On Top of the World

By , Greenwood Lake, NY
Falling into the seemingly endless rhythm of putting one foot in front of the
other I ignore the agony in my legs and lungs and push onwards. My entire body
pulses with the rhythm of my steps thump-thump thump-thump a perfect union of body and mind. The trick to running is to keep your mind off of the burning in your muscles, and I’ve long since mastered the art. When I started this impetuous quest of trail running, I tripped four times in the short mile-and-a-half run. But with a dedication worthy of an epic adventure, the craft of carving through the labyrinth of rocks, roots, depressions, logs, inclines, and streams has become nothing short of second nature to me, and now I breeze through seven miles without a hitch, not even a stumble. I coast through the trails, a specter in the tranquil wilderness, startling whatever animal’s rituals I stumble upon, and disappearing again as fast as I arose. If, by rare happenstance, I encounter another human being in the vast wilderness, a blunt nod should suffice as common courtesy, unless I find somewhere in me the breath to stammer a proper hello. The only reason I run is for the solitude. The trees provide insulation from the never-ending beeps, tones, rings, and constant notifications that provide the foundation for the age of technology. The murmurs of the wildlife, the bubbling of the streams, roar of the rivers, and oppressive silence of the trees provide shelter to me, as blanket used to provide shelter to me as a child. That thin piece of cloth stood as an impenetrable fortress against the monsters of the night as the vast wild becomes my fortress against the monsters of the 21st century. In my kingdom, enclosed by the wild, the numerous social cliques dissolve, homework ceases to become a hindrance, drama becomes a thing of the past, and the world fades to just the trail and my two feet, soldiers in this war against problems, marching endlessly through the boundless terrain, and as the miles pass by, so do my dilemmas. With each individual step, my mind gradually becomes less and less cluttered; issues of monumental proportions get chipped away with the pulse of my steps, ground down into a fine powder. Peacefulness begins to overcome me as I near my destination and the final obstacle looms into view. A wall of granite emerges from the tangle of trees and, without hesitation; I clamber up the imposing barrier. With a determination that would have spawned pride in Sir Edmund Hillary himself, I endure up it, holding nothing back. Gliding up the rock like a spider completes the crusade, I brave to discover harmony. The ecstasy of the moment renders me into a primal state where words are rendered meaningless. With my entire being engrossed in the act of not falling, the material world fades completely. Problems don’t exist in this world of vertical ascension; it’s simply the rock and me. And when my body is screaming for rest, about to succumb to the mighty opposer known as Gravity, my hand grasps that final hold. I top out and the entire valley reaches up to greet me. I’m on top of the world.





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