Monday, October 27, 2008

Joys of Running

This was written in July 2008. I'm posting it as a reminder of the importance of seeking out experiences that help us to connect with life.

I was reminded today of one of the reasons I like running so much -- because it occasionally encourages me to go exploring, looking for unexpected and beautiful places nearby.

We're having our first relatively cool day in Ottawa in some time -- only 22 degrees. Because it was so fresh this morning, I decided it was a good day to go for a long run and check out the dirt track I'd noticed heading into the green space beneath the hydo poles a kilometre or so from our house.

An inspired notion as it turned out. Just a short way down the trail, the sounds of the city were a distant hum and I felt as if I was deep in the country - surrounded by riotous yellow, pink and purple wildflowers, colourful dragonflies flying in close formation beside and in front of me. Passing small woods and bushes, I caught glimpses of cardinals and other birds disturbed (momentarily) by my passing. I breathed in the sweet smell of fresh air wafting from the plants and trees around me.

After a couple of kilometres, the trail became a narrow track, then disappeared altogether where it met two sets of train tracks, which I followed for a short while before coming to another lightly travelled road. Pausing to catch my breath at a fence separating the tracks from the road, I was treated to the sight of a freight train as it passed by, the engineer cheerfully waving hello.

A short way down the road, I spotted a somewhat overgrown dogwalking trail that appeared to lead riverward, so I followed it for a kilometre or two as it wound through fields filled with hip-high grasses and wildflowers, and damp woodland offering a reprieve from the hot sun that was occasionally breaking through the clouds.

Eventually, the path took me to and then along grassy riverbanks, across a narrow bog -- where my feet were kept dry by an assortment of rocks and wood planks laid there by previous walkers -- and through more woodland until finally I reached a cheerful grassy spot beside the river furnished with an assortment of (apparently) donated chairs and benches. An elderly gentleman and his dog resting there helpfully directed me to a nearby residential street from where I turned homeward.

Plodding the last few kilometres to our house along busy urban roadways, I meditated on the breathtaking beauty I'd just witnessed, and how lucky I was to have the time, energy and good health to run. Here's hoping there are many more such adventures in my future!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Then She Found Me

So I've just finished watching Helen Hunt's beautiful film "Then She Found Me". Funny and complicated -- like its characters -- it portrays the joys of love, the pain of betrayal and the transcendant power of foregiveness.

And forgiveness is transcendant, isn't it? Imagine if forgiveness were practiced by every single person on this plant -- if, rather than seeking vengeance, we chose to reach deep inside ourselves to find love, empathy, compassion and forgiveness.

And by forgiveness, I don't mean forgetfulness. It's easy to forgive when we also forget, but so very much harder to forgive when we don't or can't forget.

Another theme of the movie is the central and complicated role of family -- the families we're born to, the families we choose, and the families that choose us. I loved that Hunt's portrayal of family was so complex. The reality is that, even when we deeply love and respect the members of our families, we sometimes hurt and betray and find it nearly impossible to forgive them.

And - really - what hope is there for humankind when we can't forgive even our own families?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Getting started

I've read that the most important thing when starting a new blog is to choose a subject you're passionate about.

Well, what I'm passionate about is life.

What's it for? What makes it worthwhile? Why are we here? Why is there so much joy, pain, beauty, ugliness, caring, and injustice mashed together in this world?

My quest isn't a religious one exactly, though it may be spiritual -- or perhaps it's one of self-discovery. I suppose that's the first question: When searching for the meaning of life, should you start by looking within or without ?

It may also be a quest to rediscover the best parts of who I was -- before I became the cynical, discouraged 40-something woman who wants to be the most creative and loving person she can be, but too often finds herself caught in an endless loop of self-doubt, small-mindedness, pragmatism and fear.

So let me begin with this quote:

Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise,
risking more than others think is safe,
dreaming more than others think is practical, and
expecting more than others think is possible.
Is it possible to live that way? Should one even try?