I always feel like running.
I always feel tense, no matter where I am, or who I am with. Sometimes it is only a little, like when I am only hyper-aware of my surroundings. Sometimes it is worse, my hands are balled into fists, my jaw in cycles between clenched and unclenched, and my shoulders are raised. When it is really bad I start to twitch, first my right eye, then my shoulder, then the muscles in my thighs. I feel trapped, I feel surrounded, I feel as if I am on my way toward the danger even as I sit here perfectly still. I am in a constant state of worry, of fear, of fight or flight from death, and I need to get away.
But where do you run to escape the dangers around every corner. Cover and safety are illusions, do not be fooled. You cannot hide from Death, the only question is, is it running at you as fast as it can, or is it slowly stalking you, getting ever nearer, wearing you down for easier prey? Death could come in any form, a slip, a fall, an unknown heart condition. It could come in the form of a stray bullet, a four-car pile-up, or a burglar in the night. Death is approaching, of that, there is no doubt. No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, it is keeping pace. It watches always and it never rests.
Now I am tired. My heart beats hard, and I get the feeling it may stop. I cannot focus and I cannot just be. My mind races with all the things that can go wrong and even in my sleep I dream of being chased and threatened with violence and harm.
I am told to relax, to take it easy, to put my mind to work on other things, but it isn’t so easy. Can’t people see that staying put is what is dangerous? Can’t people see that through running I can save my life? Why does no one else run? Maybe no one sees the dangers that I do. Maybe the danger is in my head and no one else’s?
No one really cares when you are scared. You must always be strong and you must always appear relaxed. You can’t talk about it, you can’t look like it, and you definitely can’t act on it. So I sit here, tense and twitching, scared and worried, watchful and anxious, waiting for the danger I know is coming. I will sit here and plan and plot to escape and wait for a reason to run.
Because I always feel like running.
Inspired by the poem Running by the late, great Gil Scott-Heron.