01 September 2005

The ghosts are at the gate

I don’t actually live in Santa Fe. My house is outside of city limits on a dirt road. I went running last night, a little past midnight. No moon, only stars, and there’s no streetlights out here, so it was darker than a communist conspiracy. I’m not a runner, but I start missing New Mexico before I leave it, and I felt the overwhelming need to stake out my turf, to make sure I still owned the hills and arroyos, and the thin air and parched piñons still belonged to me.
I learned how to ride a bike in the dark during inky summer nights at Ghost Ranch. Dodging unseen obstacles wasn't the hard part, it was learning to make peace with my mind…in the dark, every half-seen clump of bushes concealed a rattlesnake or an axe murderer. Nothing scares me quite like groping through a dark night does. It creates a familiar feeling of utter panic...my throat tightens, my veins sing with adrenaline, and my my pounding heart leaks out my ears. After a while, it becomes addicting. How long can I skate on the edge of my fears?
Last night, I found myself running nearly blind, feeling the road and watching the stars. I felt enormously vulnerable because I could barely see and mind kept creating lurking monsters. My feet thumping against the dirt seemed like the only sound in the world, and I felt so loud. I couldn't help imagining people sitting up in bed as I thumped by. I heard some dogs barking maniacally in the distance, and I realized that there were three of them and I would soon be running right past them. I could see them leaping over the fence, coming to tear my throat out in the dark. Then my runner's high kicked in and my head exploded with euphoria. It dawned on me that they were barking because they were afraid of me, this thumping, shadowy monster that was barrelling down their road past midnight, and if they dared jump over that fence, I would just rip their effing throats out.
Sounds silly in retrospect, right? The point is...in that moment it was razor clear that I have nothing to fear in the world because the whole world is fearful. Thailand, here I come.

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