They say your desk is important. I don’t know if that’s true, but mine is important to me. It sits in a small room in an unimportant corner. The corner is part of a small house in a small town near the beach. If you’re lucky, you can hear the surf crashing on empty mornings when the wind hasn’t woken up yet.
The desk is small too, but I built it myself. It’s two pieces of smooth walnut held together by metal leg pieces turned at an acute angle. I don’t know why everyone likes their strong, square corners. Square is boring. And this fits better in a corner of the room, which is where a desk should go anyway.
My corner has windows, with curtains hung by my wife, and it looks out onto the small yard and the canal beyond. Every once in awhile a boat goes by, usually on it’s way down to the pond for crabs. Blue heron use the canal as a highway back and forth from their nests in the tall pine trees to their hunting grounds in the ponds and marshes. They hunt crabs too. More elegantly than the boats.
Every day I’m able, I come down to my desk early in the morning with a cup of tea. I can feel the rest of the world still waking up. Birds are the earliest commuters, already busy with their work day and their songs. Most children are still sleeping, mine included, entering the last phase of night when their bodies start pretending to play again before their minds catch up. Most parents are asleep too. But the runners are awake already. Real runners, the ones that have to run to feel alive, get out and pound the pavement early. They can’t help it, running is what they do, and it’s the most important thing they do each day.
In a sense, that’s why I’m up too. I’m running. I come down here to my little desk in my little room in front of some windows and I sit, breathless. I start pounding out the miles, hoping for a few words and a decent rhythm of keystrokes. I’m not fast yet, not even close. I ache a lot and I get side cramps when I go too hard. I need to stretch a lot to limber up and prepare for my runs. But I keep putting in the mileage. Because there’s no other way to get better.