I went for a jog yesterday, to let my arms and legs swim in that fall air a little bit and feel the sun on my increasingly pasty, lifeless skin (and hopefully to leave behind a little of the extra butt jiggle I’ve accumulated in the last couple of busy, hurried-dinner months). There was a point, after I’d turned around and was clip-clopping back home when I looked up into the cloudy sky to see a group of falcons that had gathered overhead. Like any normal person, I figured that they must have found some weak or dying prey to feast on. That poor animal. What a way to go – picked apart by birds, which of course are the closest descendants of dinosaurs, with fewer scales and less soul.
But suddenly I was filled with a deep dread. They’ve seen me run.
There are some days when if you were to ask me if I was athletic, I’d respond with something like. “Sure, I do stuff”. However, I’m realizing that in life, if you play soccer with the preschool crowd at camp, it doesn’t make you a soccer player, and if you do a log roll down a hill, (and this was the hard one, folks) it doesn’t make you a competitive gymnast, even if there are others rolling with you. These lessons have not come easy to me, but one truth that is totally clear at this point is that I am an ugly runner. I mean, ugly as sin. Every time I see a picture of what I look like during a jog, I think that there must be someone walking briskly 20 yards behind me, scrubbed-up and ready with a gurney and a defibrillator. When I run, I look like I’m going to have a heart attack and die. And this is only my opinion. Imagine what other people think.
So the falcons have seen me. And now I know that I’m never going to make it home…I’m going to trip and fall on the shoulder of this road, injured and alone, and no one’s going to drive by (no surprise), and the birds are going to tear me apart, bit by stringy bit. It was as if these things just took one look at the way I was running, and thought, “Yeah, we could go chase injured mice and scoop dead fish up out of the river, but come on, this one has all the makings of an easy dinner. She’s doing the work for us”.
As you can guess, this was awesome for my self-esteem.
So I pick up my pace a little (to the speed of your average toddler) and focus my eyes on the pavement in front of my feet. I will not trip, I will not trip, I will not trip. I know that if I trip and skin my knee, the birds will smell the blood in the air and be on me like mud on a pig, and it will be over faster than you can say “road-kill cafe”.
So I slowly jogged my way home, meandering the whole way, because after all, my gaze was firmly centered on the 5-foot length in front of my shoes. And I must have been a sight, huffing and puffing with my path squiggling this way and that, while randomly snatching quick glances overhead with an expression of fear that would suggest that I had experienced a complete psychological breakdown. And when I scrambled in the front door and slammed it loudly behind me, you would have thought that I just escaped the grasp of a deadly assassin.
And I had. And it was scaly and smelly and clawed. So today, I will conduct my athletic alchemy indoors, via dvd. But I know the falcons are still perched somewhere out there, watching and waiting. I'll have to come out one day, and they'll be ready for me.