Sometimes we go through periods of wearing blinders (or perhaps ear muffs) to ourselves and the world around us. It doesn’t mean we don’t experience happiness, sadness – the full spectrum of human existence – but we do it in a way somehow disconnected from who we are and who we have been. Self may seem like a moving target, difficult to grasp, but I’m convinced each of us has a core that is older and truer than the day-to-day.
Tonight I went for a run. My knees started hurting years ago, but lately I’ve been taking glucosamine and going small distances to start with, and slowly I’m building stamina. Typically I wear my iPod and listen to Nas and Kanye and 2Pac, and Rufus Wainwright and the Bee Gees (I know). As I came to the final stretch of my run – the last half mile or so – I took out the ear buds and slowed to a walk. It wasn’t quite dark at 8:45, so orange and purple still hung in the sky. It already smells like summer on these warm spring nights, and the temperature was still near 70.
I realized suddenly that for the first time in maybe a year, I could remember myself.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Since middle school I’ve been jogging through the neighborhood, huffing and puffing on warm summer nights, hearing crickets, smelling mowed lawns and barbecue smoke, and dreaming dreams. High school, college, after college…Those runs were a part of me and a part of my hopes, as I pushed myself to my own limits night after night. Nostalgia can be a longing for the past, which takes us nowhere, or it can be a memory of ourselves and who we have always been, which leads us toward deeper integration.
Tonight nostalgia snapped me awake, as if a part of me had been hibernating. I saw myself.
“Ah! There I am!”
Do you see yourself? I’m thankful I took out the earbuds and turned off the iPod. It’s hard to hear anything through such self-inflicted racket…