On Running

I wake up jittery. Being in bed seems inappropriate. Even though I’ve only had 6 hours sleep annoyingly I have some excess energy because I am overdue for some physical exertion. Its bright outside and I like the idea of starting the day off with a run, so I get up and grab the first pair of shorts I can find – in this case the pair of brightly coloured swimming shorts dad foolishly lent me once and are now in my permanent possession – and I’m off!! I’m kind of clumsy to begin with, my mental enthusiasm is more advanced than my co-ordination at this point – so I make more sound than I intend to and as a result I unfortunately hear tyler next door turn over – that’s my fault. I’m also sluggish, my body having to rapidly adjust to being vertical and moving at speed. But once I’m on the street facing the long straight pavement ahead of me, I get into my groove, push against the perpetual resistance and insistence ‘no’s’ and get stuck into it.

Familiar landmarks sail past me as I get lost in my thoughts. In this zone good thoughts eventually begin to emerge. The same part of me that is silencing the insistent sluggish no’s is actively assessing my day, my week, my decisions and aspirations and how I’m doing. I coach myself. I am given targets and goals, new visions and a pep talk. After a while, the sluggishness gone, the rhythm established, new feeling start to emerge, my muscles are warm rubber right now, I feel a healthy mist about my person, and beads of moisture now adorn my brow – I become aware of the incredible sunlight, and the force of the cool song I am listening to and eventually it hits me in an incredible rush of good feeling – the endorphin fairy is here! WOOOHOOO!! I can barely contain my enthusiasm for being alive right now! I am sprinting, running fast, smiling and laughing!! I am a running, laughing crazy person! Eventually I simmer right down and this feeling of total awesomeness is replaced by a burning sensation in my throat, and I become aware of the tightness around my ankles and right shoulder. But happily determination dominates and I make it to that landmark, and then the next one, stretching my comfort zone. Eventually I quit – usually just before I should. I flop my way over the road and along the street, flop my way up the stairs to the house and flop onto a chair, feeling a contradicting mixture of floppiness and invigoration. As the floppiness subsides I feel calm and optimistic about the day ahead. BRING IT.


On Light

Light is one of the most beautiful features of this world. Urgently but efficiently it travels thousands of miles through the cold crisp emptiness of space to finally alight on the tip of my wooden chair by the window. It is quiet and does not demand my attention – it is happy to remain on the periphery of my vision, to garnish the morning with a delicate grace. It has the unspoken dignity and goodness of kindly professors and religious leaders with the creative range of the greatest musicians.

Sun light is particularly accomplished. I don’t know which is more beautiful – thick rich sunsets, swimming in reds and oranges, or that subtle glow of amber on the tip of the wooden chair by the window. It can be crisp and full as on days when the sky is cobalt blue, when it cuts out and defines every thing, yet it can hang softly and glow in the mist of autumn mornings.

Despite its silent humility and beauty, Light is a physical necessity. It is incredible to think that all these intoxicating displays actually produce the food I eat and define the rhythm of my daily life. Sunlight sets a pace for my internal body clock. I sleep when it leaves and wake when it returns. I am happy for my daily routines to be defined by something capable of such diverse, mesmerising beauty, and feel honoured that my physical make-up is so inextricably connected to it.


On Saturday Mornings

Waking up on saturdays is characterised by that joyous in-between moment where my sleeping self encounters my waking world. Rather than the startling electronic shock of my relentless weekday alarm – EEH! EEH! EEH!- on this day my dreamworlds get to dissolve and melt into consciousness. I am left mesmerised and inert by the process, and enjoy a state of warm contented dopiness until ready to move forward.

Normal procedure is then to make sense of what kind of day it is outside. Before i muster up the energy to move anything, I pick up clues from the kind of light coming through the tiny cracks in the shutters. If it gleams, we’re storming. I’ll prise open the curtain gently and the good news will be confirmed by an immaculate, glowing slice of blue sky – amazing!

Possibilities and opportunities in this day start to pop in my head like corn. The day is enriched just by thinking about them and i start to get jittery. On this day I decide to sneak out and make Mike breakfast. So I get something on and slide down the hill to the supermarket on my bike, through a cloud of finely dispersed grass, freshly mown – it smells warm and hovering on the edge of my consciousness is the feint memory of a similar experience in my childhood. The memory gets lost in the music I am listening to, the enjoyment of which is amplified by the bright sunlight, my sense of freedom, the speed at which I am travelling.

Back at the house, Mike is resisting the day’s insistent presence with the aid of an eye mask, but eases into it gratefully when I bring him poached eggs on buttered toast and fresh orange juice. We review our adventures of the previous evening or take our time to narrate left over stories from the week we never got round to covering in the in between moments of our busy weekdays. Then I hop in the shower and, in the absence of my customary sense of urgency and efficiency, take an interest in the way the water explodes off my back, splatters and dribbles down the glass walls, congregates at the base and works its way downwards to the drain, all of its own volition.

Because I can, I procrastinate dressing. My bed seems soft and warm and lures me back in. So I flip open my Mac and start writing.

On Whistling

Whistling is surely one of the neglected bonus features of the human being. If Q was explaining the capacities and functions of a human to Mr James Bond, surely the capacity to whistle would raise a suave, curious eyebrow. Yet once the lofty aspiration to whistle is mastered by the child, after some frustration and dribbling, most of us sadly take this inbuilt instrument for granted.

I like the humble, cheerful and whimsical associations with whistling. For some reason I think of old irish men who drink whisky and waddle home – while whistling – to disapproving and bearded wives. Hearing people whistle instantly makes me feel happier inside. However, I do wonder whether the emotional range of whistling has been fully explored and appreciated. I for one would be interested in attending a concert, perhaps at the Palais Garnier in Paris, where men in tuxedoes explore the heights and depths of human emotion and express the nuances and subtleties of human existence – through whistling.

It is possible that a proposition for such an event was vitoed due to health and safety precautions – as, according to the Koreans, Japanese and some in the South of India, whistling attracts snakes. Whistling is also believed to bring bad luck by stage performers, and Hawaiians. More pertinent to myself -and here we come to the crux of it – the Russians and Serbs believe that whistling brings about poverty. Little did I know this seemingly most innocuous of human practices could be so effective in bringing about the absence of the prosperity I anticipated as a frustrated, dribbling child.

However on the upside, sailors believe that whistling encourages the wind to blow, and this perhaps might explain the number of opportunities I have had to travel throughout my life. So, recklessly, I will continue to whistle – I am poor but on the move, I am like Bob Dylan in the old days, I am a rolling stone that gathers no moss, I am blowing in the wind! … and I’m broke.