Onism – n. the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die – and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here. – Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
I run because I feel constantly inundated with the size of the world and my inability to experience all but the tiniest slice of it. Everywhere I look I see photos and hear stories of places I will never go. I see mountains orders of magnitude taller than the hills near where I live. I see magazine covers of vistas wilder than my dreams. I read stories of adventures far longer than mine will ever be.
Onism is a feeling that sits deep within me; it is a disconcerting emotion that makes me restless and the only respite from it is to run. Someday I may visit the Himalayas, Patagonia, and the Alps but I know that tonight I will lace up my shoes like I do every other night and I will place one foot in front of the other as I move through the small part of the world that I inhabit.
I run because the summation of the elevation I gain in a year makes Everest look small. I run because my miles may be the same miles on the same trails in the same town, but they transport my mind to the furthest reaches.
I run to free myself from a single place and instead to become part of the landscape where my daily experiences of pain, beauty, desolation, freedom, and joy create a deep bond with the area in which I roam. I run so that when I look at a globe I can know that my life is not a minuscule pinprick denoted with an arrow, but instead a collection of ephemeral lines tracing the topography of life.