my mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west…

I started running again, it’s been slow work.

We started last year and then we had a wild fire that filled the air with smoke and along the way a flood and an icestorm that caused the trees to explode and then well it was all too much.

In the midst of all this was an election. Maybe that is what made it all too much.

I have struggled with pace. I take off too fast and then fade away, gasping along the trail like the old man I am. The answer apparently is the Grateful Dead, as Greg says when you lose the rhythm if you just keep going you’ll find another rhythm. This is the Dead philosophy it seems. I am slowly finding my/a rhythm again. Its not going to break any records but it does make me feel better and more alive and somewhat centered.

The Dead’s random shifting shuffling rhythms are the perfect pace for a 50 plus year old man to struggle his way around the trails at home, not ready to head out onto the road yet so trail running it is until the weather deteriorates to the point you have to stumble along on the asphalt because the mud is too thick. Luckily we live on enough space we have managed to carve out third of a mile circuit through the woods. It’s less embarrassing than when I will have to gasp my way past the kids waiting for the school bus.

30 plus years ago I listened to Europe ’72 sitting on the stoop and drinking Red Strip Lager. I was not a fan of the Dead really for all the reasons about the disappointment of the name until the moment China Cat Sunflower started. Then the dancing and swaying began, then there is the timeless merge into I Know You Rider, the perfect moment in the Dead canon. The perfect segue from one song to the other in jam band psychedelic cowboy perfection. In the day of drunken garden dancing it is perfect you can sway twirl and fall about in a happy state of delirium it may actually be the perfect Dead moment and makes up for all the disappointment of the name.

This is my opening track for the Dead running playlist. Sometimes as I hit some sort of stride I start thinking on those misty hazy days sitting on the stoop and dancing. Greg would insist I have no real dancing ability, I however think that my wild gyrations are a perfect accompaniment to America’s jukebox in the Dead. Michelle however still refuses to dance with me during my more expressive moments. Of course if I worried about all that I would never dance, or run for that matter. Other times I just go with the flow of the music and terrain, avoiding snags and ruts and the other dangers in some weird moment, the mist on the meadow and in the treetops and occasionally the rabbits fleeing my gasping steps.

Tomorrow however I go in for cataract surgery and they will make me stop running for an undisclosed time, undisclosed because I have not asked but I know it’s gonna happen, apparently. Apparently I will not have to wear my glasses for distance so for the first time in 45 years people will see this ugly mug without the glasses, terrifying. People keep pointing all this out as a plus but I am not so sure it is. I have been hiding behind my glasses for a long time, the little Lennon circles that go dark in the sun and make it so I can milk eye contact but others can’t, not sure what that says about me.

8 thoughts on “my mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west…

  1. Good luck with the surgery, which if I understand correctly is today so you won’t see this comment for a week. I learned recently that I have cataracts forming… one more eye problem to further degenerate my vision. It’s interesting how you mention graduating from running trails to street. I see it the other way where running trails is the ultimate goal of running.

    1. I survived surgery, got a bit weird for a while but cheap sunglasses and reading glasses kind of make it for awhile I guess. Does it count if the trails are your back yard? I am afraid of the rural roads but a hi vis jacket should work, the mud will get too bad by November I think.

      1. I guess backyard trails might get old. I ride my mountain bike in circles over obstacles around my tiny backyard. I can only handle a few minutes at a time. High vis plus flashing lights.

  2. Good luck with the surgery, best from all of us here! Man, taking up running, you are a trooper! I tried it but had to give it up – turned out my knees are facked from all the years of basketball and now I’m in physio for it (and I’m just a couple years younger than you). Sigh. I admire your ability to have healthy legs, and your will to get ‘er done!

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