Seeing Stars

Posted on October 26, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

San Antonio is the first big city I’ve lived in since I started running 13 years ago.  Before now, I’ve lived in small towns or on the outskirts of big ones, far enough away from neighbors that I didn’t have to worry about loud music or closed curtains.

I love San Antonio, and I’m glad to live here.  But one thing I miss about living away from a city is stars.

When I took up running, I lived in Guam. If you want to see how small you really are, live on an island for awhile.  I never comprehended how vast the sky is until I could see it unimpeded by buildings, light, or smog.   There were few well-lit routes to run, but the sky was so clear and bright, especially when the moon was on either side of full, that lights weren’t really necessary.   And the bonus? I regularly got the privilege of running under shooting stars and meteor showers.

The skies above Salado, Texas, where I moved when I came back to the States, were nearly as clear as in Guam. Minus the shooting stars and meteor showers.  Nevertheless, I ran in the dark, under starry skies, eyes always up in search of constellations.

Darkness has its drawbacks.  When you’re unaccustomed to your route you run the risk of tripping over roots or falling into potholes.  But if you tread the same dark path enough times, your feet learn where the sidewalk ends, leaving your eyes to pursue higher things.

Now that I live in the city, I am learning to refocus my gaze.  We all know the trick of running up hills:  Train your gaze a few feet in front of you instead of on the horizon.  Trick your brain into seeing a straight, level path instead of an incline.

My gaze has been cast down not so much to level the hills with my eyes, but in an attempt to avoid treading in the dog poop thoughtless people leave behind.  You run the same sidewalks enough times, you learn where to take the detour into the street.

I still love to run in the dark and am fortunate to have a few stretches on my route that fall outside the puddles of streetlights.  I find that when I’m running through the darkest stretches, my eyes automatically look up, searching for the pattern of stars that lets me know where I am.  I guess I’ve trained my eyes well after all.  And tomorrow when I set out on my path, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to see stars.

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