Friday, August 5, 2011

'Fleas' for the Mind

Summer mornings come entirely too early for me...but for a reason you might not be expecting! I really like this time of year, how daylight stays with us for so long in the evenings, how it's actually light out for a couple of hours after dinner, long enough to take a stroll or bike ride, or work in the garden for a bit as the day cools down. But I'm torn between enjoying or dreading the early sunrise. You see, in summertime, here where I live, sun peeking over the horizon is synonymous with early morning temperatures over 80 degrees.

So when I woke up the other day at 6:45 AM, it was beyond was full-blown daylight out there! I'd overslept! I groaned, rolled out of bed, and changed into running clothes. Then I moved toward the door, bracing myself for a miserably hot run.

I don't know about you, but if I don't have something interesting or constructive to think about while I run, especially when conditions are less than ideal for running, I'll channel all of my mental energies into dwelling on negative things, like that new ache or pain, the boring route, my snail's pace, the sweat dripping off my elbows, the wad of sock rubbing on my big toe. And then I'm miserable. Not good. If I can conjure up something interesting, something to really sink my mental "teeth" into...good. If it's something colossally beefy to keep my mind occupied for a really long while...even better.

A friend of mine is writing a book, a true story about an incredibly adventurous trip he took earlier this year. He's doing the writing and I'm doing the editing. It's a fascinating story and he's doing a great job writing it, which makes my job as editor an easy one. But there have been a few passages that we just can't seem to conquer. We've "word-crafted" these short sections several times, but they just never sound quite right. So this morning I wrestled with a couple of them in my head while I ran, rolling them around on my "mental tongue," looking at them from different angles, trying out different approaches and different word choices, and then reciting these changes in my mind to hear how they sounded. Well, I gotta tell you, those four miles just flew by! I never once thought about the heat, or the humidity, or how much I wanted to get this run over with.

Before I knew it, I had turned onto my street and was heading toward my house. With the morning run complete, difficult book passages possibly resolved, I sat down at the computer, sweat still dripping, to record those words before I forgot them.

I find a certain humorous analogy in the following quote: "They say a reasonable amount of fleas is good for a dog - keeps him from brooding over being a dog..." ~Edward Noyes Westcott, successful NY banker and writer.

My prayer to the run gods: May I never be at a loss for 'fleas.'

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