I recently joined a running group to give a much needed boost to a sluggish exercise program. I’m not really a runner; I jog/trot my way to my desired destination. The group meets at a running store on 102nd and Western and they run through Beverly. This was something I manage twice a week because it was on the way home from work. I could get some things, meet for a run and head home. Perfect.
The first day out I cheated myself and ended up walking. In my rush to leave that morning I forgot to pack a required essential—my sports bra. I knew I couldn’t run without my attention-seeking companions acting out and trying to get some attention. They needed to be tied down, and I had left the harness at home. So, I resigned myself to walking. But it was a wonderful walking experience.
Although I ride through the Beverly/Morgan park neighborhood and admire the scenery, it was not something I had done on foot. The perfectly manicured, rich deep-green lawns surrounding the home create a sense of serenity. As I walked and enjoyed the view, I could feel the stress that had been nipping at me fall away. I passed a boutique and peeked in the window, and then ducked in the jerk chicken restaurant to grab a menu. It was a wonderful prelude to what I hoped would be a peaceful evening.
On Saturday, I decided that I wanted to run outside again, but I didn’t want to drive to Beverly. Since there’s a park near my house that I have used as part of my exercise regiment in the past without incident, I decided to go to the park. The area around Palmer Park is definitely not as scenic as Beverly, but I could be outside and be one with nature—or so I thought.
The early morning peace was pierced by the sounds of sirens speeding west on 111th St. unfortunately, living in an area plagued by violence, the sounds of sirens are commonplace. I started my run and noticed CTA workers in the park along with a bus. “That’s odd, I thought.” As I rounded the corner I saw the news crews. I saw people gathered. I saw a building across the street with the windows broken out, and the yellow tape stretched across the fence in front. I slowed, but I didn’t stop.
The next time around, I became a voyeur and whipped out my phone. Snap, snap. I took pictures to document the difficulty of even something as simple as a run in certain neighborhoods. Two days earlier being one with nature melted the tension of a long day, but on Saturday, the songs on my from iPod were fighting with my stream of consciousness thinking of-what-had-happened-and-whose-life-was-forever-altered-by-the-early-morning events.
I couldn’t help but wonder how could anyone find peace in the midst of unrest?