Sometimes I look in the mirror and don't recognize who I see. It's not that the face that looks back is completely foreign to me. It looks vaguely familiar, but there are signs that I am not as young as I once was.
There's less hair sprouting from my head. Conversely, hair sprouts from formerly naked places. The gaze that looks back at me sometimes looks tired. While I don't think of myself as old, I don't have any illusions that I am as young and spry as I once was.
Life seems to become smaller as we get older. Opportunities are not as frequent. Possibilities diminish. Doors close.
I try not to dwell on these thoughts as they're not entirely productive nor are they pleasant. But, sometimes they arrive uninvited and unwelcome. Sometimes I find myself dwelling on opportunities lost, mistakes made, and wounds from the past.
I try not to live in the past, but the past lives on in our minds. I was once younger, less jaded, and less wounded.
That younger, less jaded, less wounded version of me is still around. It just needs to be excavated sometimes. It needs to be resuscitated sometimes.
Resuscitating the kid usually only takes a few miles. A few deep breaths and he's feeling spry. He's feeling sharp. The heart rate elevates and he's rejuvenated.
Sweat floods from my pores and along with it goes the grim, codgerly thoughts of my inexorable aging. I am still a kid.
The road in front of me goes on forever. It goes as long as I want it to go. It goes in an infinite number of directions. It may turn into a trail that heads into the woods and toward unknown ascents and adventures.
I remember the countless times I have done this before and returned sweaty, tired, bruised, bloody, battered, but always ready to take up arms again. I always get up again. I am not done.
Running slows the aging process, but perhaps more importantly reconnects me with the kid that still lives within me.
This kid is full of hope, dreams, and seemingly invincible. I run because I am a kid at heart and this kid still has a long way to go.