN. I’d run past him every day at the same time.  I was never a big believer in signs, but I am starting to become one.  He would just stand on his one leg watching.  The first time I saw him I wanted to grab him and take him home, fix him (of course, this was a projection), in fixing him I’d be fixing myself… I thought there was no way he was going to fly, like I couldn’t… I’d imagine his thoughts, “I’m a useless bird, I can’t fly like the others. Oh how I long to be with them…”   The other seagulls were soaring in the sky already, they were whole, able to fly, but from the moment I could see him, about a mile from where he was standing, to the moment I reached him, he’d always just be staring.  My heart broke for him.  But that first day, when I finally passed him, I turned around and there he was flying towards that v-shaped flock of seagulls in the sky.  I exhaled…he could fly after all.  He was broken, but he could still be just like the other seagulls, enjoy being a bird.  I saw him daily after that.  It was almost like he was waiting for me, to tell me, “I know you too are wounded, you will take a little more time, but you will join the others one day in flight…”  So, today I still occasionally see him.  He sits and stares, I turn and he is flying.  Call it coincidence, call it a sign, call it God, whatever it is, it is another small reminder that Broken or not, one day we will all have the same courage and determination as that seagull, one day we won’t even notice that we were WOUNDED, and be FREE as we were meant to be…


5 Responses

  1. Beautiful! I had a similar experience some years back with a lame deer I passed while biking home. One of her legs had been badly injured. She hobbled alone from plant to plant, nibbling away. I ended up writing a song about her. I thought, there is no way she can make it more than another day or two being so lame and so alone. Deer travel in packs, in families, to protect each other. But she is too slow and so they’ve left her behind. I rode home and wrote my song and then said good-bye in my mind, assuming she would die out there, eaten by a mountain lion or hit by a car, or just not quite getting enough to eat. Then I saw her again, a month later, and then again. In my mind, she lives on. Somehow, she had found a way to survive with her limitations. Somehow she made it against the odds. And she also gave me a gift in that song which helped me access some part of myself that related to her.

    I just want to say I am really enjoying the writing on this blog, which I just discovered yesterday as a very new blogger on wordpress. 🙂

  2. Fantastic. I just wrote a similar piece on my own experience with freedom. Pretty cool isn’t it.

  3. That was amazingly beautiful and had such insight! It literally made me cry!! It also reminded me of a book my mother read to me years ago, called “Thy Friend Obadiah” written by Brinton Turkle. Everwhere the quaker boy Obadiah would go, this seagull was sure to follow. Obadiah didn’t like it, until one day the seagull wasn’t there. Obadiah found later that he had a fish hook wrapped around his beak and couldn’t speak or eat. Obadiah got rid of his frustrations and helped the bird, and they were friends ever since.

    I know it’s not EXACTLY what you are talking about, but it reminded me of it because it was one of my favorite books.

    I have depression and anxiety and know the feeling of being broken, or at least feeling like it. Your story reflects everything I have ever felt, except that I don’t run. *chuckles* But exercise DOES help and I should get back to that more often.

    Ok, my post is just rambling all over the place. My point here is that this is a beautiful story, and I’m glad that you shared it. 🙂

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