This One Tree, Trail 10, July 2011
When you run the NYC marathon, you run alone. By which I mean, no one else is running the thing for you. But you get carried along by the sheer power of humanity surrounding you. Running alongside you. Cheering you at the sidelines. High-fiving you. Add to that the knowledge that you have two close friends you've known since the days of braces and gym class running in the same race, and you feel less alone.
Certain things hold us in a place. It might be a job, a house. Or excellent produce year round. Maybe it is the friends you know that come over for tea, or the neighbors that keep an eye out for your rascally children. It might be the ocean and the woods and the way the fog and steam cling on the marsh ponds. Comfort in familiar beauty. And people know your quirks and they still want to chat you up at the grocery store.
Quirks like, perhaps, the way I am compelled to touch this One Tree on trail 10 each time I run or walk by it. I am not sure how that started, but it just seems like I have always touched this tree. It has a place that has obviously drawn other hands to it, just at the right level, hand-sized, smooth, rich auburn-mahogany. Smooth and comforting like a well-used newel post at the bottom of the stairs.
When I run, in NY or in the forest, I might find myself looking down, focusing on the discomfort, mulling over my fears, thinking ahead to what I need to get done and almost forgetting I am simply running. Almost forgetting to notice the cathedral through which I move. Then I look up and it is there. The world, that is. Like an old friend.