The Heat of Summer

People look at me funny when I tell them that I love this kind of weather- especially when I tell them that I love working out in it. “This kind of weather” of course refers to the thick, humid heat that defines summer in Chicago. I learned to like it when I was working summers in Virginia and I had a spare hour of dinner break on which to work out. Even a short run was hard work in the heat and humidity of a Virginian summer, but afterwards, drenched in sweat, I felt like I’d really accomplished something, and after that I felt really relaxed.

The other day in the midst of a heat warning and a heat index in triple digits I went for a run. It was later on in the evening so the worst heat of the day was over but it was still pretty hot out. I wasn’t planning on going far or pushing myself too hard. After running a spare two miles I called it quits. I was already sweaty from head to toe. After a short walk around the building where I live I decided I might as well do some stretching before going inside. The green between the buildings of our complex is usually full of the local kids playing soccer or goofing off but today it was completely deserted. There wasn’t another soul outside in any direction as far as I could see. I thought that this might be what it would be like to be the last person on earth. And frankly I thought everyone cowering indoors was a sucker. I was sweaty and gross, but the shade and the breeze felt beautiful and I was the only one feeling it. I took my time stretching not because I am terribly diligent about my cool downs but because I just didn’t want to go back inside into the air conditioning where I knew I would need a sweater and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the low sunlight and the breeze.

I don’t really have a point to all this except that every summer I promise myself I am going to spend more time outside enjoying summertime and every summer I fail. This year I’ve started running diligently again which has been a huge help: suddenly I feel a whole new connection to the season, the neighborhood I live in, and the time that otherwise seems to fly by in a grey sort of monotony. I find myself constantly torn between wanting to make the most of every minute with hard, conscientious work and wanting to spend every minute in stillness and solitude just enjoying the fact of my own existence. Maybe someday I will find the right balance between the two.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 23, 2011.

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