The Lion's Cage
I had a restless night. This morning I stood impatiently by the tea maker only to realize that I’d forgotten to add the water. It was while I waited, yearning for the rumbling that meant the water was starting to boil that I realized the back of my thigh was tight. A quick stretch didn’t help.
It was cold outside and my favorite running socks were missing. I was down to one functioning flasher and it was still very dark. It would be hard for cars to see me, crossing streets would be dangerous.
All good reasons not to go for a morning run.
Yesterday, I saw a teenager with worsening depression. She’d been on medicine for a while and initially seemed better. And then she wasn’t.
I took a big breath and opened the door. Her eyes, wary and tear-rimmed, followed me as I walked into the room. She said nothing. Her mom spoke instead. I heard what she said but I also read her eyes. They said what I’d already recognized, “SAVE HER! She’s in a cage with a lion!”
The mom didn’t even realize that the lion had taken a swipe at her too. I could see the rivulet of blood streaming down her sleeve as she described to me what had been happening. Parents often get injured when they try to stand between their children and this beast.
She was so desperate to get her daughter out of the cage that she didn’t recognize the bars were enclosing her also. As long as her daughter was in the cage…she was just as trapped.
The lion was pacing from one side of the room to the another. It’s was a slow, lazy saunter with an occasional insolent turn of the head. I kept my eyes on it—I don’t trust it.
But I think the teenager does. I think there are times when she curls up in a fetal position and this animal encircles her body with his. I think she weeps into his soft fur and I bet she falls asleep with the sound of his rumbling purrs. I’m worried that she believes the beast is comforting her, that he understands her sadness. She’s wrong. He loves no one.
I hold a whip and I’m pretty good at displaying a lot of bravado but this is a lion. He’s unpredictable and ferocious. And he’s killed before. I don’t want to be there. This scares me and makes me feel inadequate. I’m constantly afraid I won’t react fast enough or move the right direction…that he will pounce and I will have failed her.
The only thing more frightening… is doing nothing. Letting them face the beast alone. So I do the best I can.
I don’t run for exercise—that’s just a bonus in my book. I run when I’m tired and hurting and cold so I can prove to myself that I can do it. To make myself believe that I’m strong, resilient and determined.
I ran this morning because I have to.
I never know when I’m going to be stepping into a lion’s cage.
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