January 11, 2017

This is the place

“This is the place. Time to get out.”

I looked out the window of the jeep. Craggy rocks, red, towering mountains. I opened the door and hopped out. 

Rocks crackled as the car pulled away, disappearing in a cloud of dust.

And here I was. Alone. Utterly alone in a vast, silent desert. My only connection to the outside world was my cell phone, tucked into my pocket. I checked the phone to make sure I had connection. One thin bar flashed across my screen, a weak line out if I needed it.

Hands free. No heavy backpack this time. And no water. I felt as if I had been dropped onto Mars without oxygen. Or perhaps like a heli skier does when the helicopter drops him on a mountaintop into a world of pure, untouched nature. 

Unlike a skier, I was not forging a new trail. I had the comforting yellow, blue and white stripes of the Israel Trail markers to follow.

I cradled the phone one more time, my lifeline to help if I needed it, and started to run the trail. 

The sky was a deep blue, the air wintry fresh, the silence so strong, it felt as if it were a roar.  I breathed deeply and skipped along the path, the only sound being the crunch of rock beneath my feet.

I love to run and I love running unencumbered, freestyle. Without headphones in my ears and blasting music, it has become my form of meditation.

I was on this particular path to do a missing section of the Israel National Trail.  Having completed 900 km of the 1,000 km trail over the past three years, I am intent on doing it all. Running the trail all alone was a new variation as we usually hike slowly in a group laden with backpacks. 

So today I felt free, exhilarated and a tiny bit scared. This helped propel me forward through a barren wilderness reigned by rocks.

Life offers few opportunities to be utterly alone, to be surrounded by an empty silent expanse.  I wanted to breathe in the moment, to surrender to it and to heal from our modern world’s overload, tragedies and mess.

I know that if I do not make space for this, I will be swept up by it.  

And so I run. Because this is the place.

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