After three-and-a-half weeks on the DL with a horrible sinus infection (bad enough that they had to put me on Cipro -- yes, that Cipro -- in order to knock it out), I finally started running again this week. [And I finally finished a number of tasks lingering from the Spring semester…I've been really out of it for most of May.] It's amazing how quickly one loses lung capacity and endurance when not regularly working out -- I ran route 2 this morning, which is a longer course than my route 1, and where I can normally run the whole thing in about an hour with one stretch-break in the middle, today I had to add in a walking break and also cut the end of the course short in order to get home in a reasonable length of time (other things besides running to do today, after all).

So today I was slower and weaker. Fun. It was good to get back to morning runs, but a little disheartening to experience that kind of decline.

While running today I once again ran into Cowboy X. That's my name for him, after the famous cartoon sketch that used to run on Sesame Street quite a bit; I don;t know his name for himself, since all we ever do is to exchange waves and the occasional "hey" or "good morning." Cowboy X is this extremely tall, muscled guy who is constantly in motion around the neighborhood, during warm or moderately warm weather wearing nothing but sneakers, a pair of shorts, and a cowboy hat; in the winter I see him in sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and still the cowboy hat. This is obviously a guy who Works Out in the serious sense, although I only ever see him walking briskly -- never running, never even jogging. Anyway, very fit gentleman, always in motion, and our schedules seem to overlap quite often so I see him sometime during my morning run.

I bring up Cowboy X because I always have the same three-part reaction when I see him: 1) wow, he's in shape, wish I were that in shape; 2) wonder how often he has to work out to get and keep himself in that kind of shape; 3) wonder if it would be worth it to spend that kind of time and effort, and in particular wonder whether it would be worth it for me to spend that kind of time and effort. And I go through those same three thoughts basically every time I run into him.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that there simply isn't enough time to do everything. Trivial insight, but it's a cliche for a reason -- because it captures something of a widely-shared experience. Cowboy X reminds me of a path not taken, a counterfactual course where i am more of an athlete but, perhaps, less of an academic [and I have no idea what Cowboy X's day job is -- for all I know he's a Secret Service clone trooper agent who spends his time protecting the Emperor and other Imperial officials, but then again, maybe he's a professor of literature someplace]. And encountering him always, always makes me ponder once again whether the course that I am running is the course that I want to be running.

Of course, about five minutes later I'm rather tired, and my thoughts generally turn to my breathing, my legs, the music or podcasts I'm listening to, or something else. Still, a little morning reflexive introspection is a healthy thing -- thanks, Cowboy X.

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