"But Mom, running isn't just about running fast and winning. It's about seeing the world, and feeling your body become a part of the world as the uphills squeeze your muscles, and the downhills pull you like a leash, and you breathe in as much air as you can until you are made of the same stuff as nature is." "I used to feel that way, Oscar. But now when I run I drop out of my body instead of dropping in. I just feel like garbage."
Well... mostly to ourselves. We were running through the skirt of the mountain, where the boulders and bushes fight to see who can win the trail, when I came around the corner and saw a turtle-person right in front of me. "What are you doing here? Let me see your early morning permit!" I barked. She looked suitably scared of me, so when Mom called my name, I figured it was okay to leave the turtle-person, go get Mom and show her.
Who's to say one human's goals are better than another's. There is room on the course for all kinds of runners*, and if everyone were fast then it would be too crowded for anyone to run their best race. Telling Fabiola that she should quit her 10K just because she walks a lot would be like telling Michael Phelps that he should quit swimming because he's never going to win the Super Bowl. Michael Phelps would of course tell you that the Super Bowl isn't his goal, and then put on his 23 gold necklaces and laugh at Tom Brady's 5 tiny Super Bowl rings.
I know from experience what happens when you have love in your heart: the more love you give away, the more you get back. Mom explained to me that money is not like love. Apparently, once you give money away you have to work to grow some more for the next thing that you want. The great thing, though, is that limited money can be converted into infinite love when a stranger uses it to reach out and tell a stray that they're valuable, that they deserve the same opportunities as the other kids, and that someone cares.
I was adopted, and it was the best thing that happened to both me and Mom, but mostly Mom. We want to repay our good luck by helping other strays find the same kind of love and security that we have. Mom is "allergic to children," so we can't bring any home, but there are other ways to help. Instead, I have committed to raise money for Mountain Circle Family Services, which runs programs so that the stray people puppies can learn leadership through fun adventures a lot like those that Mom and I enjoy together. Just like Mom loves me, keeps me safe, teaches me about the world, and takes me to explore, Mountain Circle provides the same kind of love to the people puppies until they find their forever home.
“I’m not worried about hikers. There are cats that hide in these trees. They jump down and before you know what’s happened, they've grabbed you by the head are dragging you into the bushes to eat you up.” “Oh! I love cats!” I said. “They are great fun to chase! I hope one drops on me.” “Not these cats…” Mom warned. Mom gets so scared of the silliest things.
The trail turned out to be an easy 7-mile flat route that followed a happy river through the pine trees to a waterfall. “Isn’t this great, Mom?” I said. “No dirt roads to get here, no mountains to climb, no big trees blown over the trail, no dog-boiling weather... Just a nice, easy run through the pine trees.”
The thing that had turned Mom into a a cream puff was that there was a perfect waterfall falling from right above our heads. It was small enough that its roar wasn’t scary and you could look at it all at once, and it spit a mist into the air that made the air sparkle. All around the waterfall were shiny rocks with bright green furry moss decorating them, and next to the big waterfall were smaller blue ice waterfalls. On the ground there were giant chunks of ice that were perfectly clear and looked like soccer-ball-sized diamonds. We were in a fairy land for tough people, like that elf city in Lord of the Rings (obviously, I’m Legolas and Mom is Gimli).
It took a couple of miles, but eventually reality caught up with Mom when the white dirt started sucking up her legs like a couple of pieces of spaghetti. Every time she tried to climb out of the hole, sluuuurp, her leg would get sucked back in up to the shorts line. On each one she let out a roar that was a little bit like a gladiator going into battle, and a little bit like someone whose leg was being bitten off by an alligator.