Here’s a fun exercise for memoir writers. It’s journal-writing combined with word association. This is not “add a new associated word” but write an idea about what this word or phrase means right now. During a cold winter night, as I’m trying to renew myself …
Sunday was day six of the 10K training (repeat of the program), which was a straight 35-minute run. I went to Mundy Park, which is just up the hill from where I live. It was a cool but partially sunny day. The rainforest floor was still quite damp from the rain we’ve gotten lately. I love running there because it’s perfect for a 5K if you go on the perimeter trail, and there are some challenging ascents–not terribly steep but hard to run too fast up. On Sunday I decided to find Mundy Lake, somewhere within the forest, which I’d only been to once with my husband–and he led the way there since he often used to run in Mundy Park before we moved. But I didn’t have a clear idea how far it was. I knew that Owl Path led to it from one section of the perimeter trail, and almost ran that way once last summer, but it was when a bear had been sighted in the woods–and the path was otherwise isolated. I headed down Austin Path this time, doubled-back, found a wildlife trail, and then Owl Path before finding the lake.
So yesterday I just decided to get lost finding it, if I had to, and did not orient myself with Google Maps or signs. The lake wasn’t too hard to find, but it took me at least half an hour to run there after going the wrong way a couple times. Throwing orientation markers, like signs, to the wind, I decided just get “lost”–not like it’s a huge park, and there were lots of people running and hiking yesterday, which always makes me feel happy. But I just wanted to not know exactly where I was for a while and run, and enjoy the freedom of that. It was a relief to not think of getting back home for this or that reason, rather, I could stay here at the park all day and marvel in the late winter aromas of its ferns, lichen, and wet earth, and enjoy the canopy of the tall cedars, pines, and hemlocks. It’s peaceful there, even when running. I saw old people with walking sticks, young families, other runners, couples, and dogs. Everyone enjoys the rainforest park, but it wasn’t teeming with people either, so much of my run was silent and isolated. By the time I found Mundy Lake and ran around it my 35 minute run was done, so I decided to just keep running and made four miles before getting back to the entrance. I figured maybe I’m beyond the 10K training at this point, but my runs are still slow and I need to work on intervals while I’m trying to build my core.
I was locked in many thoughts yesterday, too, while running. We had just finished watching the second season of “Transparent,” an awesome show, about a father and husband who comes out as transgendered. The show explores historical and modern LGBT issues while telling a very good story. One of the episodes has three of the characters traveling to a weekend getaway/festival in the woods that is just for women. It tickled me to see the Indigo Girls get some love on the show, as my sister and I used to play guitar and sing very loudly to them. What great memories.
This one particular episode with the retreat explores an issue with the trans woman, and whether or not she should be truly welcomed at a women’s-only party like that. The festival itself seemed to be so freeing, with people not worried about clothing and letting it all hang out–and there were no qualms about having the perfect body. People just were themselves, which I wish our society was more accepting of. There was a lot of abandonment of every day rules and orientation as with any big party in the woods, but there was the one overtone of exclusivity when it came to the trans parent.
Also in the show is an ongoing arc about the trans woman’s mother, whose trans brother had been arrested and taken away by the Nazis in the 1930s. So this sub-story fits in with an overall concept in the show: that humankind has a systemic problem with accepting others considered different in any way and then roots more deeply and dangerously in the maltreatment and even murder of those considered different or immoral or evil. I could go on and on about the downfalls of patriarchy, as I studied it extensively in anthropology as a student many years ago–matriarchial societies are generally more egalitarian. But here we are today, our world divided in so many ways. I don’t know why it is, but it is. I have experienced knowing those types of exclusive people about a handful of times in my life–people I thought were close but who showed their true colors. For me it’s not bad. I have the freedom of walking away, but for others, it is not possible to walk away. We all see these kinds of attitudes, both at micro and macro levels. The same kind of greed, self-centeredness, intolerance, paranoia, hate, critical judgment, divisiveness, resentment, fear, jealousy, and so on that exists in our next-door neighbor or family member or supposed friend mirrors the same systemic corruption that exists in organized or rogue bodies throughout the world, which causes discrimination, wars, abuse, and so many other completely unacceptable practices.
Like my dad once told me, when I asked him his views of our future: “We’ll be fine as long as the haters, the fundamentalists, don’t take control.”
So when I was in the woods on Sunday, I adored that magical feeling of not knowing where I was at times. Of being separated from the corrupt fabric of society. Of feeling lost or at least, if not completely lost, then free from the shackles of known orientation. I thought about the show “Lost,” which I recently blogged about. John Locke found the eye of the island to be beautiful. I felt that way too–that feeling of not knowing where I might be exactly at any given time, only I knew I was somewhere in the middle of this urban rainforest park, and I was trying to find some gem buried within–Mundy Lake. When I came across the lake, shimmering beneath the sky and reflecting the sun and clouds and trees in a cool wind, it felt like I had discovered Shangri-La. Not one other person was around the lake, and I felt alone and good.