The Runner

I have spent my entire existence chasing life. I have been running behind it with my hand out missing it by mere inches every time I come close to grabbing it. There has been times when I have come close, I could just graze it with the tips of my fingers only to have it speed up and become just out of reach again. It has felt, at times, impossible to even see, it being so far ahead on the road. Other times I find myself out of breath needing to take a seat and a drink of water before beginning the chase once again. By then I am so far behind I have to run blindly, hoping I am on the right trail, hoping I can one day catch a glimpse of it.

I have spent my life as the slow kid, just a touch out of shape, and with the wrong shoes, trying to catch up with all the others who seemed to be jogging at a nice steady pace. There they were, the fast kids, all in step, running heal toe as if it was nothing, as if chasing life was as simple as just reaching out an grabbing it. They never seemed to have a problem keeping up with life. I could never figure it out. I would watch them run so effortlessly pass me. As the wind blew past my ears a loud swish sound would consume me and anger would well up inside. Every time, I would decide it was time for me to catch life, I would convince myself that I could keep up, and this time I was going to finally get it.

I would sprint harder to catch up with the fast kids. I would sprint until my muscles ached and my heart pumped so hard it could just explode in my chest. And there I was with the fast kids hanging on by a thread reaching out to grab life as they did, in that moment, my calves would cramp and a stitch develops in my side. I feel myself slow down, limping on the hurt leg. I could feel myself needing to take deeper breaths just to keep myself from passing out. My vision would get blurry, I would reach up to wipe my eyes with my sweat soaked hands, only to have them burn from the salt on my skin. And there they went again, the fast kids steadily jogging at their pace. I could not be left behind again, so I would push harder.

I would run through the pain, move this out of shape body as fast and hard as it could go to catch up. I would be next to them, out of breath and in pain but with a smile on my face as to not let on. Those kids, those long legged kids taking their big steps in perfect sync they would look over and say “nice day for a run” and I would nod. There was no way for me to speak, not now, not when all the air my lungs could hold was going to keeping at this pace and most of all keeping me from passing out then and there, I could not speak, so I would nod and keep running. And there was life, right there finally within my reach.

Life in all its bright and beautiful glory was finally in front of me, of all people, it was there for me to grab. This slow, out of shape, kid was no longer so far behind that life looked like a tiny spec in the horizon. It was there, clear as day, waiting for my to take hold of it and never let go. I would reach out and try to touch it when I feel the pain, and it is  the worst pain ever. My ankle twist from under me, I can feel the tiny bones crack as my foot hits the hard pavement. I fall to the ground tucking my head in as I tumble off the path and into the dirt. I grab my ankle still unable to breath, I hold it close to me and try to keep it steady. I look up at the fast kids. They look back at me. I stick a hand out longingly. I plead with my tired eyes for one of them to stop and pick me up, keep me going even if it means they have to slow down for just a little while. They all look to each other and shrug, one yells “sorry kid, we’re making good time” and they jog on.

There I am in the dirt not able to stand let alone run the race. I am stuck miles behind holding my ankle close watching as everything and everyone passes me by. I am alone, trying to heal so one day I can get up and run the race once again.

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