Saturday, May 14, 2011

Running philosophy

It's been a couple of months since I did a long run. With being sick, being bitten by a dog, and then sick again my longs runs had been cut down to an hour or less. Today was my first 90-minute run since all my ailments finally cleared out.

It was tough.

When I know that a run is going to be difficult, I detach my brain from my legs -- an ability most long-distance runners possess. I put my movements on auto-pilot and let my mind wander apart from my physical reality.

Today while my legs were pounding the dirt/pavement/rocks, my mind drifted to one of my favorite topics to ponder -- the human condition. I'm not sure why I enjoy contemplating what it means to be human. Maybe I am trying to connect myself to the world at large. Maybe I am looking for where I fit into the sea of humanity. No, I don't think that's it. I think that I just like finding the similarities with all people everywhere.

My thread of thought started with my blog post from yesterday about picking up the giant toad and what my mom and aunt wrote on my facebook link in response. They both said that they wouldn't have had the nerve to pick up the toad. I almost chickened out, and I certainly didn't like the way the toad felt, but I did it anyway. I got to wondering then what it is that makes some people more daring than others. How did I have the nerve to grab that gross-looking amphibian? Heart racing, adrenaline pumping -- I did it despite the red-flag that Caution had raised in my consciousness.

Are daring people really wired differently? Or do we just know how to ignore the little voice of Caution who feverishly waves a question mark in the moments leading up to the daring feat? Maybe, but that split-second-decision, "To do, or not to do," requires an immediate answer -- no hesitation -- either "Yes," or "No." Perhaps the synapses of the Daring don't fire or fire faster or misfire, or do we just default to "Yes"? Everyone is capable of the action. Anyone could pick up that toad. Anyone can jump out of a plane. But not everyone will.

Regardless, I think that everyone is ultimately made of the same stuff. Humanity is humanity. The make-up of each person is essentially the same. We all have frailties. We all have strengths. We all have emotions. We all have the same basic needs. Every person is as capable as anyone else of doing anything. Heroics, acts of daring, acts of kindness or selflessness, horrific acts -- every person is capable of committing the same crime or saving the day. Being human makes it so.

So why, then are people's actions so different?

Maybe it's the culmination of the experience of living out our humanity in individual contexts and with individual perspectives. What I have been through in my life causes me to act in a certain way, making certain decisions based on my previous experiences. But you have not been where I have been. You have not seen what I have seen. You have not felt what I have felt. And vice versa. Which makes us very different creatures.

So we're the same. But we're different.

That's what I thought about on my run today.

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