One Sunday almost a year ago, J and I decided we would postpone a visit to the art museum, abandon our bikes, and instead, take our running shoes to the MacRitchie Reservoir.
And that was the start of my slow conversion to enjoying the run (Ok, that plus J's nagging and the lure of new gear).
There's something about the singularity of the path during a run. Cement, asphalt, or in the case of our favourite route at the MacRitchie Reservoir, gravel, rock and dirt. It leads from the reservoir itself, up and down some varied slopes, to the boundary of the Singapore Country Club. It is the same 3.5km back to the reservoir.
There's the certainty of the start and the finish. It is a linear narrative. The story is framed the same way each time. And there's something reassuring about this.
Yet there's nothing monotonous about the run.
Especially on a trail through a reserve like MacRitchie. Around a bend where the path widens significantly, some days you can hear the cicadas' song grow louder. Through the leaves, early along a gentle stretch of the trail, there are glimpses of the water's edge. The light that filters through the foliage sometimes leave an accidental painting; sometimes it is a butterfly. One week the growth of bamboo is still, the next, the one has fallen across the path and the growth looks disheveled and shaken. The humidity sometimes surprises by giving up in a sudden downpour. Of course, monkeys - don't stare them in the eye.
All this while during the run, you can hear your own breathing; navigate your body through this environment; know well what is within your control; and by extension, what is not.
During this Sunday's sermon, the pastor recounts his running route around Mount Vernon and the adjacent Bidadari cemetery (when it was still a cemetery...), and the irony of striving to keep fit in an environment that speaks only of the certainty of death. It is a singular path for the body.
J claims that running is, for him, a time to resolve issues, problems and...design briefs! I don't think about much else when I run outside of the running itself. And that's what I enjoy. The focus on the mechanical. But when I do think of anything else, it is mostly when about the beauty of the natural world around me in a place like MacRitchie, and how amazing is the God who made it all.