Allow me to try to capture the magnificence of running at the UN compound. Every day, my life is as follows: wake up in my little room, walk across the compound to use the latrines and sinks, walk to the other side of the compound to eat the breakfast prepared by the cooks, get in a car to drive me the 200 metres to the office, work in the office all day with a guard standing outside at the compound gate, find a car mid-day that can drive me the 200 metres to eat lunch in the compound, back to office, back to home and leftovers from lunch, enjoy a bit of TV or Internet, work from home. Sleep and repeat.
BUT... every other day, right before sunset, we pile into a car and drive the fifteen minutes to the UN compound. We may wade through soft yellow sand which sticks to our bodies, and we may tiptoe around the sewage of UN soldiers, but we run. We move and feel the wind on our face. We can see for miles in every direction around the compound - the hills to one side, the pristine setting of an enormous ball of fire to the other.
Sometimes, it's just me and one colleague. We don't take our iPods; instead, she slows down her run to pace with me as I try to keep up. We talk and chat about life, both work and not-work, and we watch the sunset together. It's lovely getting to know a lovely person.
Other times, we have company. Two days ago we were three. I took advantage of being a trio to break out on my own for a while, listening to my music and running in solitude. Today, there were six of us. The moment we hit the sand, I was on my own. It's ironic how the larger the group, the more alone I become.
As I was running today, enjoying the company of one, I thought about how I was avoiding my companions. This was one of those rare social settings in which it was ok, and so I did it. Losing myself into the crowd, I felt it's wrong to pull into my shell, but I also felt like the sun and the wind and the sand and the adrenaline and the solitude are healing my soul, one step at a time.