When I was thirty eight years old, I started to run.  My knees always curved inwards from birth, knocked against each other, my thighs rubbed their flesh amicably together, my stomach drooped, my upper body in an arc unable to hold up my frame after the birth of my three daughters. Still I ran. On a school track in Berkeley, my then trainer pregnant with her first child walked in circles and I ran. Speedy runners, professional runners, real runners with lanky frames and long strides ran past me, still I ran. In the rain, drenched and stooped I stuck my chin in and I ran slowly and in the pace my body asked of me. “You know I can see you are determined,”a lady who ran past me every day for a month said one day,” But your technique is not going to get your far. You see you must be…” I listened. I turned around and I resumed what I was doing. I ran. My brother, a few inches shorter than me and a runner in his youth, ran with me one day and told me, “You know you are jogging, not running.” I listened to him and I ran. I am five feet eight inches tall. I can imagine the frustration of those blithe runners who must want me to spread my feet like a soaring bird and cross the miles in easy stride. I can imagine them willing me, wanting me to do better for my own sake and their own. Since that time almost two years ago, I have run half a marathon and several races. Only I have never raced, I have run and I have finished every one of those runs. My stoop is better, the muscles around my core and my legs gradually working themselves into a better strength. I stand straighter, I stand taller but that has almost nothing to do with my muscles. I run because I am. In my mind, I am slow like a giraffe perhaps across the savannah, like a gazelle in slow motion amidst green woods, like a small bird against a blue sky trying to spread her wings and be an eagle. My headphones go into my ear and I wear braces around my knees. I run and sometimes the air comes rushing and sometimes the air comes slow but always the air comes-  into my head, into my heart, into my words, into my silences. That air gives me life. That air gives meaning and it doesn’t matter whether I am here in India. In that time, my feet come up and down one after the other like the rhythm of my heart- tap, tap, tap, tap. Who am I to judge the intentions of others, their motives, their wishes, their actions, their hurts, their disappointments, their angers, their travails, their injuries inflicted on themselves or on the world? In that moment, when the soles of the feet brush against the ground and rise again and fall, I am born and reborn to live, I am pure and I am as free from the travails of adulthood as I imagine I can ever be.

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