He Ran Across the Sky

It was night time and he was alone, but not lonely. He ran on the top of a very large hill on a trail worn smooth down to reddish dust and with ruts scoured by eons of erosion. The occasional crack of electricity surged across an old powerline, and heat lightning flickered across the sky, a sky that looked like a black curtain pinpricked by thousands of points of starlight. His breathing was more like panting, his throat and the top of lungs were sore from all the hours he had journeyed in the thin air. The trail twisted and turned as it moved up and down along the flow of the land and rocks and tree roots made it necessary to pay attention lest one trip and fall. He forced his pace to be regular, like that of a metronome, because it distracted him from his own tiredness as he ran across the sky.

Clock time had lost its meaning. Occasionally, a feeling of fear or anxiety entered into his mind and filled his heart with panic. Damn it, how much further to go? Damn the miles for loitering. However, he forced himself to let these feelings go for they were feelings, not facts, and to embrace them, to give them large life, meant he would have been consumed by these feelings. Let them come and let them go and don’t let the prisoners run the jail. Fear and anxiety take you out of the present moment and are the killers of dreams. He was thirsty and hungry again so he sipped the remnants of now-warm water from his bottle and he ate a small chunk of banana while he ran. Then he realized how hungry he was and was scared that he would run out of food and not be able to continue to run that night. But you can’t control what might occur any more than control the rising of the sun, so that feeling too was allowed to drift away. More than once, he caught himself training the beam of his flashlight way out in front of him to see what lay ahead but this too was to live in the future so he eventually told himself to train the flashlight only on the ground directly before him as he continued to race across the sky.

As he rhythmically bounced along his mind began to drift back to the past and all that had transpired to get him here. In what seemed like a different universe, there was point in time where he was going to run on a similar journey off in a different land. But he incurred a terrible wound and was fearful he would never run again. In short order, more walls and more hurdles arose. It was all part of the ebb and flow of life and sometimes you need to take a step back in order to take two forward. Out of all of this, he resolved himself back then to train and work as hard as he could to race across the sky, for as long as it took, vowing to never give up. Never, ever give up. Over the months, through the rain and the pain and the sun and the snow, though he stumbled, staggered, faltered, and fell, he always got back up, pressing to run a few seconds faster and a mile longer. There were those who insisted that he wouldn’t be able to run across the sky, those that offered him no support and abandoned him. But he ignored them and prepared to run across the sky anyway and felt internally stronger because of it, because regret, disappointment and bitterness are past-centered feelings that prevent you from living for today and are the killers of dreams.

He was just happy to run and as he ran he told himself “Patience and focus” over and over again like a magic mantra. This kept him focused in the present moment, the only thing over which he had a modicum of control. Realizing that all that we are and all that have is now, with no beginning nor any end. So many things that are outside of you, that are out of your control, did not matter. There were no limits and the only limits that existed were those we set on ourselves. The only thing that mattered was the moment he was living and he loved living and running was a part of his living. He recalled a favorite translated quote from Lao Tzu, in the Tao Te Ching, who said, “If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you aren’t afraid of dying, there is nothing you can’t achieve.” That is how he ran across the sky … one mile at a time.

Along the way, out of habit, he looked for the front two pointer stars of the Big Dipper in order to find the North Star and sought out Orion in the sky. In his mind, a soothing, stirring verse played over and over again, synchronized perfectly with his pace. Down below in a valley near Turquoise Lake was a collection of shimmering lights known as Mayqueen and it was beautiful. As the minutes passed, he focused on the sounds of his footsteps and breathing. Out in the middle of the night, out in the middle of the Colorado Rockies, he felt a surge of strength and of energy from those that had helped him prepare for the journey because they were metaphysically with him now. At this moment he was filled with gratitude and humility and felt like the luckiest man in the world. Gone was any doubt, gone were any expectations and pressure, gone like the remnant ribbons of the wind rustling through the pine trees. All through the months leading to this moment, he did what anyone would do in that darkest moment before the dawn … he clung to hope. The hope of running across the sky sustained him. Hope is a fuel for perseverance.

It was night time and he was alone, but not lonely. There was comfort in the darkness, in his aloneness, and solace in the salt of his tears. He ran up a climbing, rocky road that entered into the center of the town of Leadville. The houses and and buildings had the appearance of being shuttered up and things were strangely calm and quiet. Finally, off in the distance, he saw a small gathering of people, flashing lights, and heard crys of excitement and joy. Sarah, his unwavering friend and right hand, standing off to the side of the street, was patiently waiting and calling for him. He could stop running now for a little while. All that began long ago came to a temporary end. His run across the sky was complete and his love for himself, his friends, all of the world, and life, still remained, enduring, and refusing to fade away.

— Philip Turk

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