Running and Writing

running@kiawah

On the eve of my half marathon I return to the inspiring essay by Joyce Carol Oates, “Running and Writing.” I will re-read it tonight and think of it during the 2.5 hours that I will be running along the streets of Kiawah Island tomorrow, hopefully free from pain.

She writes, “Both running and writing are highly addictive activities; both are, for me, inextricably bound up with consciousness. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t running, and I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing.”

Oates grew up in Upstate New York and writes of exploring the woods and how that time developed her storytelling. I grew up in the deep woods of Vermont and spent my afternoons after the school bus dropped me off walking up the dirt road toward home. To entertain myself I told stories in my head. Oates writes “of running or hiking in our pear and apple orchards, through fields of wind-rustling corn towering over my head, along farmers’ lanes and on bluffs above the Tonawanda Creek. Through childhood I hiked, roamed, tirelessly explored the countryside: neighboring farms, a treasure trove of old barns, abandoned houses and forbidden properties of all kinds, some of them presumably dangerous, like cisterns and wells covered with loose boards.” and says that these¬†activities are intimately bound up with storytelling and I wholeheartedly agree.

I will not be alone on those 13.1 miles tomorrow, I will be filled with the stories in my head because like Oates says, “Running is a meditation.”