Monday, November 13, 2006

Rainy Day People

Yesterday I fully intended to run 25 kilometers. But such is the road to Hell...

After 20 K in the rain, the last five of it torrential and cold and driven by an icy wind and with water running in frost-laden rivulets down the back of my neck and ice-water squishing up between my toes, and dripping off the brim of my hat I had had enough. Nothing was to be gained by sticking it out for another half an hour or more. Only more suffering.

So our group of hard-core, never-say-die, run in any weather stalwarts headed for the barn, a change of clothes and a hot breakfast. Having worn shorts and with bright red legs, I spiked my coffee with a little Bailey's Irish Cream. To fun off the germs, you see.

All morning I was humming a tune I couldn't quite place, just hum-hum-hum and the words, 'Rainy Day Lovers' repeated in my head like a mantra...

Finally I realized I was channeling a Gordon Lightfoot song, Rainy Day People. It seemed appropriate under the conditions.

Rainy day people always seem to know when its time to call
Rainy day people don't talk, they just listen till they've heard it all
Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell ya they've been down like you
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two
If you get lonely, all you really need is that rainy day love
Rainy day people all know there's no sorrow they cant rise above
Rainy day lovers don't love any others, that would not be kind
Rainy day people all know how it hangs on a piece of mind

Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell you, they've been down there too
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two.

Rainy day people always seem to know when you're feeling blue
High stepping strutters who land in the gutters sometimes need one too
Take it or leave it, or try to believe it
If you've been down too long

Rainy day lovers don't hide love inside they just pass it on
Rainy day lovers don't hide love inside they just pass it on

Let's hear it for rainy day love...

After my run I headed to the hospital to visit my father.

I can't quite place my finger on the exact reasons why, but going to the hospital is becoming increasingly difficult for me. It is not that I don't want to see my father. Rather it is the horrible feeling and palpable sense of dread engendered in my gut by entering the edifice that is St. Paul's. My nose begins to curl up at the smell when I am within a hundred yards of the place. The hairs actually begin to rise on the back of my neck as I approach. All of the doorways and the courtyards and the nooks and crannies that can shelter people from the rain on the outside of the hospital will be filled with patients and staff who will be smoking.

There is something profoundly disturbing about seeing someone in a hospital gown and bathrobe, attached to an intravenous stand with wheels, tubes running to the needle in their arms, shivering in the rain as they suck on a cigarette drawing smoke into their lungs as deep as their strength will still allow. Old habits die hard. Some of these patients are painfully thin, grey and wraith-like as the hang onto the IV stand for support like a great chrome cane. They cough and hack and spit up phelegm and it makes my skin crawl.

Once inside it feels like your nostrils are assailed by too many smells you just don't want to know the origin of... The place is filled with unhappy people, patients and family members, who would of course rather be somewhere else. They wear looks of confusion and pain and the same sense of dread that I am carrying with me.

I haven't always felt this way about hospitals. I have been admitted to an Emergency Room more than a few times in my life, received treatment, gone under a surgeon's scalpel and received a collective of many months of physical therapy, both painful and otherwise, in such surroundings. This time around I have no sense of being in a centre for 'healing'. It feels like a particularly unpleasant office building. Too many rain clouds these past few weeks, I wonder?

And the people I see are mostly old. Not aged or elderly, but old. Life has been hard on these people that I see. Or maybe it is the first time I see this. Or that I see it through different eyes. It is hard not for me to imagine that I am going to be one of these people myself one day not too far down the road. And this is the feeling that I have come to dread. Once again the odd dichotomy of confronting emotionally what until recently has only been strangely and unnaturally intellectual. Knowing and feeling are two vastly different experiences.

Almost makes me want to go running in the run...


Anonymous Rob said...

Keep writing Vince.

It is probably the best way for you to cope with your Dad's hospital stay.

And if its any consolation I happen to think that you are banging them out of the park with your posts.

6:24:00 PM  
Blogger runliarun said...

Most lives are miserable and most people have a hard time all the time. It's amazing that life can be beautiful nevertheless. I, for
for myelf, always hoped that I'll die... not young, but before I get old. That might change when I get older, but I don't want it to change.

8:07:00 AM  
Blogger Vince Hemingson said...

I am not sure I believe most lives are miserable.

I do agree that life is hard.

Life is a challenge.

I do believe that many people have not fully embraced all that life has to offer.

In this little jaunt we call life the path is not always easy, the road we take not always smooth. The journey has it's ups and down.

But some of the most difficult trails I have climbed in my life have led to the most stunning vistas. I have scaled a ridge after many hours of hiking and had my breath taken away by the sight of what lay before my eyes, the world curving away until the final peaks disappear over the horizon, lost in an azure haze.

Some of the marathons I have run have been excruciatingly hard. As was some of the training that led up to the race.

But I think I have found that almost every hard step led in the end to a profound sense of self-discovery and accomplishment.

The things I cherish the most in life are the things that were the most difficult to attain. And the most difficult to hold on to.

The things that cause the greatest ache in my heart are those people and things that I allowed to slip from my grasp because I know deep in the very core of my being that I did not give every ounce of effort that I was capable of giving. Those are the things that sear your soul.

It is one thing to do the best you can, and fail. It is another thing entirely to fail yourself.

In the hospital, it is hard for me to escape the sense that many people have given up fighting the good fight, or that they are at the the brink of throwing in the towel.

9:20:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I hate that hospital smell too.

2:02:00 PM  

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