|"Our nation has lost its greatest son," President Jacob Zuma
May former president Nelson Mandela Rest in peace
I PROCRASTINATE at the magnolia tree. I could just sit here, lost among the crushed purple and white reminiscence of delicate petals. I could walk back inside, I could pour myself a large cup of coffee or even return to the cocoon of my bed. But no, it’s nine o’clock on a Sunday morning, and I am going for a run.
It is as if each leaf on every tree has managed to absorb the heat from the sun’s rays. It shines down upon my lily white legs and warms my shins. Yet, the back of my legs, or any limb doused in shadow, is wrapped in the coolness of the morning. That is the joy of winter. The weak sun and the cold clean mornings.
I jump. Once, twice, a third time for good measure. I’m not sure why I jump before I run, but one sees Olympic gold-medallists and highly accomplished athletes jumping before their races and we assume it kick starts an engine of some description. The jump finds the on-button within us. I, unfortunately, haven’t found this on-button yet, and am left feeling less energised than I was before.
I breathe in, sigh, and look down. I have goosebumps, my legs are unshaven and I’m practically blending into my stark white socks. What I need to be doing is tanning, not running. Yes, tanning on a Sunday morning, that sounds far more fitting.
Ten past nine.
I really am going for a run. I will sweat. I will breathe in the heavy, slightly choking air of Maritzburg. I will weave between its luscious green roads and small footpaths. I will pass familiar faces and in-between catching my breath on steep hills, I will have short conversations with domestic helpers in very bad Zulu. I will run past restaurants and hairdressers that were once beautiful houses. I will pass a sum total of three cars as I run. They will be going to church, leaving town or heading for the nearest coffee shop for a Sunday family breakfast. I will make my way along the route I’ve run for the past five years, passing family friends, old boyfriends, old and current school friends, and people I don’t even know yet, all asleep in their beds. I will stop at the traffic lights and turn down a very enthusiastic newspaper salesman, for the second time this morning. I will be barked at by ridiculous-looking poodles and rat-like dogs. I will bark back at them, and then be shot looks by their owners. I will clear my head of anxieties for the week ahead. I will grimace as I feel my legs burn as the road suddenly steepens. I will dodge and hurdle uncollected garbage bags. I will pass fresh-faced power walkers who move their bodies while walking in ways I can’t comprehend and with co-ords I will never have. I will push myself to carry on, when persevering is the last and only thought in my head. I will stand victorious at the top of Roberts Road and look down on the hazy city I call my home. I will feel my body glowing with energy because as I run I fly for a second. I’m suspended between pavement and crisp air, every muscle in my body frozen for a second. The weightlessness of that second is what I live for.
Twenty past nine.
My on-button, I fear, is broken. The morning breeze wraps its unwanted hands down my legs. The sun shines down on me through the oak trees. And although I am highly unmotivated, I am now shamed into at least attempting a run as I know the old ladies across the street have been watching me for the last 20 minutes. I stretch over dramatically and secure a determined expression on my face. I breathe, pause for a second, and start on my journey.
Quarter to ten.
I did run. I ran until I couldn’t breathe. And then I ran some more. The air did claw at my throat. Twigs and sticks broke underneath my takkies which were doused in dew. I made my way, one foot after the other, along my daily track. I did all the things I knew I would and when standing at the top the hill I felt that sense of accomplishment, that moment when all the hard work, sweat and being barked at, is worth it. I swam my way, spiralling down side roads and avenues lined with foliage from bamboo to bottlebrush. I passed the old lady’s window, and although she wasn’t there, peering over her bird cage to see me pass by I didn’t need the recognition, for I knew I had run and that was all that mattered.
So now I stand, staring at my new sock tan, and I realise it’s not about finding your on-button; it’s about creating one. It’s not doing things because someone’s watching; it’s about doing them because you want to. And it’s all about doing things that, like the sun on the small leaves of a magnolia tree, will truly light you up.
About the author
Sarah Lax likes sipping Chai tea, the sound of the rain, baking and cooking food, wearing, buying or just dreaming about shoes, going to the beach and dipping her toes in the water, doing cool things with her best friends, the feeling of doing exercise and getting into bed at the end of the day.