Was I being all zen and one with the universe?
Typically I am a forty-something mom doing a five-miler out in the middle of nowhere.
But on this day? No.
On this day I was thinking about spies, prompted by a passage of scripture I'd read to the girls wherein two warring civilizations employed the use of spies to ascertain one another's plans. The spies had to cross vast stretches of wilderness in order to convey information to their leaders, so I am guessing they did not exactly sojourn along the way. I'm guessing they ran like the wind for hours on end.
You can imagine the appeal of this scenario to a forty-something mom doing a five-miler out in the middle of nowhere. You appreciate, no doubt, the correlation.
Dear reader, you should see me run when I'm pretending to be a spy. I am tough, stealthy, resilient. I have eyes like a hawk. Ears like a cat. I leap over bushes, slashing my legs to ribbons, oblivious to the pain: there are greater concerns at hand.
At that particular moment, I was wondering what would happen if enemy spies were to cross paths while on a mission? Would there be an altercation? Would there be combat? Would there be a dance-off?
Imagine my reaction when I heard voices. Real ones.
I froze in my tracks. I didn't breathe.
Could I get a visual?
Yes, they were coming toward me, three heads bobbing in and out of sight on the opposite side of a fork in the trail.
I wanted that fork. I needed that fork. It was my hall pass back to base camp. And something told me as badly as I wanted it, those guys didn't want me to have it.
Dear reader, what do you do when you're a spy out in the middle of nowhere facing a ruthless enemy with no backup, no dance moves? This is not a pop quiz. This is not a simulated test.
Don't worry: these things are always scarier in theory.
In reality, years of training kicked in and instinct took over: I started running faster than before, like an arrowhead in the wind. It was impossible to go undetected but that was not my intent, that was not my plan. The second they stopped talking I knew I'd been seen.
They were speaking Spanish which, regrettably, is not on my résumé, but any spy worth her Asics has a pretty good idea when someone is saying: let's take her out.
We ran pell mell toward each other, brazen in our objectives: me, with the intent to reach the fork; they, with the intent to neutralize the living daylights out of the situation.
I was first, but with only seconds to spare. An assassin in yellow shorts got so close I could see the whites of his eyes. I gave him my I drive carpool in rush hour traffic look, which is another way of saying: it is on.
I spun, skidded, and was off: running for my country, running for my life.
Dear reader, what a run. What a run. There is no run like the run of being chased. There is no run like the run for one's life. My legs stretched ten times their length; I summoned horsepower beyond Seabiscuit's wildest dreams. Did I touch the ground? Hard to say. Go back and check the trail for molten Asics. I don't know what happened to my organs, whether they are intact or not. I'm pretty sure some squirrel feasted on my liver that night.
I ran so fast I actually had to stop to ascertain whether or not I was still being chased.
I was. But somehow I don't think their hearts were quite as in it.
Like I said: amateurs.
I let them catch up a little and took off again. Twice. Sometimes you have to make do with the materials at hand--don't worry, it's still worth the effort.
When I reached the finish line, I turned and watched my foes in the distance. By the time they caught up I'd been debriefed, the war ended, and we were no longer enemies.
So I ended up making three new friends instead: Jose, Mario, and Luis. They are training for a half marathon. They come out here often. They think I run fast.
I don't know, dear reader. Reality can be beautiful, it can be bleak, it can be exciting, it can be not. With few exceptions, you generally have to make do with the materials at hand. You have to be patient and ride out the storms. You take the good with the bad, you err on the side of gratitude, you give it your best shot. Or your semi-best shot. Maybe you shatter a few emergency swear vials and hopefully get a good night's sleep.
I'm not knocking reality, even though it's never been my strong suit. For the most part, I'm endorsing it.
But there is this place. This place where everything can be cozy, magical, thrilling, and lovely, just as you always wanted it. And there you can be the hero, the spy, the resistance fighter, the poetess. There is always an oversized chair by a fire, there is always a book, there is always a yellow cardigan, there is always a tiny talking turtle.
To go there you need only to cultivate your mind.