I am running in China. Again. I am wearing my “I heart Beijing” (in Chinese characters) t-shirt. I have a close-fitting tank top underneath my t-shirt and in this 30+ degrees C summer heat it feels like I am burning slowly from the inside. I am on fire. I don’t perspire; I don’t sweat. I burn on the inside. I risk what is left of my good health to display the friendly message on my t-shirt. Priorities.
As usual, thoughts flash to life like fireworks. They burst and bounce around then disappear to make space for nothing. I am tired of people staring. I’m already bored with the message on my t-shirt. Why doesn’t everyone already get it? Why doesn’t anyone ever get me?
Then my MP3 player sings a song about a man’s death and suddenly I am inspired to run further. How can I expect anyone to understand that this song inspires me? But the song has lyrics that speak of the farthest reaches of any universe: the human heart. The theoretical human heart. Light would travel for centuries to reach me and mine. Why have I constantly attempted to appear happy and content when nothing could be further from the truth?
Because light would travel for centuries to reach me. I am not one in a million, I am one in infinity. Amazing that I can be in a city of 12 million and feel isolated. Amazing that I could have loved hundreds and at those times felt my desperate loneliest. Contrary to Chinese opinion, significant others do not prevent loneliness. Partners and marriage do not stop it. The arms that hold you can belong to a heart as far away as the sun of a different galaxy. Carbon. Water. Random electrical charge. Love.
A smile on my face like the “I heart Beijing” t-shirt I wear now. This run is fueling me, burning me. I am everything human and nothing I want to be. I need life as much as life needs me to sustain it. People flash to life like my thoughts, run around, then disappear. The older I get, the less able are my eyes but the more clearly I see my place in the universe. The sun, the burning. Like the MP3 song, I will end. Next song. Energy transferred from one form to another. Burning energy. Oil—earth’s blood—burning. My blood, burning. Love—cool water—thrown on this oil fire.
That man is smoking, but I’m not. I’m not smoking, but this run is killing me. Life is killing me. This is all just killing me.