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I’m Learning To Stay

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slow down, stay, don't run, stay in the moment, girl looking at skylineLeo Hildago

I don’t know where on my journey I learned to run. When I was younger, it felt like the only answer. Physically, to lace up my shoes and go was a kind of freedom in itself. Mentally, to create my corner of the world through poetry made more sense than pretending I had all the answers.

I was always running from something.

I wrote about this in my first collection of poetry—how I ran from my mother’s voice, from the first arms that held me, from the first kiss that tasted like wildfire and sunshine and regret. From myself.

Until I finally stopped and realized running could only take me so far. No matter where I went, the sunset still followed me. Those same stars still shined back at me from that midnight sky.

I don’t think I was always running to escape. It wasn’t always a running to forget. Sometimes it was a running to remember. Sometimes the memories flooded back when my shoes hit the pavement, when the breathing got ragged and my legs were both heavy and light.

Sometimes, I think, I ran to find rather than to lose myself.

Running felt natural. The way I didn’t have the answers, and yet, as that gravel crunched beneath the soles of my shoes, that didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but steadying my breathing, but watching the cornfields, or the highways, or the quiet country roads fade past my peripheral vision. Nothing mattered by the music in my ears, or sometimes even the silence. The quiet loudness of breath from somewhere deep inside me, grounding me to the earth.

I ran because it made sense. Because when I didn’t know where else to go, I could leave. But always come back. Until the day I didn’t. Until the day I ran so far everything tasted different.

And I suddenly realized I’d been running not away, but towards. Running as a means of searching, not necessarily leaving.

Now, the world feels different. The ground beneath my soles is welcoming, the exhale is not forced but fluid. My heartbeat pounds to a new rhythm, one in tune with the cars on the pavement, the waves in the sea.

Now, for the first time, I’m learning to slow down. I’m learning to be still. I’m learning to seek the answers within myself. I’m learning to be here, in the present moment, soaking up all that is around me, all that is already inherently a part of me when I close my eyes.

Instead of rushing, running, trying to fill myself with all these fragments of the world, I’m learning to stay. To exist within my own body. To cultivate and become light and love, rather than blindly search for it.

I’m learning the beauty of living in a place of ‘enoughness.’ Where right now is enough. Where I am enough. Where the people around me are more than enough. Where love is enough.

I’m learning that there are still so many things I don’t know, and that searching for them is healthy. But that I don’t always have to run as a means of self-discovery.

That there is beauty in shoes on pavement, but also beauty in sitting on the sand, breathing in the morning mist.

There is beauty in simply existing, rather than chasing.

I’m learning to lace up my running shoes, to go and go and go until my lungs feel like deflated balloons and my legs hang heavy from my hips, but then putting those shoes by the door sometimes. And trading sneakers for bare feet, wandering along the beach—simply letting the answers come. TC mark

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