I have a reoccurring dream in which I am running with great speed, yet with no effort, no shortness of breath; I am levitating, my feet a few inches above the ground. I am usually running through a city, running with joy, not panic. People step aside, opening the way for me. I feel an exhilarated sense of bliss, as if in heaven, even after awakening.
From the window by my computer, I see a variety of runners pass down our street that is unusually wide and inviting, lined with mature, shading trees. Many are housewives, power walking together, chattering happily in groups of three or four, others are serious lunchtime runners from local businesses. A few are solitary men or women my age, jogging slowly in short, tiny steps, looking down with focused determination. Just now I recognized a neighbor’s 13-year-old daughter bounding by with incredible ease and energy.
A few years ago, there was a TV spot on Kip Keino’s son who was preparing for the Olympics at an American university. Kip Keino, you may remember, was one of the first of Kenya’s fantastic long distance runners who came to dominate the sport.
The newscaster was telling the story from the university’s track, and in the distance Kip Keino and his son were running together toward the camera. Even from far away, it was obvious which was which. Kip, once one of the world’s greatest runners, was running flat-footed, plodding heavily along as you would expect from a man his age. His son, however, was running effortlessly as if on springs, his feet barely touching the ground, his energy barely held in check.
My neighbor’s 13-year-old runs just like that. And just like me in my dreams.