“How far’d you go? A couple miles?”

The fisherman I’d just waved to asked me this from a distance as I was finishing up my run. He and his buddy had been standing at the side of the dock since before I parked my car, stretched, and set out on a new trail. It was set to be day three of my #30daysofnewthings challenge. A new trail may sound kinda nottabigdeal, but I realized Monday that – since I’ve begun running in the past year – I’ve done the same park every day, even though sometimes I’ll find new routes within it. I could do those but… Not today, I thought. I’ll try something totally new.

And I don’t know why I never tried this new park’s woods before.

Actually, that’s just me in denial about the simple fact that fear has kept me from staking out new territory to traverse. Dumb, right? Especially when I dig deeper and try to dredge up the details of why: fear of what? It’s always apprehension about all those unknown factors (Where will I park? What if I get lost? What if there are more what if’s I haven’t thought to worry about yet?) Because these things are so ridiculously stupid, my brain makes up other excuses not to go instead: It’s too far away (ten minutes). It probably costs money (free). I bet its trails aren’t long enough (four miles). Actually, that – four miles each way – is a salient aspect to the quality of my overall venture. Because my run, though it started out so-so, improved as I interacted with the fitness trail (and strangers like the fisherman) along the way. And, upon my return, when that fisherman asked me how far I went, I legit couldn’t give him an answer.

“I dunno!” I said,

“I guess I like to be in the moment with it – like with fishing!” I gestured toward his line.

“Yeah!” he smiled, nodding.

As I got back to my car and observed an hour had passed, I realized how much I must have enjoyed it.

I’d gone eight miles without it even feeling like four.

In retrospect, the fisherman must have felt the same way about what he was doing, too. Because we’d waved at one another at the outset of my run as well as the return. And I’m sure he knows two miles isn’t very far – so it must have felt like he hadn’t been there very long either to think only fifteen to twenty minutes’d passed by the time I came back (that or I was moving at glacier-on-qualudes speed, which I haven’t ruled out either). Which means that in that moment, we both could’ve been right for all either of us knew. It was like an abstract Shrodinger experiment performed with presence instead of poison. Where were we in time? Did we even have to think like that right now? Are we on Solaris?

Yeah – in a way – ’cause similarly, with this whole challenge, time isn’t just slowing down.

It’s expanding in a way that’s kinda independent of temporal parameters. I mean, you could say the quality of it’s just getting better (that old years of life versus life in your years thing), but that feels reductive. It’s more like… ya know how in those Hollywood crime scenes, the mentalist detective ruminates over the dead body and reads the room silently for a moment before heading straight to the wall, crouching down, and kicking out a board to reveal a secret passageway? It’s more like that – one brain passageway serving as the bridge to endless other Narnia-esque passageways – each link leading to exponentially more possibility than the last.

Bridges building upon bridges.

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

And I kinda like that.