Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Running Through the Pain

Last Thursday (19 April 2012) I went for a run. It was a bright and warm day, and when I left the house I thought I’d simply put in a short, 30-minute run as a warm-up since I hadn’t run for two days. When I returned home ninety minutes and twelve kilometres later, I knew that I would be sore the next day. It was my first “long-distance” run of the season and I hadn’t really built up to it. And, five days later, here I am still feeling the pain.

Today I tried running through the pain, and that wasn’t necessarily a good decision. The muscles in my legs were tense, and there was an acute pain in my lower back that made me stop and walk for about one-third of the route. I made it home, worn out as if I had actually run another 12 kilometres.

I wasn’t just trying to run through a physical pain. There was that. But I’ve been struggling lately, trying to find a way forward. This isn’t about my writing. I’ve learned to write whether I’m in the mood or not. I’ve learned to weather the rejection letter. I don’t read reviews good or bad of my novel, Freestyle Love. My focus is my writing, and I write, period. No, this is about something deeper, metaphysical that I have, in a very frightening way, let myself be unmade.

Unmade. Maybe it`s not the right word, but I feel lost in a world that has, it seems, lost its humanity. Maybe that’s because, since moving to Sherbrooke, it’s been too easy to lose touch with friends, and it hasn’t been easy creating a new circle of friends here. Maybe it’s the disappointment of having lost people whom I thought I would always hang on to. But then again, it’s been a pleasant surprise to stay connected with the people I had met in my last year in Ottawa and with whom, thankfully, I have become good friends. Life is full of surprises.

Maybe it`s that I remember a time when you’d hold the door for the person coming behind you and there would be a meaningful, “Thank you.” Today I hardly hear a, “Merci,” and most people are apt to let the door swing closed in your face. I remember a time when people got dressed up in their Sunday best when they went out for dinner. Have you been to a four or five-star restaurant lately and seen how some of the patrons are dressed? I know that the clothes do not make the man (l’habit ne fait pas le moine), but … It just seems to me that in my parents’ day (which wasn’t that long ago) and in my grandparents’ day people had a certain savoir-vivre and savoir-faire. Do you know what I mean?

Nowadays, anything goes. Anything. You can’t go out to dinner or for a drink without someone at the table reaching for their iPhone or Blackberry every time it rings. Go to the cinema and watch as people scramble to send one more text message as the lights begin to dim; and then the number of phones still on with their screens lighting up the darkness. Do you remember what we did before cell phones and text messaging …?

Sigh. I’m struggling to find my way in this fast-paced, technological world, struggling to keep up. Maybe I’m just an old-fashioned guy because I’m not interested in internet or text message-based friendships. There is still something to be said, as far as I’m concerned, for the sound of a human voice, for your friend’s welcoming tri-cornered smile when you meet, and for the warm embrace shared just before you part ways. There is something human in all of that.

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