Today I went for a glorious run. It was glorious for being totally un-glorious, physically, but pretty uplifting otherwise.
It's still cold (mid-30's) in Brooklyn, and I was going to just hit the treadmill at the gym because I really don't like running outdoors in the cold. BUT, it was sunny and I reminded myself that going for a run outdoors is one of the things I can't do when I have the kid at home with me (he's in daycare today). So I rallied to go, and though chilly, was immediately glad I did.
My goal for the run was to just go slow, maybe listen to a podcast, and not pay attention to pace at all. Both my achilles kicked back up to some pretty significant pain in the last few days, so taking it easy was my only choice. I did not set my GPS watch or press start on my running app. I did not pull up any running playlists or even start a new podcast--I just set out for an unmeasured, undistracted run.
The nice thing about running in the winter (or early spring), is that the trees are still bare of leaves, so you can see what's normally hidden. On this particular run through Prospect Park, I noticed for the first time a weird little wooden house set back from the street, with a small cemetery nearby it. Usually the area is obscured by foliage, but also usually when I'm running by this section I'm going fast(er) and focusing on pace--I treat it as a straightaway and try to sprint it. However this time, as I let my thoughts wander, my eyes did, too. And they both happened upon this spooky little sight, there all along, but largely unnoticed. I would have loved to explore further, but it was securely closed off by a fence. And trespassing is a form of stealing (Asteya), I'm sure.
Turns out it's an old Quaker cemetery, still in use but closed to the public. Who knew? Certainly not me, and surely not most other runners/bikers/walkers who also blindly traverse this path daily.
Every time I do succeed in slowing down in life and looking around, I'm often enchanted--or at least entertained-- by what I notice, especially here in NYC. We are really so disconnected from our surroundings these days, but it's those surroundings and the beings inhabiting them that make our daily life rich rather than mundane.
When I slowed down my running pace and limited my distractions, I was able to truly see what secrets my everyday environment held. Just as when I slow down myself, and limit the internal distractions of my own mind, I may be able to discern some of what's below the surface of the people I encounter and the world in which I'm existing.
Though the run itself was slow, cold, and a bit painful, it reminded me to let my senses take in my environment this week and stop trying to constantly monitor my progress or get to an endpoint.