Sessile, relaxed, unwilling to move, unwilling to make even a minimal effort to try.
Wallowing in my own lackluster conviction, I resolve to stay inside and ponder the same question:
"What if I did?"
"But I can't," I always assure myself, "I can't, and I won't, and I don't want to try."
I am weak, and slow, and I will never be as good as the people who can.
My place is inside, safe behind these plaster walls separating inside from out, ambition from reality.
"Safe," I repeat to myself, over and over and over until the word rolls off my tongue without a single moment's hesitation, until my voice blends the letters together and the word means nothing to me.
Instead, I should focus my attention on something else, something relevant.
The fan ticks incessantly overhead with each swift rotation, like a clock ticking faster than it should; no one could tell time on this broken clock.
But I keep my time to the ticking of the fan.
I relax comfortably in the cool, stale air, basking in the incandescent light, staring idly at a computer screen.
"This is much better than running."
I am better than the people who willingly sweat profusely under an unforgiving summer sun for the sole purpose of improving their body image.
No, I am different from them; I understand that exercise is a waste of time. I understand that exercise is just a way for people to feel better about themselves.
"Why should I exercise?" I ask myself triumphantly.
The roar of cicadas outside begins to drown out the ticking of the fan.
"But what if I tried just once?"
"Maybe if I just do it once, I can say I did. Then I'd have an excuse for not wanting to do it again,"
Reluctantly committing just this once to running, I slowly rise from the caress of my bed.
The fan ticks while I crouch, tying my shoes, but its rhythm feels off to me.
I descend the stairs to the front door, reminding myself:
"Just this once. Do it just once to say you did, to prove them wrong."
Turning the handle of the door, the sweltering heat of the sun welcomes me.
* * *
The light painfully intense, the trees vibrantly green, the grass still wet with dew, as I run past sturdy trees with peeling bark, past a gentle, gurgling creek, down the road, over the hill, on and on; I run and I sweat. My mind is blank; my body is numb; my limbs move as if by their own volition. I run and run without stopping, without thinking. No excuse or remark makes its way to my head. No longer can I hear the rapid ticking of a nonexistent clock. I am losing myself in the sounds of summer: the almost angelic drone of cicadas hidden from my eyes, the chirping of birds like tiny children perched in the trees, and the bellow of a dog in some far off yard, barking at some far off disturbance. As I run, my vision blurs colors together. Each leaf on each tree becomes a single sea of green; the clouds blend together in the sky to form a calm, creamy blue. Both the forest and the sky come together in perfect harmony to create a color I have never seen before, a single uniform horizon. The horizon stretches stretches onward, wrapping itself around me in every direction I look. The road fades away gracefully, inviting the horizon to take its place. Wholly, the horizon consumes me. While continuously moving my legs, I run as if in the horizon itself. I look down at my legs, but all I see is the same, unending spectrum of color. All around me is color, forest, and summer. As I ascend into the infinite horizon, a choir of cicadas sing like angels before me, composing synchronically a transfixing summer cacophony, their heavenly voices washing over me as they devour my wet, sweaty flesh. I am a part of the swarm, flying forward together toward the endless beyond; I am not unique.
I'll go running again tomorrow.
Dan McNair is a junior day student from Monteagle, Tenn. His essay was written as an assignment for the Creative Non-Fiction Writing course.