BALANCE – (Runner up – Create Nature Competition – University of Westminster – May 2021)

Cold rain splashing against my face, hair soaked and sticking to my head.  My body simultaneously cold from the biting wind and warm from the exertion of running.  Thud, thud, thud … foot following foot.  That regular rhythm and sense of being propelled endlessly forward.  I want to be calm, but serenity is not my strength,

You are sick – radiotherapy, chemotherapy, liquid food through a tube.  You are in pain… So much pain – exist in a diamorphine haze and sleep for 22 hours a day.  We are in lockdown, trapped in the house.  You sleep and I worry – unrelenting fear. At daybreak I quietly leave the house and run as fast as I can along inner-city streets.  Escape!

At first my chest is tight and I gasp for air. I sense the cold and feel my muscles awakening and aching.    Then I notice the park around me – breath and body begin to align.  The trees are emerging into spring, leaves unfurling, each day a little greener.  The rain stops, my pace slows as I feel the morning sun emerge, and gently touch my skin.  I become aware of birdsong – the harsh chatter of a magpie – that noisy, rasping front-man, backed by the melodies of blackbirds, thrushes and the coo of city pigeons.  A joyous avian chorus.  I feel tension melting away, and a growing resilience as each stride becomes effortless.  I smell the fresh damp grass and notice my footprints in the dew.   With each breath I relax, find space for my thoughts, feel my heart become lighter and my spirit lift.  Surrounded by nature I get things into perspective, become myself and feel joyful, alive.  My balance restored, I calmly jog back home. 

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