The Runner

I got into St. Augustine, Florida on Sunday night near sunset. I began biking in the Palo Alto area in California on October 29th. I cycled down the California coast and across Arizona and New Mexico. Then I took a train across Texas, took a week off the road staying with my cousins and aunt and uncle in Houston for Thanksgiving, and continued biking from East Texas through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and 500 miles across the panhandle of Florida. During the whole thing I biked around 2,500 miles. This poem that I wrote back in July of 2016 is fitting for the end of such a trip.

The Runner

I close my eyes and listen for wordless answers to unanswerable questions.
But hear only the fan not making this room any less hot.
And feel only this hunger I don’t feel like satisfying.
Better to lie down hungry
and wake up full, by some gift,
than to lie down full and wake up hungry.
Better to feel the way I feel
than wish to feel some way I don’t.
I feel hungry, thirsty, physically sunburnt and spiritually fire-burnt.
It doesn’t matter how much I wish to feel
filled, quenched, serene, and free of pain—
it will not change the fact that I do not feel any of those ways.
I am as restless as a runner who spends his entire life
crisscrossing the country he was born in,
searching for the country he lived in before he was born,
never remaining in any town for longer than a night,
compelled to keep moving for reasons not even he can comprehend.
Oh, if only the runner didn’t feel so restless!
Then he could settle down and find contentment in one place.

No. Let me know this restlessness,
like the runner knows the difference
between running on the hard concrete in the middle of the country
and running on the soft sand, yards away from country’s end,
where shore meets sea, and what was once before
meets what now begins to be,
arriving there at the end of borders
only to turn and begin again.
Let me begin to accept my lack of acceptance.
Let me accept myself as I am, as much as I can,
accepting also my longing to be different from what I am.

I sit in the heat of this room,
feeling how far I am from that shore,
but also smiling just a little bit,
because I know how much I am like the runner
and will keep searching
until I find what he will find
when finally
he stops running.

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the soft sand of St. Augustine beach

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Pelican in Mobile Bay

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incredible warm showers hosts Oona and Zef in Monticello, Florida

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“Only one thing I did wrong / stayed in Mississippi a day too long.”

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Made it

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Colorado River crossing into Arizona

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Sunset on a dirt road in Arizona.

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Starting the trip

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Alligator with a wounded tail in the middle of the road in Lousiana

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sunrise at San Onefre state park

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