Only Time – A story of a runner, an athlete and an artist

The plants and flowers
I raised about my hut
I now surrender
To the will
Of the wind

― Ryokan

I used to be a powerful runner: friends couldn’t compete as I would always win. They called me the “rubber doll” because I could stretch and bend, adopting unusual positions. I kept running, climbing trees and making funny postures until I was ~18, when I abandoned yoga, tae-kwon-do, camping out, running and outdoors for a survival job that allowed zero free time and created no surplus to invest on such luxuries. I am still pretty flexible, but I am no longer able to run.

As a child, I would get into trouble many times: I was a savage who had the best grades without studying and would take her T-shirt out to play “Indians” with her boy-friends, always loved reading (and writing) but never to conform to “the rules”. In those years, fighting wasn’t a sin as it is today: it was an acceptable regulatory mechanism to keep bullies and abusers away (from me, my friends and any suffering animal). I would spend, however, more than acceptable time in “detention”, where I was put to draw (strange punishment, the school principal loved my drawings, so I was called to decorate de school boards with different “themes”: a wise way to keep me out of trouble)

I stopped drawing (and fighting) many years ago. My drawings now are a shallow sample of what they used to be. My fights have diminished, except that I still can’t stand bullies and abusers and instead of punches, I throw words and stand up (sometimes for my own detriment) for what I think is right.

At 14 to 21, I planned to stay single and travel with a backpack. My dream was to meet people from far away regions of the world and lifestyles, be a sort of Nature warrior and missionary… I even started studying languages and won scholarships for French, German and Japanese…while I still can read the first two, I have forgotten how to speak all of them.

Many times, my “taking a stance” has got me into trouble: I once came to the room I was renting to find all my stuff (bed included) on the street. I was kicked out because I denounced the owner for keeping a 12 year old girl at closed doors, working for them 24/7 without compensation (she had been “adopted” as it is still in use in Venezuela, from her impoverish family when she was 9). I had nowhere to go, but I would do it again. I was “given a choice” to quietly leave for being a “unorthodox” teacher for children consider outcasts: the school didn’t like my methods (or the outcasts who weren’t). I stopped cars to pick up stray kittens in a country where “veterinarian” still is a rich-only word. I would speak up for many things; I would lose “friends” and gain others…

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have looked like, had I chosen a different path. I miss my running and the drawing; I would like my “fighting” to be closer to those who need it more.

Life continues and you do what you can, sometimes even what you can’t. Choices are a funny, elusive, almost insulting concept for many. When they become available again, you discover you are no longer alone to choose.

The drawing runner is sitting at a table with her two best creations: these babies who grew inside me have now become my two beautiful sons. We chat…I share with them that I was a runner, they laugh: mom couldn’t possibly climb a tree even if a bear was after her. They have not seen me drawing, I stopped more than 30 years ago.

For them, mom is this middle aged woman who is always talking about peak oil, climate change and Permaculture, who keeps earthworms and emergency supplies, turns off lights when passing and grows things in containers.

They go to their rooms to do the usual and I start reading. A well known music comes from my oldest son room (“Only Time”, by Enya)  . I suddenly get it: my 18 year old son has been awarded as one of the best athletes at his high school. His body is more flexible that mine was at his age: he does things I have only seen in professional gymnasts…he is also a great cartoonist and loves LOTR as I do; my 12 year old one is a great student (without making any effort), an accomplished cartoonist that has received accolades from all his teachers and who can’t hide his excitement at the upcoming release of The Hobbit: the desolation of Smaug (and knows we will go together, after all, I introduced them to Tolkien).

Only a couple of years ago, we were struggling with school counsellors and despair for what the future might bring. The final line of a Radiohead’s song save us (“Street Spirit”): Immerse your soul in love…IMMERSE YOUR SOUL IN LOVE

Yesterday I came back from my second Permaculture class. It was snowing when the ferry arrived. It was a long day as I took the bus the way in and decided to travel alone for part of the journey (I still love trips and always carry a backpack). When I arrived home I said to my 12 year old: “when you are of enough age, I’ll pay you a Permaculture course; it will change your life forever”. He looked at me and snuggled as he always do, closer to me and smiling: “mom is crazy”

Then I knew that the drawing runner who still fights (“takes a stance”, as my Permaculture teacher wisely corrected) has had two beautiful flowers:  a strong one who climbs and stretches and bends and secretly likes epic music and  a curly-hair one who draws like an artist, sings like a bird and excels in school. Both have extremely beautiful eyes.

I listen to Enya’s song again. “Who can say where the road goes, Where the day flows, only time

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

2 Comments on “Only Time – A story of a runner, an athlete and an artist

    • Thanks friend, it is reassuring to know we are not alone, and it is reassuring to know that even “lost causes” are never completely lost…there is always hope, and it gives me hope to see my children growing to be (not perfect) but good human beings, and seeing in them the seed my own mother planted in me…she was 9still is) a fighter and somebody who won’t accept injustice or cruelty of any kind…when everything is ‘lost” we can do two things: trust in time and invest all our love into it.


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