When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.

I have a rather tattered copy of a small red book that was given to me by a brief acquaintance many years ago. I do not even remember exactly who that acquaintance was. Alas. Anyways, I have never fully read that book cover to cover, but I have chipped away at it over the years and a fair bit of it has stuck with me. It is not really that it is hard to read, necessarily. More that, despite the book’s somewhat diminutive size (in appearance anyway), there is a lot packed into it and, like those bits that have stuck with me, seemingly little things deserve much contemplation.

There is a discussion – I guess one might call it – in this book where the author suggests that much of the time, people talk a whole lot without really saying anything, and that all this really amounts to is a cluttering up of space; a pointless cacophony. His argument goes something along the lines of rather than saying “Boy it sure is raining hard today! Would you just look at all that rain coming down, Whooowee!”… or something like that, one could simply observe and acknowledge the environment, perhaps with a slight nod. No reason to jabber on about it. I of course am not doing the original argument any justice here…

The book is called The Sun My Heart and was written by Thich Nhat Hanh, and it is certainly worth a read. It opens with a story about apple juice and how it can be a metaphor for meditation. It goes on to point out the value of mindfulness and being absolutely within your immediate surroundings. Wash every dish as if you are holding the baby Buddha.

What are you waiting for?

The recent import of this question is not something that I can really describe here. I simply do not know how to fully process the situation that surrounds the reason for it, nor the specific moment that surrounded the utterance of it despite the fact that I was there and fully in that moment, and fully understood the asking of those words. But if I use it instead as a filter with which to look back on the past year – since it is the time of year for doing such things – it turns out to be rather interesting. But again, too much to write, too much to say, and too many thoughts that do not need to be blathered on about. And yet, if I were to explode the past month into all the component parts, I would have a pile of posts to write… never mind the past year. There has been so much going on lately that I simply cannot quite comment on it all. I would end up just blathering on sounding like I was marveling at the rain.

On the other hand, with the folding up of another wall calendar we can look forward to a whole new year. New life to be had, new choices to be made, new paths to tread, new questions to ask, new challenges to face, new fears to confront, new uncertainty. New adventure. So it is time to move forward, rather than be bogged down in the minutiae of it all. No time for talking, observe and acknowledge.

So, what are you waiting for?

Pizza mind

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. I have been mulling over a new post for several days now but was not quite sure where to go with the scattered ideas that I had. Then this morning, while “listening” to NPR in my pre-work, partially caffeinated stupor, I swear I heard a woman say something about “pizza mind”. Amusing but slightly baffling at the same time. Certainly she meant to say peace of mind (and she probably did, but that is just not quite as fun). So then the Wife posted something on the facebook about the Dalai Lama wherein he states, unequivocally, that “The key to relaxation is peace of mind.”

The key to relaxation is pizza mind. I will let you run with that for a moment…

Now, I am certainly a fan of pizza… of all makes and models. Well, within reason. There are some things out there that are called pizza, but I want no part of them. Conversely there are other things that both look and act like pizza in many ways, but are called by other monikers (“flatbread” as an example). There are many types of pizza certainly and as such I do not feel there is such a thing as a “right” kind of pizza. Perhaps it is more of a continuum, a spectrum of pizzaness. Yeah, I like pizza but before now I never really considered it in relation to tranquility or enlightenment… pizza mind.

Pizza is a conglomerate… a coalescence of ingredients. As such, there can be no one, true pizza. But there can likely be a perfect pizza, and as with many such things it is quite possible that no two perfect pizzas are ever the same. What would seem right and true and perfect for one may make little to no sense to another. I for one have no interest in putting pineapple on pizza, and until relatively recently thought chicken was out of place. Once upon a time I would have thought that breaded eggplant on pizza was utter nonsense, but now I know that it is a beautiful thing. You see it is not about the pizza, but the pizza mind. When all of the right elements come together at the right time and place it can be perfect. Yet perfection, like pizza, can be fleeting. Thus pizza mind – like tranquility – must be cultivated; encouraged.

But this is all beside the point as I meant to talk about running. I have no idea how these things have much to do with each other, but something tells me they do. If I figure it out I will let you know.

Running, with puppy.

This time last year I wrote about this jogging/walking circuit I was doing with the dogface in cold weather. It involved overdressing and slogging uphill through unpacked snow to stay warm. If you have not and care to, you can read that here. It only briefly mentions running… sort of. It was more about cold weather in general.

So yesterday was my first, true sub-zero run. That is, it was the first time I have put on “proper” running gear[1] and ventured out in sub-zero temperatures to actually run with the sole intention of running (ugh, sorry about that). Now this should not be confused with the overdressed shuffling about that I was doing this time last year. No, this year I have begun taking running more seriously for some reason. I tried doing some running last year during the summer but it did not really stick. I took it up again this past summer and then sometime in autumn something clicked.

I used to hate running, and believe I have mentioned that fact at some point in the past, but now I genuinely love it. I miss it when I skip a day. I strive to run every day (or did until a couple weeks ago… I could offer excuses but never mind… blerch), but honestly this will be my first foray into winter running and it takes some time to adjust. There is a bit about gear to consider (only some of my skiing stuff will translate), but it is also about the season itself. Winter is cold and dark and at times dreary and foreboding… for me; but on the other hand that is all the more reason to force convince myself to keep running.

So ultimately, running is a relatively new thing for me. Something about it suddenly made sense to me. I am outside, I am being active, I need to be alert and aware, but can also let my thoughts wander. Aside from the above mentioned “proper” shoes and appropriate attire, it requires no implements (as opposed to say biking or skiing). When running, one moves somewhat swiftly but not necessarily hastily (I am no sprinter). It is a simple, seemingly pure activity… whatever that means. Anyways, I like it.

Yesterday I ran with the new puppy. She likes it too. It is different though, this running, with puppy. Different that is than running solo. Different enough that I had to consider why it was not enjoyable in the same way as running sans puppy. Essentially the same activity, but not at all the same. It is the pizza mind. One has to approach the latter differently than the former. Both are enjoyable for similar reasons, but the ingredients are different and thus the experience is different. When running solo there is little to consider other than myself, my environment, and my own thoughts. With puppy (or with any other individual really) there are other elements to consider, space and pace perhaps the two most important. I suspect however, that the more we run together the more we will find the right path and things will fall together better. She is, after all, still just a puppy.

In sub-zero temperatures even puppy needs proper shoes.

In sub-zero temperatures even puppy needs proper shoes.

[1] That is, genuine running shoes and clothing that was either designed for, or functions well as, running attire; lightweight, breathable, not too restricting, and “scalable” to weather. For a great bit of insight on this read my friend’s blog, here and here.