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I looked out into the vast rolling distance. Hills stretched on as far as I could see. It was an ocean of sand and sagebrush that was hard to take in. It looked like it did not end. It looked like my heart finally had more space than it yearned for. All the pain, all the joys, all the tears, all the laughter- every loss and every victory- perhaps here they could finally breathe. Perhaps here they could finally exist without strangling me.

The hot hot sun was setting as I contemplated the expanse of desert before me. I was unaware of how many colors the desert could hold. As it sank behind the hills the sky caught fire. It was pink and orange and red and purple and… colors I did not have words for. I had just climbed a thousand feet. I had only been able to run probably sixty percent of the hills to climb up to this dry lake bed. My muscles were burning as I watched the sun go down behind the hills. I tried to take it all in as I heaved and squatted down to rest.

I could smell the earth as I surveyed the desert. I was new here. The scents were foreign. The sounds made me jump. I didn’t know what was safe and what was dangerous. It was dry. It was hot. I didn’t feel like I had enough water. I was pretty sure my skin was burning. I did not have a headlamp. As the light faded I felt I became more a part of the landscape. I became smaller. I began to both see less and feel more. Darkness settled over me. I stood up and continued to run.

I heard my feet fall in the growing darkness. As I ran into the night I was surprised at how much easier the miles became. I ran further and further away from my new home. I wasn’t even sure how many miles I went. I wasn’t completely sure I could find my way back. My heart felt a little more free every mile. Just a little lighter.

As I ran through the desert I had my introduction to the beauty of its space. I am thankful for the smell and sound of it. I am grateful for the bigness of it. As I ran I felt a sort of freedom within. I am grateful for all the heat and sand and extremes. I am grateful for being able to move through it. Thank you.

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