Silent & Blank


Rest for the wicked.
Last week, something awful happened and I am so happy.

I was told by an osteopath that I should not run. The reason I was there was because I could not run, so we were already on the best of terms.

Running has been a constant part of my life for the last 15 years. Like Forrest Gump, I have made sense of large swathes of my life by running with, away and towards large swathes of my life. I have run through the most grinding family difficulties. I have run through professional bullying. I have run through multiple international transplantings of my intimate nuclear family.

And now I must stop.

I told my osteopath as I lay looking at his light fittings: “I time my runs: I measure distance and heart rate. I even keep a record of the shoes I wore and the weather. I look at graphs of pace and altitude. When I look at these graphs, I feel agency, control: a foundation of intent.” (His English is largely restricted to talk of body parts, so he drifted at this point.)

Now the digits are still. I enter a time of silence: a quiet death within life.

(Maybe I’ll get a dog, so that I can walk it.)

When I returned to school this year, I decorated my classroom walls with a mute bliss. Spartan, silent nothingness seemed to be the order of the day. Not to mourn a short-term immobility, but to celebrate a newfound peace, and to share it with my students.

Wait time is now a joy. I scan the hubbub and slowly watch order reveal itself. My heart beat, unmeasured, has rewarded its release with a sense of arterial flow that is extraordinary in its physical and earthly magic.

My body has rebelled against my silly systematizing: as all our bodies will and do. My mind is taking its seat at my body’s table where, strangely, it had always been welcome but never thought to partake.

So, you see, I am happy: so much so that l cried. Ah, how the mind spills itself across the body! And always will: always will.


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