Falls and Marks

I fell during my run today. One stride I was rushing forward, chattering to St. Matt about an amazing book I’d read yesterday and admiring the foliage; then I was launched into sideways Superman dive, grating over leaves, roots and twigs. I’m sure it was very graceful.

I popped up, shook my limbs, shrugged at a suddenly pale St. Matt, and resumed my run and the conversation: And it was so consuming; I couldn’t turn pages–

He interrupted to point out that I’d given him yet another heart attack and to repeat: “Don’t look at your leg. No. Don’t. I said DON’T look at it.”

I have a weensy issue with blood. Okay, it’s a major issue. Bruises, however, inspire macabre fascination. My new hobby is watching my legs turn purple.

But it isn’t painful; it isn’t even unexpected. I fall A LOT, especially on a trail run – and trail runs in the autumn are their own brand of treachery: tree roots and holes stay hidden under a layer of leaves, just waiting for their opportunity to send me sprawling.

Yet, despite four (is it five?) sprained ankles, countless scrapes, and bruises from indigo to lilac, there’s no keeping me off the trails.

A straight out, straight back road run? One where I’ll know each step that takes me away and brings me back to the start? Boring.

I prefer runs just like how I prefer my books: full of the unexpected. They’ll have a start, they’ll have a conclusion, but the moments in between should be an adventure.

I want my heroine to dare to turn left at the fallen log, just to see if it is a real path. I want her to start running up a hill whose peak is hidden by trees – not knowing if she’ll have the stamina to reach the top, or even how far away it is. I want split second decisions: stay by the stream or turn toward the covered bridge. And challenges: fording puddles, striding through mud, sliding up a rain-slick hill. She should stop short to avoid spider webs that appear inches from her face, pause to pat the occasional dog sharing her path, and be willing to get her feet wet and her legs muddy. Scratches from that pricker-bush incident should be worn with pride.

It’s these books that stay with me; the ones where I can’t predict what the hero or heroine will do next. The ones whose characters take risks, do the unexpected, but never forget to notice the beauty along the way. They fall, get back up, continue their adventures.

These books fill my head with questions and what-if’s. They linger in my mind and are book-bullied into others’ hands. These are the books that leave marks on me long after The End.

But unlike trail runs… the marks don’t require band-aids.

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