Saturday, March 3, 2012

Finding Pieces of Happiness


As I write, I have the Brad Mehldau Trio playing "Granada" on YouTube from Jazz at Baltica 2006. It's phenomenal and puts everything in the world to right. Along with that, I have gotten back out to run. It was just exactly what I needed. On top of that, my urologist finally cleared me for safe sex after eight months of waiting. It turns out that sperm are hardy things and last in the pipes for a while. Who knew? But now I'm free and easy. Well, I've always been easy, but that's a whole other discussion.
The point is that I'm finding little pieces of happiness and putting them together into some sort of mosaic. I'm calmer than I was yesterday. I'm not nearly so anxious. In fact, as I wrote that last line I paused to check myself and I can't feel any anxiety anywhere in my body. What a relief.
Let's take these things apart. First the music. "Granada" is a gorgeous tune that showcases Mehldau's playing as well as anything he performs. His left hand keeps a rhythmic line going but dances all over the place playing its own thing. Meanwhile, his right hand is playing a lyrical dance of its own. It's hummable. It gets my head moving, my shoulders bobbing, my feet tapping out the rhythm. Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard help out a lot there playing bass and drums both as the perfect backing band but also as virtuosos in their own rights. But it is Mehldau who carries the day for me. I have listened to him for days on end. He might be the perfect writing companion for me.
I've pretty much given the urology report, but it's a relief to finish with something I never expected to take more than a month or two. I've long since recovered from the surgery (that only took a couple days) but I have been waiting to get a green light for a while. Not just for the obvious reason, but also to have the thing complete, to put it behind me. And that's what I get to do now. Ahhhhhh.
The run more than the other two is what I'm happiest with. It was a short one, two and a half miles on the flat course outside my door. I've run it hundreds of times. I've run it faster. I've run it slower. But today I just ran and remembered everything I've known about running and health. It was even warm enough to go without shoes. The first five or six dozen steps were all punctuated with question marks. I found myself wondering if my back was too sore, if I was cold, if I was going to get tired, and so on. But then the question marks became periods and commas. It was smooth sailing.
It was chilly out there, but not in a March kind of way. The temperature was in the forties and the roads were mostly dry. I saw that I could do it without even strapping on the FiveFingers. I love running barefoot, feeling the pavement under me, knowing everything about every stride. I felt the tiny gravel beneath me, the occasional puddle, but mostly I felt the world sliding under my feet as I moved through it.
Running is restorative. There is all this talk about recovery runs and I get what is meant by that, but every run is recovery for me. I think that I've come to grips with the fact that I go through some emotional downturns (I can't quite call it depression) and, like alcoholism, there is no cure. Instead, there is treatment, a twelve million step program if you will. Alcoholics count days sober. I count days out running. Today was day one. Running restores me to health.
I'm still about the same weight I was before I ran. I run the same speed I have run for years. I can run a little farther than I used to (though today, two and a half was enough), but nothing much changes in my running and that's just dandy with me. Maybe someday I'll work on getting faster or running a lot farther. Lord knows I would love to run a lot thinner, but right now it's enough to stay out of the emotional downturns for a while and remember how to lift myself up out of that.
There's no telling how long this recovery will last, but I see again that I can recover and that's just what I needed to know on this happy day.
The trio is doing there take on "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover." It's another perfect song. I just had a good run. The doctor gave me a good report. To that, I say, write on!