Every so often I find myself on a long, slow run through the grass. Nothing to think about, really, just a long stretch of empty grass and myself, alone with my thoughts. Be it a cold, dark night, filled with heavy, smokey air and twinkling stars; or a hot, humid, lonely night with dark wet grass slipping under my feet.
I can’t help but think of a younger me. A lanky, sheepish young man hoping, dreaming of tomorrow (today). 2AM and nothing but cool grass, thick air and quiet between me and the pavement. Throttled through the damp air with nothing but crickets and naive hope enveloping me. A hope that I would amount to something unique – not even special – just distinct and memorable. Unencumbered by self-doubt or failed expectations.
When I am alone with my thoughts and feeling nostalgic, I remember these things. The fear of trying to make the UNC cross-country team. What it means to fail. I remember running up the hill on Wood Dale Drive, tired and unsure of myself. Seeing the sun set behind a giant oak tree and knowing it would be ok. I don’t know why, I just knew. Time goes on and everything is ok.
But time marches on; countless men live and die in blind succession. Falling helplessly like balloons on New Years; signifying something, but quickly forgotten and on to the next new thing. Out from the darkness above, illuminated for a fleeting moment, and falling again in to nothing. Signifying all that once was, all that could have been, and all that is forgotten through the generations of new men who rise and fall in the wake. In the end that’s where we all are headed. As fleeting and volatile as any other puff of celestial smoke.
But I am my own person. I don’t want to be one balloon in the darkness. Will no one remember how I once pounded thump thump, thump thump, thump thump, alone and shivering in the dark moonlit grass? Breathing dark and heavy chimney smoke. Puffing through the humid summer nights. Marching blindly, endlessly in to the end of all this? Like so many hundreds of men before me…
It’s mad to think we are anything other than a bag full of genetics literally smashing together in an unforgiving pool. But it seems like so much more sometimes… and it makes me wonder why. Why am I hurtling forward through this dark and tepid night?
Anyways. If not only for the nights like these, with wind whistling and feet pounding, life seems worth it.
Everyone is given one summer. Just one. That’s it, and then its gone. Ironically, it’s hardly even appreciated at the time. But maybe that preciousness is what makes it so dear, and what makes life so interesting after that summer.
I don’t know why. I don’t know how. It just is.