Charlie does not want to run, but he must. He does not want to sweat out the clothes he is wearing, but he does not want to change. He simply wants to sit and stare into the nothing. It is not always about doing what we want to do, Charlie. In fact, it is more often quite the contrary. The same can naturally be said of running. He must change his clothes and run.
We trample through life acting as though each step forward is by choice while our internal narcissist tells us that we are making the best choices. It is all an illusion. Maybe we should be choosing more of the choices that we do not want, the choices that are more difficult than floating through life with indifference and the entitlement that goes along with treating others like shit.
If there is a desire not to run, then this is the moment in which Charlie must run. It is February in Phoenix. Last week, it was raining and below freezing. Today, the sun screams down a strange piercing heat that stings the skin, paradoxical, yet more accommodating to the hallucination-inducing abusive runs Charlie prefers. A hoodie will ensure a heighten level of personal torture. These sauna-like runs are the only things that help Charlie quiet the spirits that consume him. They are ruthless and persistent, constantly scratching deep into his psyche. They run with him. He cannot fight them. He can only run faster, longer, and harder. Running with a sore body is easier than running with a sore soul. If a wall stands in his way, Charlie must swing punching until he can run through it. Whatever it takes, at this point, he must keep running.
They say last the last mile is the hardest. That second-to-last mile is the real bitch though. The finality of the last mile helps any beaten-down runner. What is there in the second-to-last mile to get you through other than another mile after this pre-conclusion of burning feet and primal rage ripping through the veins? Running with the emptiness, there is nothing to feel. Running each step with the winds blowing through the past, let the hounds have their way, a quiet god will have his say, the spirits dancing in the brush along the path. The gravel that digs into the toes is an escape from the numb drain of each rising moon.
Charlie laces his shoes with a single knot, because nothing is forever. It is not as warm as it seemed at first. Trample their temples with a pair of Nikes and a deck of Piedmontese tarot cards strew across the trail, hike up that mountain, turn up the heat, a blood offering spews from his fist, the dust trails behind, dripping down his fingers, red mud. His chest is tight; focus that beast forward, force the soles of those shoes off the ground.
Charlie likes his music loud and angry, dynamic yet simple, soothing and peaceful, songs of death and love. The songs of death a chemical reaction similar to the façade of happiness, songs of love a type of depressing void that pushes Charlie to run laps in the emptiness. He thinks of Sophia and Tony. His thighs push down harder, they do not seek more speed. They want to propel Charlie into a rage of nothingness. His calves explode down onto the pavement.
The concrete fights back, pushing Charlie to edge of losing bodily control. Charlie’s legs try to crack the path, pushing back, Charlie’s thoughts fade, now four steps behind Charlie, unable to catch back up. Charlie cannot stop until it starts to fade. He must go faster. Everything in Charlie tries to push him faster, every muscle in his body wants to sprint out of his body faster than the other. Nothing he does will let him forget. They will not let him go. He feels a collapse approaching.
What if he could cause himself to spontaneously combust? His toes are swelling. His toenails feel as though they are going to burst. His body wants him to stop. There is a point in which this intense fuel will merely cause injury, but Charlie has lost sight of the next stride. He merely streaks a wide escape of memory’s night terrors. That steep hill at the sixth mile of Charlie’s favorite 10.5K route approaches. Give maximum power and effort on hills to increase general running speed and stamina. Charlie lets out an anguished roar. Full speed up that hill, push it, push it real good, full speed up that hill. Don’t stop. Push it, dig deeper, faster, harder, pushit, all the way up that hill. Just like that, don’t stop, all the way up that hill. Harder.
Obviously, only the words in this post are a work of my authorship.