I have always hated running. To start with, I am slow. I have always been slow. So running was never about winning. Running was often about embarrassment, just trying hard not to finish dead last.
Then, there was football practice, where running was punishment. I always gravitated toward baseball, where running frankly was not all that important. At school, I was required to run as part of the dreaded "weights and agilities" intramural athletic program that solidified my distaste for running.
I ran a little bit in high school because I decided I needed to, but then I broke my arm and had surgery and got thoroughly out of the habit. I ran a little bit during college when I started feeling really out of shape, but I always hated it and always found excuses to quit pretty quickly.
The only time that running was ever minutely successful for me was the ten months I was engaged. I ran a lot that year with an upcoming wedding on my mind.
Since then, I have worked out off and on, using elliptical machines, stationary bikes, swimming, basketball, and racquetball. Every once in a while, I would take up jogging on a track for a while. But I hated every minute of it.
This spring, my weight was up, I was out of shape, and my knees were hurting. Gena wanted me to see a doctor about my knees, but I knew better. I knew that the pain was just nature's way of telling me that it was time to get back in shape. So, I went on my diet. I lost 25 pounds. And I started exercising again. First, walking two miles a day, then slowly adding running to the mix until I was running about a mile and a half at lunch time every day. And lo and behold, my knee pain went away.
Until it came back. About a month ago, the pain behind my right kneecap came back with a vengeance, and I could not run twenty yards without feeling as though my knee were giving way. I finally took Gena's advice and went to the doctor; several visits, some x-rays, and one MRI later, I have my diagnosis - the beginning stages of arthritis.
And my doctor said these words: "I forbid you from running or jogging again for the rest of your life."
Suddenly, jogging has become the most enticing thing imaginable. I sit on the stationary bike and look outside and envy those lucky ones who get to have the great pleasure of running.
Why is that? What is it about human nature that makes what we cannot have the most desirable thing we can picture, no matter how little we actually care for it?
It is, of course, a story as old as any. The phrase "forbidden fruit" comes from the story of Eve. And it is illustrative to us of the basic concept that much of what we think we want is really nothing more than rebellion, or our innate desire to change what is into what it should not be.
I will try to get over my newfound lust for the jogging that is not allowed to me. And when I have other strange longings, I will try to take a moment to figure out just why they have come to me.