Everything looks strangely different in reverse.
For most people, when they think about "how they look," the image in their head is the one they see in the mirror. Everyone else, however, sees you in reverse, which is why you get convinced that every picture taken of you looks funny when no one else seems to agree. When you're absolutely used to something, any change, even a simple reversal, can be staggering.
I remember being at a bar one night with my back to the television. Fortunately, I was seated across from a framed picture with a wonderfully reflective glass surface on which I could watch the Cubs slowly give up yet another postseason. I was shocked, however, when the first batter got a hit, and then ran to third base! Of course, this was just the mirror working its magic, but the whole experience was oddly unsettling. I mean, I knew the Cubs were bad that year, but that's just wrong.
Taking a different point of view can be a shock, but it can also be revealing. Artists very often take a step back from their work and find unexpected depth. Sports networks are constantly trying to find new and exciting angles to show every intricacy of the game (though they still haven't figured out how to put a steady camera on the goal line). For me, the new angle I needed today, was simply to head in the other direction.
Most of my running routes are loops, giving me the option of direction, so that I have that much more variety in the run. Each direction has its own benefits and challenges. Sometimes it dictates when the hills will arrive (as in my 8 mile course). Sometimes, it's about the direction from which I approach parking lots, since most people turning right refuse to watch for pedestrians. This morning, I just wanted to try something different.
I've run this slightly-more-than-5K route a couple times, always going in the clockwise direction, so I decided to switch it around for today. I was absolutely shocked at how different the experience was.
Have those cows always been there? I mean, I've already discovered one cow pasture and one goat pasture on this three-mile loop around my house. It really makes you feel like a Texan to see cows three blocks from home. But not only have I never seen these cows before, I never smelled them before, and judging from the moment of recognition I had this morning, I'm not sure how I could have missed them.
Where are all the dogs? There's a little area I called Canine Alley on a street parallel to our own. In a 3/4 mile stretch, I must have passed (no exaggeration) 25 dogs, all rather high-strung. Of course, living near all those high-strung dogs is probably what made them all so high strung. It's a vicious cycle. This morning, I didn't hear a single one. It might have helped that I hadn't brought my own dog along, but maybe they just sleep in on Sundays.
Are those chickens? Yes. Yes they were.
How did I miss the ice cream truck? And I don't just mean how did I never see it parked outside of the guy's house. I mean, how did I make it through the hottest summer in Texas history without seeing an ice cream truck anywhere in this city, but upon moving into this house in November, I hear it every day about 2:00pm. It's January, you think, that can't possibly be right. But there he was. Loading up the ice. In January.
And finally, that's it? This may have been more an effect of relative mileage than of reversed direction, but it was still a nice treat. I suddenly found myself turning toward home with plenty of energy to spare. Energy that then went into cleaning my backyard. I was actually motivated to clean my yard.
To say the run was strange would be to diminish the unique quality that every run has, but it was certainly one of the more unique runs in my recent memory. It made me take notice, and was just quirky enough to be worth remembering.
Like watching baseball in a mirror.