2009: The Year of the Treadmill Ends on a Trail

I’ve been a runner for decades. I love moving through parks, whisking past parents pushing strollers, older people appreciating the fresh air, and dogs fetching sticks thrown a distance away. I love seeing the purple blossoms on the trees in the spring, the full-fledged flowers that morph into full green leaves that turn red then yellow then brown as the autumn passes into winter. I tolerate the onset of cold weather since my body warms after a mile or so of jogging, but when the parks’ paths turn icy, I feel forced to trade my beloved outdoor environment for a treadmill.

I really don’t like treadmills. My brain feels as dead as a hamster in a cage equipped with a wheel. The scenery around is static, other than the invisible circling molecules that my thoughts are not interested in processing. Attached TV screens help whittle away the time, but they subvert my imagination and make me feel like the passive receptacle of an avalanche of information. My contemplation pattern as my feet negotiate the machine is fairly consistent: How much time has passed? Only 60 seconds since I last checked? When will the distance be traversed so I can move on?

2009 was the Year of the Treadmill. The week that ended with December 31, 2008 was the beginning of a landslide of phone calls from marketing directors of client corporations telling us their budgets had been slashed and the paths we had planned to navigate together to make their ideas blossom into beautiful video concepts had been iced over, impassable. They would be hunkering down and looking forward to a time when the economic crisis would defrost and they could hit the ground running again.

Gotta keep moving, I thought. Try something new, like social media networks. Create a blog. Tweet away. Get pages on LinkedIn and Facebook. Answer questions; ask others. Join e-groups. Get bombarded with email from all these sources. Lose the mind in details akin to many of the TV programming options presented as the minutes of workout time are counted down.

Of course, in their silent way, those molecules beyond our field of vision are constantly moving. Ultimately they stir change. Eventually the ice thaws. We began to sense a shift in September. Our company cautiously crawled out of hibernation, testing the roads, afraid of slipping on winter’s remnants, yet eager to become active participants in that carousel of color outside our windows that it is our job to capture then project.

In the midst of this global ice age, my husband – who is also my business partner — and I sold our house and downsized. We rented an apartment reminiscent of the place I lived when I was a junior in college. Right around the time when we felt the first inklings that the economic storm had begun to melt, we were greeted not only by a few clients in the office, but also by some unexpected visitors at home: three raccoons who had made their way through a crawl space right over the ceiling of our bedroom. Their activity grew more pronounced as the outside temperatures fell, and one night last week they seemed to have a fiesta that will make our New Year’s Eve party tonight seem overly tame. A few phone calls later, the landlady arranged to have humane traps placed.

Last night as we got ready to crawl into bed we heard two of the raccoons inside the traps, impossibly trying to claw their way out. The desperate sounds a few literal inches away from our pillows were disturbing, so we blew up the airbed in the living room and crashed on top of it, falling asleep in front of our only TV, which was busy churning out the programs of the day. It was a fitting end to the Year of the Treadmill.

Today the raccoons will be released in a forest, forging new trails in the outdoors as, unbeknownst to them, 2009 gives way to 2010. My husband and I may have an additional night in the living room since there is still at least one more masked family member to trap and relocate. But we will start the first night of 2010 back in our bedroom where we will doze off with our eyes fixed in books. Their mixture of themes and words tied together by human imagination provides one source of inspiration on which we draw when we create artistic, comprehensive and personalized corporate videos. Whether the target audiences of our clients watch the products on the screens in their boardrooms, on their treadmills or in their living rooms, our resolution as we optimistically open the door into the new year is to produce videos that motivate viewers to sculpt figurative running paths replete with colorful peripheral flowers and a panoply of people pushing strollers, inhaling fresh air, and playing games with their pets.

2 Responses to “2009: The Year of the Treadmill Ends on a Trail”

  1. Caroline Purdon Says:

    Hi Ellen,
    I am a fellow runner (currently skidding around on hardpack ice). I loved your blog which struck cords on many levels…
    All the best,

    • ellenfriedland Says:

      Thx for your comment Caroline! I hope your 2010 is filled with many lovely trails!
      I had read your intro on the Women to Women LinkedIn group this morning and had opened your website; my husband and I travel a lot for work (corporate and documentary video production) — in fact, there is a possibility we will be in the Manchester UK area in the next month or so.
      We have two offices — one is in NJ and the other is a small home office in LA — so when I read your brief blurb about being in snowy Bath after moving from LA, I smiled, relating to your feelings! The only good thing about business falling off a cliff last year was that we spent January thru April in beautiful southern California, where I could run along the Pacific Ocean in a t-shirt. I miss that so much now — can’t believe we continue to support space out there when it’s 20 degrees here — but calls for work generally based in the metro NY area are coming in and that is a huge relief! Hope it continues!
      I’ll sign up on your site.

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