Thursday, March 3, 2016

That Feeling

The frogs are chirping outside right now. They come alive after dark, with so much to say. This sound is third in my favorite playlist of things to hear while laying abed, after crickets and the roar of the ocean. I suppose I am less the city mouse than I thought I was as a youth. There is a certain feeling I get hearing these sounds, and it may be nostalgia or serenity or clarity. It may be my serotonin levels are directly linked to singing frogs.

I was eating at a local place on the marina the other night with a dear friend who mentioned that feeling one gets from a run, that no other sport quite offers. Now I am sure people would argue this point, but there is probably a reason it is called "The Runner's High". Only it is way better the getting high (or so I assume, I never inhaled). Biologically, I assume it is built in to us as we once had to run for days to tire out our prey, then hone in for the kill and finally eat. If the running part was highly unpleasant, we might not have survived as a species. Granted, we don't need meat to survive at this point, as we can just trot on down to our local market and get all the plant-based protein our heart desires. But the runner's high persists. It must be there for a reason.

I get that feeling from running even when I am in my worst physical condition. Which is about where I am now. I have an immune system that attacks me and it is rather unpleasant. The medications to treat it are almost worse. Still, when I put on my shoes and head out there and hit the trails, I feel strong and I smile. I can feel my tense muscles relax, and my worries fade. It is not unlike the serotonin burst the singing frogs provide. The real bonus is when I can get up early in the dark dawn and hear the frog choir while running. Mind blowing.

If you think this is a public service announcement for exercise in the outdoors, then you are correct. I spend my days trying to diagnose and treat disease, but here's the thing: If you exercise and spend time outdoors, you wildly increase the chance of good health. At any age.

Art and music also helps us be healthy. I wrote about it here, in my glamorous side career as a columnist.

The smell of eucalyptus in the rain is a balm. The touch of a loved one, leaning or pressing against us, is a strong cure, that has held up against the FDA and time immemorial. The memory of a first kiss, the strains of a song of import, the aroma of your mother's best comfort food: it matters.

That feeling. It will haunt you, the rest of your life.

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