Striding out into a desolate world as the sun begins to rise, the noiseless, blissfully unpeopled streets feel like a protected space, a blank canvas unsullied by individual or collective manmade splatters. Nothing else matters other than this heart-thumping stretch of time where the only discernible impact on the ground beneath my feet and the clean air that surrounds me is the careful, conscious movements I make.
As I pick up the pace, landing with a firm intention but a soft footfall, I focus on my form, allowing my steps and my subconscious to lead the way. Where am I even going? Nowhere, anywhere, only here. The point isn’t to head in any particular direction, it’s to extend and linger in these moments that unfold in parallel with the break of dawn.
That’s where the magic is.
The whole physical and psychological process becomes one. My mind-space expands outwards, and I become embroiled in two concurrent thought trances — the one that pays attention to the world around me and the one that processes the reflections they inspire.
Ideas fall in like meteorites, as though the act of propelling myself forwards has set in motion a cerebral motor that will only get going once my feet do. In this zone of sheer physical and mental release, I am exalted. I run, therefore I pay attention, and thus I am a writer.
Running is where I feel, think and become the better version of myself. It isn’t immediately comfortable, it doesn’t always feel natural, but it’s a strain I welcome and endure because as the momentum builds, the realisation sets in that all I need to do is keep going and the flow will come.
It’s where there is no agenda other than the space and time around me, where my instinct for solitude can be realised unencumbered by the social or digital pressure to connect. Everything extraneous to the moment is cast off, like the physical separation of a space shuttle as it undocks and then bit by bit, is released from the components it no longer needs as it heads for orbit, the ideal of infinite space unhindered by the gravitational pull of Earthly matters. …
Aliya Mughal: I’m a dedicated follower of wordsmithery and wisdom in its many guises. Reader, writer, storyteller – if there’s a thread to follow and people involved, I’m interested. I’ve built my life around words, digging out the stories that matter and need to be told – about science, feminism, art, philosophy, covering everything from human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, to famine and the aid game in Rwanda, to how the intersection of art and science has the power to connect the disparate forces of humanity with the nanoscopic forces of our sacred Earth. Find me @AliyaMughal1