Friday, April 15, 2011

The Runner


The Runner

I have a good friend whose alarm clock rings at five thirty each and every morning of the year. Though I myself consider this to be a most ungodly hour, she, without hesitation, springs out of bed, grabs her Jack Russell terrier, and the two of them embark on a daily pre-dawn run along the neighbourhood streets. No sort of weather deters her, be it rain or snow or summer humidity. She runs, and wins, marathons and has the body of a whippet.
Now, Jack Russells are marvelous companions for runners. Sheepdogs, not so much. Although The Songwriter and I often run with Edward and Apple across grassy fields and down forest pathways, it would be a mistake to classify any of us as “runners”. And if you asked The Songwriter how fast he can run, he would, no doubt, give you a most average answer. But so often our greatest talents are hidden, even from ourselves - ignored and buried deep in our consciousness.
So it was on a sunny October day in London when The Songwriter made the surprising discovery that he was, indeed, a runner.

The taxi had just dropped us off in front of the Sir John Soane museum. The cabbie sailed away in the ocean of morning traffic, and we’d turned to go up the stone stairs when I heard a strangled sound just behind me. “My camera!”..... “I left my camera in the cab!”. Before I could respond, or even turn my head, he was off. A green-brown blur of turtleneck and tweed, he sprinted down Lincoln’s Inn Fields, bobbing and weaving between sidewalk pedestrians like a capeless superhero on a rescue mission of the most high importance. The cab drivers in the street were witness to his plight and all began to roll down their windows and cheer him on - horns sounding, arms waving. A sea of people began to part before him, everyone clapping and shouting, “Go! Go!”. I simply stood on the stairs, stunned into silence. We could all see his quarry, sitting at the red traffic light at a curve in the road, blithely unaware of the frantic fellow in fast pursuit. The encouraging shouts reached a crescendo. Would our hero make it in time? Never slowing a fraction, The Songwriter reached that black cab just as the light turned green, threw open the back door, grabbed his camera and held it aloft to the cheers of the crowd. Philippides at the finish line! Huzzah!
Now yes, he returned at a much slower pace. And yes, he required a few minutes rest before we continued on our tour. But really, who knew he had it in him? Who knew he could run like the wind?

How much is out there for us all, never tried or experienced because we simply don’t think that we can? Since returning from my February trip to London, so many people have said to me... “You went by yourself?? Oh, how fabulous. But, that’s something I could never do!”
Really? Why not?
What an indulgent treat they are missing.
I have a new friend who is expecting her first baby daughter this summer. On Saturday I gave her a lavender sun hat I knitted myself in cotton and silk, with a tiny green velvet ribbon woven through eyelets and tied in a bow. If I do say so myself, it was a lovely little hat for a little girl soon to be named after Emily Bronte. Two years ago, I could never have knitted that sun hat. Two years ago, knitting patterns made as much sense to me as cave paintings. But I decided to learn. So, I did. Maybe it’s the fevers of Spring, but I now find myself hungry to learn something new - to stretch myself and challenge the limits of my imagination.

It’s a cliche, I know, but our time on this planet is so much shorter than we all realized when we were children. There really is a limit; a cut-off point from which our chances for discovery and exploration will be done, leaving us with only memories. I don’t know about you, but I wish for the sort of memories that will tell me my hours here on earth were well spent, my days were not wasted nor frittered away in indifference. I wish for memories that clearly show I was a friend of curiosity and a stranger to fear.
At the end of my life, I want to close my eyes and see daffodils on foreign hillsides.
I want to recall the way the sea spray felt on my skin as I rode a horse through the surf, or remember how I danced, or sang, or ran like the wind down a London street.
I wish to remember the delight on the faces of those who received a gift that was made from my own hands, or read words that once sprang from the depths of my imagination.
I want to call forth mental pictures of the gardens I tended or the meals I cooked or the journeys I’ve taken.

I’m not yet certain just what I might do next.
But like The Songwriter on that morning in London, who knows what I’m capable of?

38 comments:

  1. I have been reading your posts silently for some time now.It's time for me to tell you that I'm out here enjoying your prose.What a lovely voice you have and its a joy to listen to. Denise from Coffeeberry Cottage

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  2. What a great story!

    And happy belated birthday, I just read the previous post, hope you had great fun in the flowers.

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  3. Oh, the true spirit, Pamela, and one that I admire tremendously. Time is so sweet and precious and those who seize the day, go the last mile and fill their lives with new accomplishments, build the best memories. I am out in the garden this spring, finding that I cannot easily do as much as I could last year, and so I say to everyone who still has vast amounts of energy left Carpe Diem, Carpe Diem!!!

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  4. Great tale - being familiar with London traffic I could picture his brilliant run. After all, our cameras are such a great part of our lives, and making a mad dash to rescue one so worthwhile.

    I love that you feel this way, planning to stretch yourself and do even more adventurous things. I have some amazing worldwide trips arranged from now until 2013. When I look at my itinerary I just can't believe the places I'll go! I feel I have become fearless in old age. Between the trips to far away continents, my life will stay busy and full.....no porch rocking planned yet, except with a quick cup of tea on a warm afternoon!

    Just bet that IS the cutest little hat ever - are we going to see a picture of it later?

    Happy week Pamela.

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  5. Visiting your blog is a wonderful treat! I love your writing, your artwork and your spirit. You are so right, life is too short to be afraid to try new things.

    Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Bravo!!! To both of you. You are so right, life needs to be lived bravely, as we grow older it is important to at least give your childhood ambitions a go. It you wanted to be an opera singer, get some singing lessons and find out. Who cares it you croak, at least you gave it ago. It is no use thinking about the 'if onlys' on your death bed, the only thing left to dive into then, is eternity.

    I can still see your face on those steps . . .

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  7. What a marvellous story about The Songwriter aka The Runner! So glad he got his camera back.
    Like you I am always ready to learn new things and visit new places and I have many wonderful memories especially of my travels to different parts of the world. I travel on my own a great deal and have never quite understood why people find this surprising. I regard it as an adventure and hope to have many more before my race is finally run.

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  8. I LOVE YOUR BLOG
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG

    Thank you Pamela for your writing, your choice of pictures, your creative spirit.
    Sharon
    xx

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  9. I love a story with a happy ending!

    I am sure you would have loved your visit to John Soane's House and maybe even sensed the presence of the little ghost dog?

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  10. I loved this piece. What a treat to read.

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  11. What a wonderful picture~~The Songwriter racing toward the cab, cheered on by the crowds...love being carried along on the wings of your words...

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  12. Congratulations to The Songwriter for making this great effort.
    Dear Pamela you are right - we are never to old to learn new things, we are only so short of time! Life is a fleeting adventure that we need to savor every minute.

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  13. A timely post for me this morning...thank you Pamela.
    To be able to view life's challenges as daring escapades...it's all about how we choose to view the life we life.

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  14. I couldn't agree more! Since retiring my husband has taught himself to play guitar, including flamenco, and I've taught myself to play piano and started crocheting, something I hadn't done in years. Each day is a gift!
    I had a sheepdog many years ago and of all the dogs we had through the years he was the only one I ever claimed as mine, it has been more than 20 years since he left us and I miss him still.

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  15. A beautiful and inspiring post!!!

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  16. Well done to that songwriter!

    I do agree Pamela - we can all achieve new things if we try.

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  17. You are certainly both runners in your ways...You can certainly run well with the pen Pamela! I need a new challenge too...not yet sure what direction it will be in...

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  18. Oh, three cheers to The Songwriter.....mission accomplished. It is amazing what we can do when we really want something.
    I have to say, Pamela, that you really are an inspiration. I have been sitting around today, doing paperwork and mundane things that need doing but, reading your post, you really have encouraged me to start something new. I know that you will find something amazing to do. XXXX

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  19. Beautiful..beautiful..Pamela, so beautiful!

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  20. Pamela

    You know how much I love the way you think and you are spot on here. You look at life with open eyes and make the most of everyday. You most certainly will look back and remember a wonderful life, you are destined to do so, I can feel it in these Irish bones of mine :)

    Loved the story of the Songwriter booting it to the cab. He must have felt fantastic for the accomplishment. I am very impressed!

    I smiled at the comments you received for travelling on your own...you go girl and don't ever stop :)

    Thinking of those journeys and wishing you many adventurous ones...

    Jeanne xx

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  21. Great story. I sure do miss running, but bad knees ended that.

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  22. P.S. And happy birthday, belated though I am in saying it!

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  23. I think London is the perfect place to visit on your own. Getting around is so easy, buy yourself a day transport pass and you can jump on and off tubes, buses and the whole city is at your feet. Armed with a map, some good walking shoes and you are on your way. I stay with a friend outside the city limits but take the train in and spend the whole day on my own. Bliss!

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  24. I just love reading you, Pamela. Who knows indeed what you are capable of next. I just know that it is something great. Hugs to you.

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  25. I love your spirit. I feel the same way. The older I get, the more I realize that my time here on Earth is getting shorter. I want to fill it with things that matter, and I want to do things because of and for love. That's the most important thing.

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  26. "...who knows what I am capable of?"

    You, Pamela, are capable of anything!! I am sure your father told you that!

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  27. A very belated happy birthday, Pamela. Your point is well taken. Who would have believed a half-breed Latina beach bum would end up staring a dog tushes on snowy trails in sub-zero temperatures, laughing her full head off the whole time? Not I. But apparently someone else had plans for me LOL!k

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  28. A very belated happy birthday, Pamela. Your point is well taken. Who would have believed a half-breed Latina beach bum would end up staring a dog tushes on snowy trails in sub-zero temperatures, laughing her full head off the whole time? Not I. But apparently someone else had plans for me LOL!k

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  29. Hi Pamela
    How fabulous the songwriter managed to catch up to that cabbie... and love the way the crowd was so involved in the outcome.. one of those special moments when we feel connected to all in the world...

    You know every big trip I have taken OS I have done alone.. currently trying to work myself up to the next one.. does seem daunting when planning to go for a few months.. but hey... can't sit and home and regret..

    That image you chose reminds me of the australian movie 'Gallipoli'.. which we honour on Anzac Day.. later this month..

    Have a great week.. glad you had a wonderful trip xxx Julie

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  30. that's lovely, i want to remember those things too (well my things).

    I love that the hat was made in suffragette colours!

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  31. Such a lovely post. I've got remember this every time I set off to tackle something new.

    The image looks really familiar. It reminds me of Geoffrey Trease's Cue for Treason. Or maybe Buchan's The 39 Steps.

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  32. Hello Pamela

    Lovely story and thank you for sharing! I had weight loss surgery one year ago and on 6 May I will be walking in the GHS 5K run/walk!

    Never in a million years would I have ever thought I could walk 3 miles! Will I win-no, but I will finish with a big smile on my face:-)My next dream will be my trip to England.

    Take Care and have a great day!

    Best
    Tracy :)

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  33. I love this story. Can you believe we left our cell phone in a cab in NYC and the driver called my hubby's brother on the phone, found out where we were staying, and returned the phone to us. I was pleasantly surprised.

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  34. Wonderful post. "A green-brown blur of turtleneck and tweed" - my favourite!

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  35. What a wonderful story! so glad the camera was retrieved from the back fo the cab. I think we sometimes need to conquer the fear of failure when we try new things. Very belated birthday wishes to you:)

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  36. another beautiful story, beautifully told. so strange how i always seem to find the words i need to read, at the moment i need to read them.

    i'm also uncertain what i will do next and i want all of those same bits of evidence of a life well-lived as you do. i have so many things started at the moment, but can't see which of them will be the one. but maybe they'll all be the one...it's the waiting to see what's next that's hardest for me.

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  37. Beautiful..and so inspiring! Just found my way here and will be back very soon.

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