One of the great joys of running for me is the sensory experience which accompanies it. Moving through the world on foot always opens up my senses and puts me in touch with the world around me in ways that few other activities do. The sights and smells of my surroundings, the tastes of the air, and the feel of my feet on the ground are incessantly part of my running life. And, in spring, I am particularly drawn to the sounds that define so much of my daily running experience.
Currently, as I continue my recovery from surgery, my daily run is more of a daily walk. However, even at a decidedly slower pace and intensity, the sounds of spring ring loudly in my ears each time I step out the door. In these moments, I am reminded of the distinction Henry David Thoreau often made between hearing and listening. For Thoreau, hearing was passive while listening was active. On my daily trips on foot through the woods near my Virginia home, I find myself listening more intently and gaining perspective from the emerging narrative.
Within a few strides of my journey, I note the wind rustling in the trees. Trees that just two short weeks ago were brown and bare are now exploding in green and the gentle whisper of their leaves calm and inspire me. Around the next corner, my ears awaken to the call and response of a group of songbirds perched on the fence, marking the boundary to our local mountain park. The joyful chirps are sharp and piercing in the calm morning air and make me pause with the realization that the day is literally coming to life.
Man-made sounds also play a role in my daily aural narrative, as our local church bells chime seven times toward the end of my walk and remind me of the urgency of the day ahead. All the while, the playful shrieks of the school kids waiting on the corner for the bus point me toward the next phase of my day, rallying the young people in my charge toward their classrooms.
In the waning moments of my sojourn, I take note of the sound of my feet on the ground. The not-so-gentle pitter patter of my strides and the accompanying rhythmic beating of my breaths combine to remind me that even in this period of recovery, I am fully and completely alive. And my senses are a perpetual reminder of that.
The breathing always brings me back. Ultimately, running reinvigorates the animal in all of us. And, whether this leads to a more keen awareness of the world around us or a deeper understanding of the complexities within us, moving ourselves across the land awakens our senses and enlivens our spirit. In the hopeful season of spring, this rebirth can provide a symphony for our ears and the potential for meaningful growth in our hearts.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from the Occidental Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon. As the temperatures warm and spring fully arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, my affection turns to the classic Pilsener and one of the best I’ve had recently is the simple Czech Pilsener from Occidental. Slightly sweet with a hint of a corn finish, this Czech Pilsener is balanced, simple, and eminently drinkable. Served in an ice-cold, 16-ounce can, this a summer beer exquisitely fashioned.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- What sounds of spring are you hearing on your daily runs right now?
- Do you also note a difference between listening and hearing? Is the act of listening a little bit harder for you, or is that action one of the reasons you choose to run? Does your ability to actively listen vary from day to day based upon what else is going on in life?
- If you live in the Southern Hemisphere where summer is starting to turn to fall, what sounds mark the approaching season change?