I began running barefoot decades ago. I have to admit that I had forgotten to run wildly barefoot. In fact, I had not run, playfully, wildly barefoot for many years; until yesterday, when I was challenged to take my shoes off and just run outside. Not later…NOW.
I thought that I was still living free, adventurous, feet on the ground. Outside, my adventurous life spoke of a wild run. But, inside, I have been holding back. Inside, I have listened to and believed the voice that cautioned against others’ judgements or embedded complacency. This voice, inside, had become so “normal”, yet loud and insistent. I no longer recognized her as foreign…or as an adversary…to all that I grew to embrace in my early life. She was holding me back.
I accepted the challenge. I drove to a park, took off my shoes and walked through the leaves that had, recently, been released from the trees that stood strong and unafraid.
Trees. They don’t care about judgement. These great natural teachers live. They grow and reach, they bend toward the sunlight and add beauty, they stretch their branches to shade us, below, or to make homes for those who live above. And when it’s time, each on their own clock, they display brilliant colors and release what is no longer needed to the ground below to nourish their roots for the next year of growth. They don’t ask permission. They don’t wonder whether they are doing their thing as wildly or as beautifully as the tree standing next to them. Some release more gently than others, some are more insistent on their brilliant show. Still, they just do their thing…standing in their beautiful place…just being.
And my feet began to move through these offerings of leaves and mud, twigs and rocks…slowly, at first, picking my steps so that I might move without hurting my feet. And, then, I broke into a run. I ran through it all, not caring (in fact loving) what my feet were touching on this beautiful earth. Then, running up onto a grassy knoll, I spun around, out of breath…and almost fell in my dizziness. The trees stood all around me, smiling, nodding in the breeze.
They knew. I knew.
This was an unfamiliar feeling…or was it? This was joy.
Okay, so this first run wasn’t such a wild run. But it was the expression of a mind and heart wanting, so much, to break free and just be. I don’t think I will ever be a “runner” again; I have a great love of a meaningful walk with nature. I have learned much in this life, about running wildly…and about the importance of a slow, gentle walk. They are, each valuable to the soul.
I think, now, I will take more opportunity to touch my feet to the earth and break into a run, to play, to feel my muscles move in a different way, to let my heart wildly speak to me of movement and adventure. And, once again, I will be unafraid of what I might find underfoot. I think it’s time to bring all available experiences together for life and love.
I am running barefoot again, (in life and metaphorically), to find all that life may offer in this moment and, then, I’ll sit quietly to take it all in, to listen to my heart and consider all of the moment’s gifts with gratitude.
What is your heart pulling you toward? When was the last time you played like you did as a child, with complete joy and abandon? Is today your day?