1,468 words. 9 hours and 3 cups of coffee later, and all I had written was 1,468 words. I slammed my laptop shut and sighed. This paper was definitely not progressing, I thought to myself. It was time to call it a night.
I quickly packed up my things and wished my friends the best of luck on their school work. It was finals and everyone was piling up on readings and solving their last equations during the little time they had left. I would normally include myself into that category, but there was just so much on my mind. Academics was not a priority right now.
So I decided to do what I did best when my thoughts overpowered my learning abilities: I run.
Running provided me with an outlet that nothing else could. I didn’t run for the exercise and I sure didn’t run for the pleasure. But I ran to think and I ran to forget.
I also cannot run just anytime. But it had to be under such strict circumstances in order for it to be considered productive. Most importantly, it had to be cold. And not just 50 degree weather, let me bundle up with a hoodie type of cold. It meant cold enough for my body to lose physical feelings within the first 60 seconds of just standing outside.
Irrational, but it was my requirement.
And so without a second thought, I quickly changed, grabbed my ear phones and escaped outside. Running is not a new concept for me, I ran all the time. I knew exactly what each run meant to me for they varied. Some were very emotional and so I’d cry and run. Some were steady, a planned run with a set goal and a set time. And some runs were mental, I ran because I was frustrated. Each run was set perfectly to its mood and a playlist. It had to be just right.
I paced my every breath with every footstep and heartbeat until the rhythm of my body was synchronized with my thoughts. I mentally raced each passing vehicle, every bird and anything that moved. Everything was competition. My thoughts alone were competition. So I increased the volume of my music until I couldn’t hear anything around me and continued running. I’d figure it out later, I thought.
But for some reason, I couldn’t figure out why I was running. I wasn’t emotional, stressed or prepping for a marathon. Why was I running? Things didn’t quite make sense and so out of frustration, I picked up my pace and ran faster. Like a machine, my legs began to furiously speed up as I perfectly paced my 90 degree arms alongside of me. I dodged every pedestrian like racing bullets and jumped every broken sidewalk. I ran until my chest began to rapidly tighten as less and less air was barely making it through my nose and out of my mouth. My stomach began to heat up frantically as I felt every organ inside of me about rip apart. It was hitting me that I was losing my synchronization. I couldn’t run anymore, instead I was breaking.
So I stopped and toppled myself onto the top of the nearest picnic table, struggling to fathom what just happened. I ripped out my earphones and abruptly shut off the loud music. Exhausted, I attempted to regain my breath, allowing for my body to settle as the cold air began to hit me. For a moment I forgot how cold it really was as I felt my face burning up. Everything began to tingle as each body part screeched in numbness. There was so much going on. My head was clouded with so much noise.
But as my body began to settle, it all eventually stopped. Everything. There was not a soul in the street, not a passing car nor any sign of any type worldly existence. The only noise in that moment was coming from me, the panting of my own breath. I couldn’t listen it for some reason it just felt so painstakingly loud. So I held it in momentarily and tried to not think but to simply listen. But what I heard was absolute nothingness. An abyss of silence that so soothingly peaceful.
In the midst of it all, I realized that I was the one causing the noise and the chaos. I was the one who brought upon the disruption. Through every infuriating and exasperating moment of frustration, it was all simply because of me. I was my own enemy.
I calmed my breathing and decided to stop trying to find logic. I had to let everything go, so I did, and in that second, I felt my thoughts ooze out of my ears and my shoulders come to rest. I wasn’t so tense anymore, only immersed within the silence.
My run didn’t go according to plan. It had no distinct purpose. But that was okay because I didn’t need to make logic of a sight that was already so perfectly beautiful. Things were in place so why question it?
And just like that, the sound of nothing, helped me answer everything.