The last time I saw my running shoes, it was only mid-March and too soon for the year to be doomed as an outright failure. Just like any untoward parting, I never foresaw not meeting them for over four months. Back then, the proposal of being cooped up had me feeling more intrigued than distressed. Truth be told, it sounded like a good deal to the underlying homebody in me whose irrational wishes of making a career out of being a couch potato were often snubbed, under the pretext of pursuing professional writing in a competitive world. So when the opportunity (to be lazy) presented itself, I chased my one true dream in the spirit of a true idealist: That of finally getting some sleep in a city which never does.
They say, the universe shows us signs when our desires are about to come true – In this case, the signs were airborne, in the form of a virus that left us with no option but to be lazy. While this was a hard-learned lesson on being careful about what we wish for, it was the first time in forever that not doing anything became quite something. Much like those slow cycling races in school that I could never make sense of, where the end-goal was to be the last one to cross the finishing line, without pausing the pedals. What was the objective they were trying to achieve anyway? And should you celebrate the (de)feat of being the hindmost? In many ways, this year has played out as a long-drawn slow cycling race, where the finishing line is 365 days away. Until we get there, we need to keep pedalling, slowly and steadily.
Wait, what was I talking about before I started spiralling, or might I say, cycling? My running shoes, yes! (See, I told you I was a professional writer, but I never said I’m a good one.) When the starter pistol was fired, my running shoes were too proud to switch to the slow mode, after having lived their entire life rushing, hurrying, sprinting and speeding. It’s not all their fault, though. We were spending way too much time together than was deemed healthy. My running shoes would tag along with me everywhere, helping me overtake the fastest racer I’ve ever competed against: Time. I had no complaints, but our constant companionship made it difficult to evaluate our relationship objectively. And just like that, my running shoes went on an indefinite break inside the rack.
Four months had passed since I heard from the running shoes, but I wasn’t thinking about them either. I was actually doing quite well without them, or so I thought. My legs had stiffened and my belly felt bloated. Sometimes, we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. My running shoes weren’t particularly thriving either. When I finally opened the shoe rack almost half a year later, I found a layer of dust clinging to their surface.
We decided to come to a compromise. I would go back to spending as much time with them as I used to and my running shoes would learn to adjust to the slow mode. For the first time in four months, I was running. Slowly, yes, but still running. The stiffness in my legs started evaporating; I felt light on my feet. My running shoes were also in a better shape, now that they were being put to good use. And just like that, we learned to master ‘The Slow Cycling Race Of 2020’. Now we knew that its objective had nothing to do with pedalling the cycle or reaching the finishing line, but in fact, maintaining balance. Balance, the ability to give just enough attention to all that we consider important in life, without compromising one for the other.
And yes, it is a feat worth celebrating.