…just to be on the run.
“I also contemplate marathons and dream about running until there’s nothing left to run from or to or for.”
I have been thinking a lot of late about this quote from a fellow friend/blogger/person who runs. It has little, to nothing, to do with asking “why I run” or any of that business. I think rather, that it comes up in those moments when running where the numbers and most all else falls away. It comes up when I get that feeling that I just want to keep running. There is nothing about the pace or the distance, or really the direction for that matter. It does often come up as a question of sorts I suppose; more so perhaps as a desire… to be able to just keep running. I start seeing maps in my head of routes, possibilities for where to continue on, where to keep moving forward.
I have written in that other blogthing (where you can go to read part 1 of this should you so desire) over there about training and goals and stats and races and whatnot. That is all just for fun, just a way to track progress and keep myself both running and writing. But again, of late these other thoughts, less concrete, more amorphous, have been meandering about.
It has been a long time since I have written anything here, but the last time I started to write something it was based on another quote, this time from Douglas Adams… “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!” I have it written on a post-it note in my office. Something about it strikes me as both incredibly funny and hand-wringingly frustrating and perhaps even a bit tragic. I like it but I simply have not been able to put my finger on why I like it. Certainly it is clever, but somehow it seems like there is more to it than that. I just don’t know, and the catch is neither do I know why I want to know.
I have written here before about how much of my personal ethos (and perhaps I am not using that word correctly here but it seemed right somehow) stems from my experience with and reaction to movies… as opposed to some of the more conventional places. That is of course oversimplified, but at the time I was trying to make a sort of point. I think at the moment the point is, again, something I have tried to express here before, that we are in many ways a sum of our experiences. And again, I have no idea where I am going with this just now…
“…nothing left to run from or to or for.”
This is neither “rigidly defined” nor full “of doubt and uncertainty” yet I keep getting the nagging feeling that there is a connection in my reactions to these two quotes. On the one hand I could see a certain emptiness or futility in both statements, but on the other, just the opposite; something freeing and liberating. Yet it is neither the catch-22 nor the yin-yang idea. They are neither intertwined, nor mutually exclusive utterings. I am not even sure that they are similar, but there is something that makes me want to tie them together somehow.
I am writing this post in conjunction with a post for my other blogthing; two parts of one experience that are only sort of loosely connected. The idea came to me through the song lyric used for the titles of both. The song itself is rather sad; about loss and heartbreak and because of that I waffled with using it. I went with it anyway because the words worked well, if not the sentiment. With the first of the two quotes I am wrangling with here both the words and the sentiment work for my current state of mind and reaction to experiences, and coincidentally relate to the words (but not at all the sentiment) of the song title. There is no sadness or loss in that feeling of wanting to just keep running. The second quote, actually relates more to the other blog, full of numbers and measurements and accomplishments as it is. It is “rigidly defined” in that it is all about running, yet it is also about “doubt and uncertainty”, although perhaps only to me. What I mean by this is that in my experience, every run is an uncertain thing. Most times I set out with a direction in mind but of late, when I hit that spot I mentioned above where everything falls away I am guided by my footfalls, seemingly pulled along by the activity of moving forward. I sign up for races but not to win, I have no goal going into them because I am only testing myself every single time and at that essentially to see how I performed after the fact.
This idea of competing against one’s self actually does sort of fit well into a “rigidly defined area of doubt and uncertainty” the more I think about it. I do not track my time while I am running, but rather once I am done. I am competing against myself only in watching the statistics. My primary desire in this activity of late is tied up in that first quote; I just want to keep running. The numbers and measurements are in many ways meaningless since I am not trying to beat anyone or win anything. They are just benchmarks, but what mean benchmarks when all I really want is the ability to just keep moving forward. I do not ask, “How much faster can I go?” nor “How much farther can I run?”, but rather “How much longer can I keep moving forward?”
And this, as it turns out, is really a fine question for life in general it would seem… when slightly adjusted. It is a goal in and of itself to strive for, “What must I do to keep moving forward?” This will of course be different for each individual. For some it means progress I suppose, some sort of advancement. For me it speaks more to the idea of avoiding stagnation, of living more experiences. Not to collect them or to count them up like trophies, but to simply live them. To embrace the doubt and uncertainty. To keep running, rigidly defined or otherwise.