The air is slightly cooler here. Though this place borders the busy two way street of Carlin Springs Road, nothing can be heard besides the occasional tranquil chirps of a few song birds. Looking towards the forest ahead, I decide to break the silence. As my airpods blast “Eight” by IU, my feet begin a familiar rhythmic pulse on the paved asphalt trail of Glencarlyn park.

Sometimes I wonder, why do I run?

As a modern human being with the conveniences of technology, running seems like such an antique and pointless use of my energy. Within this paradox lies perhaps the exact answer to my question– so that I can stop running.

In other words, I run so that I can be fit enough as to not have to run anymore. In a similar fashion, people tend to hold a mentality in which they treat everything in life as a means to an end: work hard now so as to not work harder in the future; save money now so as to not be broke later, so on and so forth.

But in a society in which our gaze is only set upon the finish line, we tend to lose sight of the process. Most people will agree that running can serve as a means to being healthy. It can reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, and even improve one's mental health among other things. But unlike running, being healthy means more than reaching just a finish line. Being healthy is not “achievable” in the sense that it is not a task to be completed for the mere purpose of making life easier. Rather, being healthy is effectively achieved through an endless continual process. In order to be healthy, we must first understand its continuous and infinite nature. Unlike a jog with a set start and finish line, being healthy resembles more of an endless chase. Just because one decides to be healthy doesn’t mean their life will change its course according to plan. Its endless quality is derived from human nature in that life will always be an uphill battle.

There will always be obstacles and hindrances to our happiness. It is, however, our choice as to whether or not we halt the chase. This means that we have the power to decide whether or not we are healthy. Through this belief, I can make the argument that even people who battle ailments such as cancer or depression can be considered “healthy."

If being healthy is a process, then their relentless fight and grit in their continual chase already makes them healthy individuals. In this sense, being healthy is not a status of physical wellness, but a relentless mental drive. To some, this can be disheartening. To think that being healthy is a function of one’s own drive can be a frightening thought.

To me, however, the idea is liberating. Our health is in our own hands, and though this thought may create a realization of responsibility, it also gives a newfound sense of control over our lives.