My husband recently gave me a gift.
For weeks, I would wake up early to run, only to be met by pitch-black darkness, illuminated only by my headlamp and the lights of oncoming traffic. But my husband recently decided to go to work later, making it so I could run in the daylight.
On my first run in the light, I headed toward my favorite mountain just in time to see the clouds above reflect the colors of the rising sun. I was keenly aware of not only what I was seeing but also what I was smelling, hearing, touching and even tasting. Being able to see heightened all of my senses, making for the most perfect run I could have ever asked for.
As the sun came out from behind the mountain, I could see the greens of the junipers, the yellows of the fields to the sides of me and the wildflowers scattered randomly along the mountainside.
I saw a jack rabbit dart across the trail, clearing it with the long stretch of its hind legs. I even saw antelope ahead. There were three, to be exact, and they allowed me to get close. Two of them left, leaving one to stand his ground, watching me.
Then, I heard a spitting noise. It was his warning to me not to get too close.
I continued on my way, and the antelope on his, both of us aware of the other, until we were once again a safe distance apart.
The spitting noise played in my mind until it was replaced by the rustling of the cottontails as I made my way up the mountain. Then, the birds soaring high above me. Then, the rhythmic sound of my shoes as they crunched down on the dirt. Then, the mud.
That, I felt.
The monsoon the night before had softened parts of the trail, creating patches of mud with puddles interspersed throughout. As I slid for a second through the mud, I felt my shoes get heavier. And as I continued on to drier land, I could feel the rocks being picked up by the mud on my shoes, hitting the backs of my legs.
Mud flaps would have been a good idea. (Do they make those for runners?)
Right then, the wind picked up, shifting the clouds overhead, and I began to feel rain. My sweat-soaked face and dry lips were now covered in water, and the taste of summer rain trickled in my mouth.
The rain smelled even better.
And it wasn’t just the rain I could smell. The moisture perfumed the earth by heightening the smells of the wildflowers, junipers and even the dirt. It was lovely.
All of those sights, sounds, touches, tastes and smells were just what I needed, but it is the sixth sense that beckons me every time. It is that sense that makes me feel like I am free. It tells me to go left instead of right. It is my inner monologue that forms into sentences, the words you are reading right now.
And it all began with that small gift my husband gave me.