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    Run For Your Life, Black Hockey Jesus!
    Main | A Half Eaten Pear »

    Falling Sober

    Without getting too technical – yawn – my trainer, Jimmy, is messing with the way I run. In addition to landing on the middle of my foot and shortening my stride with quicker leg turnover, he also has me falling forward. Way way forward.

    “Gravity dude. If you want to run faster, just fall forward and have faith in your legs. They’ll catch you.”

    I love to get drunk and super high on drugs. The reason I love to get drunk and super high on drugs is because alcohol and drugs round the edges of the world. They’re like ontological sandpaper. Alcohol and drugs turn the knife’s blade into the splashing wave between a woman’s waist and hip.

    The world, man. It’s not some hard and fast thing. Physicists know it’s empty. Monks know it flows. Poets know it’s the water in the belly of a fish. And yet we live in a reified world of rigid angles and hard edges. We knock on wood and it makes me anxious. It makes me thirsty for waves and curves and the wisdom of circles.

    But for reasons that would bore you – yawn – I’ve left all that behind. I’m sober. I’m sober and I’m leaning way way forward when I run, finding faith in my legs. But, beyond faith, I continue to imagine the empty flowing world in the belly of the fish and, even if I lean too far, even if I fall, I know in my heart that I’ll hit the sidewalk with a splash.


    NOTE: My brief one sentence sobriety updates have become quite a party. Leave an email address in the comments or shoot an email to if you want to join the fun.

    Reader Comments (39)

    We teach the same thing in dance - stop looking at your feet, they're not going anywhere you're not.

    Sign me up - I could always use a little party.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrish Smith

    I could use some party time. Count me in.

    Also, if you squint your eyes or look to the world through your tears, it softens things and rounds the edges, too.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterForgotten

    I'm midway through Step 11 in a weekly Al-Anon family group run by a woman dying of pancreatic cancer. We've been at it for eight months. I know a good party when I see it. Sign me up.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTracy (Tiny Mantras)

    I'm curious, is your trainer suggesting something like the Pose method for your running?

    May 31, 2011 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

    He's never called it The Pose. We just watched a lot of video and my heel strike was slowing me down, so he's trying to get my feet landing beneath my body.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterBHJ

    ontological sandpaper. beautiful, metaphorical journey that takes me on.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterBon

    You fell running? I stumbled yesterday and it scared the crap out of me. I'm glad you were not seriously injured. Sign me up for the daily update as well.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterPop and Ice

    Add me to the list! Life's too crazy for my own party, I'd love to live vicariously through yours.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterkathleen

    Those seem to be some of the principles of Pose (recently took a workshop that I sorta understood)...foot placement and using gravity (plus other stuff)....I am the long run...will be make me a better runner (and might...MIGHT...make me enjoy running one day, versus fight to survive it).

    I enjoy (and thrive) through pain on almost every other do I translate that into running O wise one?

    May 31, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

    I like the idea of falling forward both in running and sobriety as I'm working on both too. Count me in on the updates, I'm always up for a party.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterBut Why Mommy

    @Natalie. I don't know where your fitness level is but, honestly, running SUCKS until you achieve a fitness and endurance level that can handle an hour or so. Then it's just euphoric and awesome. How do you get there? Little goals. Run for 20 minutes. Period. After a couple weeks, run 30. And so on. Your body will adjust and start craving it and you'll feel like a puma.

    The secret? Feel like a puma.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBHJ

    I want to join the fun, please.

    schmutzie at gmail dot com

    May 31, 2011 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie

    Me, too, please. ame dot dame at gmail dot com

    May 31, 2011 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAmy

    O wise one....yes, you are's just about doing it long enough to get to that point. I think I fall short of getting to that point each time I try to run...for the sake of enjoying running. I get to that point ALOT quicker when swimming...and have spent countless summers logging HOURS at the pool because it is my happy place.

    thank you

    May 31, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

    I was listening to an interview on the radio this morning. The host was speaking with a man who is blind and has learned use echo location. "So you don't need your cane?" asked the host. "Oh certainly, I need my white cane," replied the guest. Echo location does not factor in the clutter at foot level. The cane takes care of things like steps and cliff edges. He spoke about creating a composite picture of his environment in his mind. He spoke about hiking and riding a bike. The host asked about anxiety. The man replied that what he learned early on was that anxiety just got in the way of where he wanted to go.

    Falling sober is a gorgeous metaphor. I imagine the living of it is a lot less lyrical, but if you will forgive the lengthy comment, that interview leapt to mind as I read your last paragraph. Blind faith, hard work, gravity, trusting in poetry and physics and the things we cannot see. Well... just, keep going BHJ. It is beautiful.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterearnestgirl

    Do you run barefoot or with barefoot shoes? They can really help retrain your feet fast. I'm not a runner, but I have pronated ankles and I got a pair of Vibrams a few weeks ago and within days I was striked more to the middle and outer side of my feet when walking and feeling ankle and knee pain stop.

    Plus, add me to the list, please: momcast at gmail dot com

    May 31, 2011 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeanne

    I'm using racing flats but not yet ready to join the barefoot movement.

    May 31, 2011 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBHJ

    Sounds like Pose to me. Sorry you fell. I run trails so I hate falling -- always hurts. Every time I try to change my natural running style, something painful happens, especially the older I get. Probably a good idea to minimize heel strike, though. And, keep leaning forward. That's good, too. Splash.

    May 31, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterChrisy

    I tried POSE, and that's when I realized that i needed to change every single thing about my form, so then I just quit running and started swimming, which seemed a lot easier. :)

    Add me to your list, please!

    May 31, 2011 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJocelyn

    Have you read "Born to Run?"

    May 31, 2011 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth


    May 31, 2011 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBHJ

    please add me to the list or the party LOL whichever, I need to be there!

    May 31, 2011 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterCarla

    Sign me up please :)

    May 31, 2011 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

    Didn't know if I wanted them when they first started. Haven't seen anything about it yet. But maybe it's not a bad thing. Couldn't hurt for sure.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJess

    This is my favorite post of yours - and that is saying a LOT, because you routinely leave me speechless with wonder and awe at the way you write.

    And "ontological sandpaper"?

    Yes. Oh, yes.

    June 1, 2011 at 5:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterEllie @ One Crafty Mother

    any post that has the phrase 'ontological sandpaper' is worth my time. (well, you know. within reason).

    this was a hell of a way to start my day - in every kind of good way. thanks.

    June 1, 2011 at 5:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterKirsten

    and, uh, I'd dig on the one-line updates: ktlcnilsen [at] gmail [dot] com

    June 1, 2011 at 6:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterKirsten

    I think this is beautiful... and I doubt your reasons for sobriety are boring. I'm curious to read Rob Lowe's book about his journey of 21 years sober. What is the meaning of your blog name?

    June 1, 2011 at 6:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterCountry Wife

    Water flows around the rock.

    Sign me up, dude.

    June 1, 2011 at 6:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTwoBusy

    Me too, please.

    tinsenpup at gmail dot com

    June 1, 2011 at 7:07 AM | Unregistered Commentertinsenpup

    I run in vibrams but not very far at a time. Glad to hear Jimmy is helping you, if he really is named "Jimmy." Do you tell him jimmy jokes?

    Know who's never going to run or get high or drunk again? Ever? Vincent.
    You thought I'd forgotten.

    June 1, 2011 at 7:23 AM | Unregistered Commentermuskrat

    I love a good (sober) party!

    Please and thank you!

    June 1, 2011 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJodi

    I'd like to join the sober party please. I need a sober party. Thanks, lynnieg at yahoo dot com.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterlofly

    You are seriously funny. I found you on ABDPBT and managed to burn my quinoa while reading and then reading some more. I know...I got skills. I'm tired of all the mommy blogs-been there, done that. Looking forward to checking in again. BTW... stay sober for your kids. They're worth it.

    June 1, 2011 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPenny

    I'm glad you've found faith in your legs; realizing that sometimes you stumble or even fall when you run but you continue to run anyway.

    undomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

    June 1, 2011 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMegan, Undomestic Diva

    Count me in, if you please. I am a fan of all parties.

    June 2, 2011 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterLulu

    I want in.

    June 2, 2011 at 5:44 AM | Unregistered Commenter

    Sign me up. But no porn links, please. :-)

    June 2, 2011 at 7:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterMicaela

    Sweet lord do I need a little arty in my life!
    tuesdayef at aol dot com

    June 2, 2011 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered Commentertuesday

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