am i a runner?

A few years ago a friend said to me in conversation, “You really are a runner, aren’t you?”  She wasn’t referring to running in the physical exercise sense of the word, but emotional running.

I was living in Australia at the time, having made the decision to travel there after a horrible past year in my hometown.  I don’t remember the details of our conversation, but it’s irrelevant.  The point was, not only did she think I was a ‘runner’ in that moment, it was clearly something she had considered before.

me and the rock

me and the rock

When I first arrived in Australia, the newness of everything distracted me from the pain I felt inside.  The dry earth, the overwhelming yellowness (as compared to the cool, damp green of Vancouver), the heat, the accents…it was all raw, wonderful, and a little confronting. But as the weeks wore on, the realization gradually settled in…wherever you go, there you are.

All those painful feelings I’d left behind hadn’t really gone anywhere, and they wouldn’t for a while.  They were in me, and no matter where I went in the world, there they would remain.  Moving to a new geographic location wasn’t going to heal what only time could.

My friend’s words have left an imprint on me.  It’s five years later, and I find myself wanting to start anew yet again.  Something has always felt missing in my life.  I’ve blamed my city, the weather, its people.  I’ve long thought my ‘real’ home was somewhere else.

I recently made the decision to leave my job this summer, and travel abroad for a couple of months.  I have fantasies of starting a brand new life in another country, meeting new people, doing something completely different.  Isn’t that what life is all about, especially in this age of awakening?  Following your heart, dreaming big, taking a leap of faith?  Saying YES?

Or am I motivated by something else entirely?  Running away…escape…an inability to be present…boredom?

I know that I can’t evade whatever is inside me. If there was one thing Australia taught me, it’s that.  Wherever I go, there I am. 

So I ask myself: am I at peace within?

My inner voice (gently): No.

Why not?

You don’t meditate.

[Sigh. Again with the meditation.] What does that mean?

You can’t sit in silence for 10 minutes without getting antsy or finding a distraction.  How can you know what is within, if you don’t let yourself experience it?  How can you have peace with that which you don’t acknowledge?


It’s clear why my friend’s words struck a chord (or nerve).   I have had a strong urge to flee situations that I find uncomfortable.  Not only physical places, but interactions and relationships.  Perhaps even my own emotions and inner being, which I thought I was in touch with.

I think I’m running towards something better ‘out there’, but the trajectory is usually more like a circle.  There’s a part of me that still firmly believes that when I find the right job, city, partner, etc., things will finally fall into place. I put so much pressure on myself to create this, to search for this, to make it happen.

I’m still valuing the ‘doing’ over the ‘being’.

I know better than this. I’m chasing the ever elusive.

And as crazy as it sounds, a part of me also fears that by going within – by finding peace – I won’t be motivated to change my outer world.  That I will accept things the way they are, and become passive about my life.

But does acceptance necessarily result in inaction?  And is it possible that inner peace would transform my life in a way that no amount of world travelling could? Maybe I would look at my present life with new eyes.  Maybe I’d even fall in love with it.  Maybe I’ve never felt a connection to my city, because I’ve never felt it to myself.

Attempting to mentally determine the difference between ‘running away’ and ‘advancing towards’ is somewhat pointless. There are too many competing voices vying for my attention, and they all say the same old things.

I do know there is a genuine wanderlust and love of freedom within me, and it will likely yearn to express itself throughout my life. But I am beginning to understand that only when I’m intimately familiar with my inner landscape will I be able to fully appreciate what’s on the outside.

It may be that the ultimate adventure lies in stillness.

28 thoughts on “am i a runner?

  1. Pingback: time to jump ship | alohaleya

  2. Pingback: italy won’t go away | alohaleya

  3. I love this so much! I relate so deeply. I had the same experience and realized I was bringing everything I was running away from in my baggage. Reading this helped me to integrate what is needed to release the desire to run. Sat Nam!


  4. Whoa, yes, I can definitely relate. I am sure you are familiar with Vipassana? This is what came to mind as I was reading this post. Seeking the silence has always been an issue for my naughty ego. I have to trick the ego with some sort of distraction, like qigong, or guided meditation but true silence of the mind has alluded me.

    I made a blog post, “Where you go, there I am.” That is indeed a deep and true statement.

    Great post as all that I have read thus far have been.


    • interesting you mention vipassana…i have always been terrified of it. hah. yup it’s that ego! the thought of prolonged silence just too much!! i also gravitate to mantra or kirtan (or abraham hicks, hah) to focus my mind. i’m going to check out your post!


  5. Enjoyed your post. I spent many years as a runner, as well. I traveled much of the world and had many adventures. Like you, at some point I realized that there was more I was running from than running toward — and, eventually, I got the courage to stop. I learned how amazing it is to have long-term friends — not the ones you email but the ones you see, and interact with, personally. I saw that, when you’re a runner, you grow horizontal roots, but when you stop, your roots grow down deep. I learned to meditate and do yoga. I got married and had a kid. I’m enjoying the deep roots sooo much.

    I feel that inner adventures are even more satisfying and growthful than the outer ones — though a balance of both is nice. Wishing you great blessings on your journey!


    • i love what you say about horizontal roots vs deep roots. it’s so interesting; since i wrote this post, i’ve been feeling differently about my hometown. like i’m seeing all the beauty and amazing things about it, including friends and family, and feeling very blessed to call this home.
      i’ve been so resistant to nurturing the roots here, and now, something has shifted where i’m opening to the idea of putting further roots down. so your comment makes me smile…thank you so much for sharing your experience and wise words. namaste, aleya


    • thanks very much! i look forward to watching this. marianne williamson’s name keeps coming up for me these days. 😉 i enjoyed your blog too. namaste, aleya


  6. I was just thinking about this very issue this morning – if I get to a place of nonresistance and totally, truly living in the moment (Eckhart Tolle), will I just forfeit all my wishes and dreams (Wayne Dyer)? I also have genuine wanderlust and a love of freedom. I am at that part of my journey where I know these (and my dreams) can exist with nonresistance, but I’m still learning how. Thanks for articulating this so well.


    • thank you! i read your blog after i wrote this post and felt we were in a similar place. it was perfect timing for me to read the eckhart tolle link you posted, as he writes about this very thing – how inner peace makes interaction with the present moment active and exciting. 🙂


  7. Wonderful writings. Isn’t it something “wherever we go there we are”?…painful, awakening and lovely.


    • it is something…i’m very thankful to have that awareness and reminder, to bring all of me – inside and out – to life’s adventures…diving in. 🙂 thank you!


  8. While you do take yourself wherever you go, sometimes “doing a geographic” can be instrumental in healing. In 2009, the goal of leaving home for two months of natural horsemanship study was the only thing that sustained me in a time of inescapable suffering at home. I think it’s Tony Robbins that says you can act yourself into a new way of thinking much quicker and easier than trying to think yourself into a new way of thinking, so if travelling excites and entices you, maybe that could be an important component to your healing, especially since you’re already attune to your tendency to run. Intention is everything. If you travel with the intention of following your heart and diving inward for spiritual growth, then you can make the focus of your outward travels, a journey inward.

    Martha Beck says if you’re confused about whether your are wishing for something (a head goal) or if you’re in intention (a soul goal), use your body. If you really, really want something, it makes you feel physically stronger. If you say, “I want peace.” you can feel the resounding strength of that truth in your body, in your gut. If you think you want it, but you don’t really want it, it makes you feel weaker, and it’s very, very noticeable.

    I LOVE what TamaraJo said about mindfulness. I think that’s really key. Working with animals (especially my horses) has taught me about really being in the moment and about how often we’re not. When you’re playing with horses on the ground or in the saddle and you mentally leave the moment, you can really get into trouble in a hurry… because horses never leave the present moment and they’re prey animals, they’re 1200 lb chickens. So I find it easy to be mindful with my horses, but transferring that to daily activities is initially difficult, but extremely important, because the present moment is really all there is and the only place in which you can transform your life.

    I loved your post, so wonderfully introspective, which inspires me to be introspective as well 🙂



    • right on sister! thank you for sharing your wise words. i love the tony robbins line about acting yourself to a new way of thinking…it’s so true. all the analyzing in the world can only go so far! 😉 it’s wonderful that horsemanship, and your horses, have been such a source of healing and wisdom for you.

      “If you travel with the intention of following your heart and diving inward for spiritual growth, then you can make the focus of your outward travels, a journey inward.”- you hit the nail on the head – that’s really what it’s about for me. i’ve already started to look into yoga trainings and retreats, to connect with like-minded souls…in addition to sight-seeing and having fun of course! (italy’s on my list) 🙂

      thanks again for your comment, it’s wonderful to follow each other’s journeys! namaste, aleya


      • You’re welcome and I agree! I’m wanting to build my art business into something that requires or allows for world travelling and spiritual seeking working in tandem. So we’re on the same page 🙂


  9. I could have written this post 20 years ago – – so, not as a lecture, but rather a sharing – I’ll tell you what I found during my running years wondering if I just meditated, if I wouldn’t be better off-

    Meditation need not be still/quiet – I found a deep and profound peace in simply practicing mindfulness – for instance – being completely present to the fact I’m washing the dishes, or weeding the garden – and if my mind starts to wander, I gently bring it back to the present experience of doing…

    That being at peace and accepting the moment does not mean condoning it or the injustices you see – that seeing it as it is, finding the gift or perspective or inspiration for something new born of the moment, may be called passive, but in truth, is not – it’s an awesome interaction that revives and energizes.

    That when I choose to sit still and meditate – allowing my thoughts to pass by, much as I watch a parade go by is helpful – – No one jumps in the middle of the street and exclaims “Stop the parade! I must look at this float in more detail, I must ask the float master what he did, what he is doing, where he is going”
    No, rather I watch the parade go by, watching and let each thought pass without holding on to it –

    I’ve never regretted my running – even though it’s currently brought me back to the place from which I started – I think back to so many experiences and people I would have missed out on, had I not run – –

    So run or not, meditate or not – it will all work out, somehow, in the end – we each have our own kind of peace and the ways in which we discover it 🙂


    • thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and sharing your perspective. as you probably guessed i feel i ‘should’ meditate more often…i try to avoid the word but in truth i have a lot of ‘shoulds’ in my head about what inner peace/spirituality is, and how to best cultivate that state.

      when really, this path is about learning our own way. accepting/being grateful for the wisdom of our teachers, but figuring it out ourselves, as we go along. and for me, perhaps i’m running towards my own truth, gathering experiences along the way, to come back to my center. i also love your point that mindfulness revives and energizes, rather than renders us passive. how it can be an active interaction with the present, yielding its own awesomeness and richness.

      thank you again for your comment, and for the reminder everything all works out in the end. that is the journey. namaste, aleya


  10. Once again, you are wonderful! This world needs sensitive people like you though I admit it is painful at times. It would be easier if we had a switch to just “turn off” our heart every now and then!


    • yes, sometimes i wonder what it would be like to not ‘feel’ so much. i’m getting more comfortable with my sensitivity because it can be a powerful thing when it’s seen/nurtured as a strength. thank you for your kind words. it’s great that blogging allows sensitives to express themselves, as it can be challenging to do so in day-to-day life. namaste.


Comments are closed.