The worms were everywhere on my run this morning. Last night’s rain brought them out of the ground onto the roads and sidewalks.
It doesn’t bother me to step on a worm, but I don’t do it on purpose. That meant attention was paid to placing my feet in spots where there weren’t worms crawling across the asphalt or sidewalks during a four-mile run. After half a mile, the avoidance of worms became second nature. I became Zen at avoiding worms.
Then there was the issue of my running jacket sleeves. For some reason I do not like it when the sleeves creep onto the back of my hands. I roll them back to avoid the feeling. It might seem a bit obsessive-compulsive to let something like that bother me, but I accept it and make adjustments as the run goes along. Quite the opposite of Zen.
I actually love running in the rain because there’s so much interesting stuff going on. The spatter of new raindrops on puddles. The flow of water down the street gutters. The swelling creeks overflowing their banks. The rest of life’s problems seem to drain away.
Rain Man in training
When I was a child living next to a private golf club south of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I used rainstorms as an opportunity to play a round. I’d gather up three golf clubs; a three-wood, seven-iron and putter, and play the set of holes out of sight from the clubhouse. We weren’t members of the club, but the course was accessible right out of my neighbor’s back yard. So I’d take a couple golf balls gathered on my trips back and forth to my best friend’s house, and play golf for free whenever it rained.
I loved the feel of the short grass under my bare feet. I’d wear shorts and a light rain jacket and bring a couple tees to hit the first shot each hole. Then I’d run after the ball. I was a decent little golfer and would even score a par now and then despite the wet grass slowing the ball down. Sometimes the rain would open up in a driving storm, but as long as I heard no thunder or saw no lightning, it was fair game in my mind to play most of the course.
Sometimes I’d just stop and listen to the rain pounding the fairways. At times there would be springs popping up along the way. That clear water pouring out of the ground fascinated me. It seemed part of a secret world.
One afternoon I was hanging out at my best friends house on the 17th fairway when a massive rainstorm passed through. It rained for an hour solid. When it was over, we peeked out the back window to find a massive rush of water bubbling straight out of the ground. We ran out to investigate once the storm was over. And in kind with our liberated spirits at age of eleven or twelve years old, we stripped naked and turned the fairway into a giant Slip and Slide. His sisters came out to watch us but I could not have cared less. It was fair play actually, because I’d seen one of them naked through her bedroom window one night when my friend and I were out catching fireflies.
Rain is the most natural substance in all the universe. Water is the sustaining source of essentially all life on earth. I am proud and happy to be a Rain Man of sorts when it takes over the immediate world. But I never feel the need to count all the worms.