By Wade Rouse
Despite our spontaneous, live-in-the-moment, hug-a-stranger, follow-our-passion outlooks, Gary and I are very much control freaks. We are workaholics. We are competitive. We are driven to the point of obsession. We can be aggressive and impatient.
My Type A comes out mostly in work. I want to be the best. I am a perfectionist with my writing. I work long hours. I tour, lecture, write and teach nonstop. I am often on the road for weeks at a time. I will not stop until I’m on top.
Gary’s Type A comes out mostly at home. He is obsessive in creating a beautiful home, gorgeous gardens, and magnificent meals. He is Martha with a pronounced Adam’s apple.
We are also Type A when it comes to staying fit. It took me nearly three decades to get a grip on my health – I lost over a hundred pounds and have kept it off for over 15 years – so staying in shape is vitally important to me. I work hard, I play hard, I exercise hard.
Running is my Zen. After rising early to write, I find that running keeps me in shape, physically and mentally. After a few miles, my body begins to become one with The Beach Coast, my mind begins to unwind. It is on particularly long runs that I work through my writing, be it a passage I’m having difficulty with, a theme for an upcoming book, or final edits. Exhaustion brings on inspiration: While I am running, I am always writing.
My first memoir, America’s Boy, was largely written in my head while training for my first marathon. It was on this long journey – literally and figuratively, as I lost the weight that piled on during my youth, and stopped running from something and toward something – that the book took hold.
When I moved to The Beach Coast, I began to run the shoreline of Lake Michigan. I ran unplugged, with only the sounds of the water, the gulls, the wind through the aspens, my feet in the sand to inspire me.
I ran farther and farther each day, mesmerized by the stunning beauty that surrounded me.
One early summer afternoon, during a particularly long run, I noticed dark clouds quickly rolling in.
I had been so far away in my head I hadn’t even noticed the storm approaching. Then, without warning, it began to rain. Not just rain, really, but the heavens opened and wept. It was a monsoon.
Cue Type A.
I don’t like to be wet. I despise when my hair is wet. I work off the philosophy that no one ever looks good wet, unless it is Michael Phelps.
Moreover, I hate running in wet shoes and wet clothes. You can’t “wick” away rain.
So, I did the only thing I could: I stopped on the edge of Lake Michigan and began screaming at the skies, imploring the clouds to hold their rain until I could make it home.
I truly believed the heavens would listen. I was very good at controlling things. But it continued to pour, and I continued to scream.
I was wet and wild. No, strike that: I was soaked and psychotic.
That’s when I thought of the last time I’d been caught unprepared in a downpour. It was when I worked at an educational institution and was setting up a big, outside event. When it began to rain, I began to scream. A little girl, on her way back from lunch, was using her umbrella as a dance partner, reveling in the rain. She said to me, “It’s just rain, mister.”
Ah, the wisdom of children. I looked out over the lake and landscape: The scene was beautiful, the way the rain danced atop the lake, turned the sand darker, slid down the dunes grass.
So, I took that little girl’s advice: I kicked off my shoes and socks, and jumped into the lake. I let the rain wash away my “A”, and I simply enjoyed this simple moment.
Then I ran back barefoot in the rain, my mind writing up a storm, realizing that sometimes it’s OK to let go of dry and driven and get a little wet and wild.
Wade Rouse is the acclaimed author of four memoirs, including the bestselling “At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream” and his latest, “It's All Relative.” A new anthology about famous humorists’ dogs, “I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship,” was published September 2011, and proceeds will benefit the Humane Society. Wade has been hailed by NBC's Today Show, USA Today, The Washington Post, Detroit Free-Press and Entertainment Weekly as one of America's wisest, wittiest and most wicked writers, and the worthy successor to David Sedaris. For more, please visit www.waderouse.com or www.wadeswriters.com.