An Ode to Running Free

The very air is sleepy; homework lies teetering off the edge of the desk in a manner so unmotivating that I want to give it a good satisfying push and watch the papers and ink pens scatter amongst the dust of the floor. 

Dirty clothes threaten to cave the hook from which the overstuffed laundry bag dangles, dead weight. 

An unacceptable amount of mugs are strewn across my paper-filled desk, echoes of the past days teatimes after Uni; thumbprints of black coffee stain the plates on which they recline, crumbs from hurried cheese-and-cracker lunches lay nestled in their folds. 

O Austria National Day, you beautiful piece of a Wednesday-off-from-Uni. 

I wake later than usual, stretching away a late night with friends. I dance my way to the bathroom, feeling my toes flex and bend against the hardwood floor after the disuse during sleep. Splashing water on my face and rubbing away all last signs of sleep, I give myself a stern glance in the mirror: 

What shall we do today, dear Josie?

First of all, let’s clear the air: yes, I do talk to myself in third person. Yes I do call myself “dear” and “sweet stuff” and “rocketgirl”. I like to pretend it’s speaks to self-love, but we might as well just admit that I’m a smidge off my rocker. 

Hmm, well. Laundry needs to be done, dishes could get a rinse, homework should be tackled, sheets could be washed. Plans for the upcoming London trip could be revisited, emails might be answered. We could get ahead on some online coursework, maybe write a few extra blog posts for when the upcoming weeks get a bit busy. 

I towel off my fresh face and spurt back to the room, feeling elements of motivation for tackling lists of to-dos. 

I look around at the visual urgencies of my to-dos strewn around the room. 

I do a double-take. 

I realize that I have no desire whatsoever to accomplish anything. 

I give a metaphorical middle-finger to my mental list of tasks and hop to the closet, shimmying into my running clothes and moseying into Ann the Trusty Trail Shoes. I download the most recent Rich Roll Podcast episode, snag a banana, and charge to the bus stop half a kilometer from my flat. 

Mhmmm. Gösting. 

A little suburb of little Graz, situated alongside rolling tree-covered mountains, quiet and peaceful with miniature horses grazing on hills and hens clucking around gardens. 

I’ve never been to Gösting; I have no map, no agenda. I have nothing to see, nobody to please, no one to impress. All I have is time and Josie. 

I take myself out for a jaunt, passing bemused through woods and mountains, powering up grassy hills and side-stepping trickling streams. I make it through the Rich Roll Podcast and turn my phone off, letting the cool air tickle into my ears where the buds had been. 

I run for hours, exploring sights that people wouldn’t go out of their way to see. It feels so much more personal; as if my presence in this place is welcomed and rare, as if where I am is accepting me not as a tourist, but as a local. 

“They are simple activities, common as grass. And they’re sacred. Pilgrims seeking bliss carry water and chop wood, and they’re simple things, too, but if they’re approached with mindfulness and care, with attention to the present and humility, they can provide a portal to transcendence. They can illuminate the path leading to something larger than ourselves.” (Scott Jurek, Eat and Run)

Finally I find myself nestled back on the city bus, powering back to Graz, a bit sticky from running in the humidity from the morning rain and pleasantly buzzing from the exertion of the hills. 

I get back to my flat; homework still sits on the desk alongside dishes, dust is still visible on the windows and the floor, my laundry bag hasn’t broken the hook yet but it might at any moment. 

Hmm. 

Time for a shower and nap, I’d say. 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie 

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