A couple of days back, Tara tagged me on this "Tag Your Friends" image form TagMyPals.Com. Since Facebook was playing up (as usual), I couldn't see where she had placed the tag and spent many minutes trying to guess. Some I ruled out immediately- since I have no intention of going through I a gender switch, I could not be 'the ladies man', and though my kids may think I am one, in the present company, I definitely would not qualify as 'the gentle giant'. I don't 'love ponies', and nor am I 'the muscle man'. While I could not be 'the president', would my current fondness for the colour pink would make me qualify to be 'the princess'? Leanne is 'the vegetarian' and most of us qualify to be 'the sweet tooth', 'the mess' and 'the rebel'.
"Cant' get the tags to work", I wrote. "Which one am I?" I guessed the tag would be on 'the short kid', though I knew that 'the mystery' and 'the (righteous) anger' would qualify too.
Pat came the reply. "The Athlete."
"The Athlete"? Me? How is that even possible? There are dozens of labels I've placed on myself, but 'the athlete' has never been one of them. So why on earth am I being called 'the athlete', instead of any of the others that came close?
"Of course you were the athlete", informed Tara. "(you are) Miss MARATHON LADY."
Sure I completed a marathon, but that still doesn't make me an athlete. I am the most fundamentally un-coordinated person I know, and the most accident prone. How could anyone ever even dream of calling me an athlete?
Then I thought about it. And thought about it some more. A majority of my recent status updates on Facebook have been about my running. My current profile picture is one of me running, as was the one before the one before that. And while I may only spend a few hours a week actually running, I do think about running much longer than that. While 'athlete' may not be the most accurate description of me, 'runner' certainly was one of the more accurate ones.
What could be the other words that describe me, I wondered. Labels tumbled out as clothes often do from my overstuffed cupboards. Mother. Co-worker. Daughter. Boss. Wife. Subordinate. Photographer. Daughter. Mentor. Friend. Fundraiser. Neighbour. Writer.... (well, the last maybe not)......and........ Runner.
All those roles give me different levels of satisfaction. Some of those roles have been thrust on me. A few I wish demanded less from me than they do. Some I would want to not have to live up to. All those labels describe me. And yet, strictly speaking none of them really describe me.
What then is the label that IS me? When is the time I am most in touch with myself? When is the time I am free from labels and expectations? When is the time I can be me, and not have to live up to sanyone's perception of what I should be like? Is there such a time? Is there such a role?
There is- Running.
Running is my meditation. It is the time when I am in touch with my elemental self. A time when all the layers are stripped away, and I am answerable to no one except me. A time when I am thinking of nobody except me. A time when I am free to think any thoughts I want, or not think any thoughts at all.
If there is a time when I am most ME, it is when I am Running. Which does make me a Runner. I am definitely not a good Runner, nor ever will be. But I am a Runner. And if you don't believe it, here's a picture that will convince you- I am sweaty and tired, but I have just run up a hill I never thought I would be able to conquer, and the sheer joy on my face says all that there is to be said.
Whether or not, being a Runner makes me an Athlete is quite another thing. And I will keep that for the next time I have a post to write, and nothing to say!