Have You Done Your Beautiful Deed?

To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone.1

I’m propelling myself out of bed on a Tuesday morning and I’m of two minds:

Congratulations! says one.

Go the hell back to sleep says the other.

After enough inoculation, I’ve become pretty good at ignoring the latter. Don’t get me wrong. He’s a pretty seductive creep.

But I got shit to do.

Some people say that by focusing on tomorrow, you end up ignoring today. Bah. I’ve found it a helpful tactic to tell myself that I’ll sleep in tomorrow.

The creep seems to buy it.

Still tasting the remnants of minty toothpaste, I get in my car and drive to a nearby high school track. The roads are empty. It’s still dark and the only illumination is cast by streetlights.

I park, run a warm-up lap, and then it’s on to sprints. Occasionally, an older gentleman with his little white dog comes by. He’s diving into trash cans, collecting what I assume to be bottles and plastic, but I don’t really know. If he comes close enough, I manage a wave and a breathless Hi as I run past.

I love the feeling of sucking the cool morning air down into my lungs. So much so that I can’t imagine running in the warm afternoons or evenings being nearly as stimulating. Tuesdays and Fridays offer a wondrous change of pace from the other four mornings where I lift weights in a malodorous gym filled with terrible music and the same old obnoxious ads pumping through loudspeakers.

Oh, and people are always too close. Too distracting. No space to think.

But on these mornings, I’m surrounded by a park on one side and the high school on the other. Rabbits silflay on the surrounding grass, probably wondering what in the hell this madman is doing running in circles. In a tall oak aside the track, a bird I’ve never seen makes a noise I’ve never heard. The moon is out–sometimes completely exposed, sometimes only peeking down. Orion still stands proud to the east.

After about fifteen minutes of a painful, yet pleasurable, experience, my shirt is sticking to my skin and I’m actively remembering how to breathe. I jump in my car and drive to the office. My slightly stiff legs manage to carry me to the basement locker room, ready for a shower.

I’m clean now. I put on my button-up shirt and uncomfortable shoes. I’m not quite ready for a day of harsh track lights and eye-drying computer monitors, but I know I’ll fall back into the routine soon enough.

When a noble act is done, — perchance in a scene of great natural beauty; when Leonidas and his three hundred martyrs consume one day in dying, and the sun and moon come each and look at them once in the steep defile of Thermopylae; when Arnold Winkelried, in the high Alps, under the shadow of the avalanche, gathers in his side a sheaf of Austrian spears to break the line for his comrades; are not these heroes entitled to add the beauty of the scene to the beauty of the deed?1

A far cry from Leonidas, but I feel like I’ve done my beautiful deed.

How about you?



1. Ralph Waldo Emerson – Essay on Nature

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.