Your Facebook feed is full of horror, probably. Not the speculative, entertaining, liberating fictional kind that I write and try to flog to you when the mood takes me (see the banners! click the banners! read the horrors!), but the real world kind. Today is a case in point. In the UK, despite the general mood of the nation, our political overlords have decided that the best way to stop mentally unhinged sociopaths with guns and bombs in Europe is to bomb an army of mentally unhinged sociopaths with guns and bombs in Syria, because, um, reasons, and not wanting to let France and America have all the fun, and other reasons probably, I don’t actually know because what they’re saying doesn’t make any sense in the real world where we actually live.
In America some laws that exist mostly so that people can use firearms to maim and kill other people, because freedom probably, have resulted in firearms being used by people to maim and kill a bunch of people. This has apparently come as a complete shock to many of the those living in the only Western country where this regularly happens.
When these things happen, which of late has been all the fecking time, Facebook fills up with quotes and news and pointless petitions that nobody actually pays attention to but which it makes people feel better to put their name against as though they’re actually doing something. Facebook stops becoming a social network in the pure sense, and transforms into a merciless and relentless examination of the very worst that humanity is capable of.
Except mine hasn’t, because of Advent Running. I posted the other day that I was embarking on this quest – to run for thirty minutes every day from now until xmas. Well, I’m now three days in. So are the hundreds of other people in the AR group on that Facebook, and the vast majority of them are checking in and posting about it. We’re obsessing about shoes, and the weather, and the seasonal darkness, and aches and pains, and even those suffering from serious injuries are doing so with the most enormous grin. People who don’t know each other at all are treating each other as though they’ve been friends for decades. My Facebook wall, for the first time this year, is full of positivity and joy.
Because it’s an adventure, see. One we’re all sharing.
This is at the heart of why I run. I’m never going to be great at it. The fitness is nice, but not something which really drives me to go on. I love spending a little time each day escaping the world, but that’s not what makes me want to take on challenges or do races.
It’s because I want to have adventures.
I’m still twelve, really.
I mean, I’m forty, obviously, as the peppery bits in my rapidly vanishing hair remind me every day (THANKS, PEPPERY BITS IN MY RAPIDLY VANISHING HAIR, THANKS A WHOLE LOT). Alas, as life takes increasingly rigid shapes around me – family, job, dog, home – it becomes increasingly difficult to have adventures. I mean sure, those are good things to happen, and life is an adventure all it’s own and all that thanks for popping by Yoda but those things aren’t the sort of adventure I mean. Running around Edinburgh with The Beard was an adventure. Travelling to Ben Nevis and trying to run around it for twenty-six miles was an adventure. Flying to Mumbai and running through major routes that had been closed off just for us was an adventure. Next year, running the slightly deranged Mighty Deerstalker in March and going coast to coast along Hadrian’s Wall in 24 hours or less in June will be adventures, whether I’m good at them or not.
Running every day until xmas is an adventure too, and one that I’m sharing with hundreds of people united by this one quest. Last year I didn’t know any of them. This year there are names and faces I recognise from last time around, and seeing them again feels weirdly great.
Best of all, I’ve been joined by old friends, who got carried away by my last post about this and joined in.
There’s Em, who is recovering from a broken toe but has thrown herself into the deep end anyway. I haven’t seen her in a decade and a half, though we shared flats for several years. She’s joyfully the same as she always was, but more so.
There’s Tash, who I last saw at my wedding six years ago (she goes to ALL my weddings – it’s totally her thing). Despite not having seen her in so long, she’s one of my best friends in the world. Em and Tash have allowed me to post their AR selfies here despite being all sweaty and grotesque, possibly because they believe that nobody reads this thing anyway. Heh. So innocent.
Anyway, the three of us haven’t been at the same place at the same time since we were at University in the nineties, but this year we’re all sharing an adventure, whether we make it to day 25 or not. When I go for my thirty minute run after I post this, I’m running with Tash and Em too. That makes it even better.
We’ll run away from the real world horror for a bit. It’ll still be there when we get back of course, but so will that Facebook wall, with its cheering and mad adventures. There’s balance there, of a sort.
Right then. It’s dark outside, the rain is battering the windows, and I have a cold. Time to go for a run.