Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Runners' Time


My girlfriend left me last week. Or was it the week before? I don't remember. Familiar reasons. Enough to make it clear that after only five and a half months it was over, properly over, scrunched up and consigned to the dustbin of history.

In my head anyway, or that part of my head that more or less manages to be rational. In my body, in our interactions, it rattles on, and of course it's hard to tell whether the rattling is the promise of further life, the death throes, or just the momentum of the falling corpse colliding with the walls of our tunnel vision.

This morning was particularly bad, so I put on my running shoes and headed for the canal. For the first ten or eleven kilometres it continued rattling in my head, in runners' time.

Runners' time is a bit like the time that existed in an infinitely small and sealed pocket at the moment of the Big Bang. It is the sum of all past things focussed into a thin film onto which are projected all the possible futures that you've worked, and are working through one by one. In runners' time you are that film, infinitely free and infinitely thwarted. You see more clearly, and can do nothing, you process as the emotions crash through you, all measured out in a steady pace.

And then I hit the bridge that was the turnaround point of lumpy loop I had only half-planned (with all of my optional detours added on, even through the nettles on the riverbank), and time changed. Because then, with about a third of the route to go, I counted the kilometres down, knowing that at the end I would stop. And one by one I let go of each enumerated resentment, each missed opportunity, each razor cut of petty cruelty, each unsaid word that might have been a poniard or a salve. And step by step future opportunities come into focus, and time explodes open.

And by the end it's all done. Past and present and future are reconciled, runners' time has not fixed the unfixable, but it's redeemed some part of my soul for this world and the next. Normal time begins, and the planet has subtle shifted into a subtly different, and ameliorated reality. I listen for the rattling, and I cannot hear it.

The temporal therapy of running: as if we needed more reasons to run.