I write with hands clasped in gratitude and in prayer.
I returned from an all too brief trip to the Adirondacks. There are an equal number of philosophical questions remaining as there were prior to my departure. This quote from Charles Bukowski is cause for my continued reflection. Charles said, “The freeway always reminds you of what most people are. It´s a competitive society. They want you to lose so they can win.” This concept of competitiveness is one which I no longer comprehend. I barely comprehended this concept when I was younger and am unsure that I ever did. Perhaps it is age and the accompanying maturity. Competitiveness is a concept with which I struggle, especially as I grow older. In the four days which I spent in the Adirondacks, I spoke to no more than four people. Two of those “conversations” were to place an order for food so I am unsure if they qualify for the definition of “conversation”.
I arrived on the Rock River trail and breathed a sigh of relief that there were no cars at the trailhead. This meant, at least for the time being that this would be a solitary trail run. As I approached the sign in, a smile formed on my lips as I noticed there were no other signatures indicating hikers or trail runners remaining on the trail. After signing in at the trailhead, I began my trail run on a soft, leaf covered trail. The sound of the leaves crunching beneath my feet and the trees bare of leaves, reminded me of Fall. This trail, I am guessing is a seldom used trail. I worked my way over a few rolling hills before descending to a low-land area with Rock Lake on my right.
I was able to see the lake through the trees which, at this time of year remain naked. The buds on the accompanying branches not yet exposing their secret. Another hundred yards down the trail and I heard the sound of water cascading over large rocks. This would be Rock Creek. I stood in the middle of the footbridge spanning the creek, the sound of the creek louder than I had expected considering the width of the creek was no more than ten feet. I was reminded that everything, especially to me is louder than what would be expected in the Adirondacks. I was also reminded of this fact as I perused the headstones in a cemetery at the entrance to the park. A break in traffic passing the cemetery left me in total silence save for what appeared to be a buzzing in my ears. Perhaps the buzzing was me adjusting from the constant bombardment of noise to the profoundness of the Adirondack silence.
John Burroughs in “The Art of Seeing Things” said, “If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature; and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature. Nature we have always with us, an inexhaustible storehouse of that which moves the heart, appeals to the mind, and fires the imagination,—health to the body, a stimulus to the intellect, and joy to the soul. To the scientist Nature is a storehouse of facts, laws, processes; to the artist she is a storehouse of pictures; to the poet she is a storehouse of images, fancies, a source of inspiration; to the moralist she is a storehouse of precepts and parables; to all she may be a source of knowledge and joy.”
As I made my way back on this 3-mile out and back trail, I decided to branch off onto another trail. This trail was no longer marked by the “hiking” blazes but by red “snowmobile” blazes. This trail was wider and marked by more frequent changes in elevation. It also extended this run from 6 miles to 14.5 miles with an elevation gain of over 1000′.
In his book, “The Art of Seeing Things”, John Burroughs shared the following thought, “So far as seeing things is an art, it is the art of keeping your eyes and ears open. The art of nature is all in the direction of concealment. The birds, the animals, all the wild creatures, for the most part try to elude your observation. The art of the bird is to hide her nest; the art of the game you are in quest of is to make itself invisible. The flower seeks to attract the bee and the moth by its color and perfume, because they are of service to it; but I presume it would hide from the excursionists and the picnickers if it could, because they extirpate it. Power of attention and a mind sensitive to outward objects, in these lies the secret of seeing things. Can you bring all your faculties to the front, like a house with many faces at the doors and windows; or do you live retired within yourself, shut up in your own meditations? The thinker puts all the powers of his mind in reflection: the observer puts all the powers of his mind in perception; every faculty is directed outward; the whole mind sees through the eye and hears through the ear. He has an objective turn of mind as opposed to a subjective. A person with the latter turn of mind sees little. If you are occupied with your own thoughts, you may go through a museum of curiosities and observe nothing.”
Little could have been more beautiful this day. Sunlight began to drift through the bare limbs of the many trees. Silence, other than my breathing and footfalls was my musical accompaniment. Grtatitude for my breath. Gratitude for my eyes and my ability to take in such beautiful sights. Gratitude for my ears both to hear the sounds around me as well as to hear the silence in which I find so much solitude.
May you be able to experience such beauty in your life.
With palms together,
I wish you all a Good Morning.
I woke with my alarm…4:00 AM. I briefly debated with myself, not about running but about getting up to run. I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with my early morning runs. One one hand the cards are few and the ability to be left utterly alone with my thoughts are great. The downside, it’s 4:00 AM.
There are nights when I collapse into bed, exhausted from the day’s efforts. I push myself to the limits throughout the day, so much so my physical health has been negatively affected and I have questioned whether or not I need to look for other employment. I think about my private practice and if I am going to put this much time and energy into one activity, it should at least benefit me more directly. There are those days when my satisfaction cannot be measured as it is off the charts with happiness and satisfaction. There are also those days when I question why I am working so hard. It is these times when the run seems uphill and endless.
I enjoy pushing myself to the limits and enjoy the days when a feeling of tired envelopes me like a warm blanket and refuses to let go. Recently I found myself in a downward spiral, a feeling of sadness which I could not shake. When these times arise I find myself feeling sorry for myself. I focus only on the negative and when I attempt to pull myself out of this downward spiral, I find that society at large also focuses on the negative and the spiral deepens making my attempt to pull myself out more difficult. It is times such as these that I begin to resent myself and my profession. The catch-22 is when I find myself in this dark place, emotional exhaustion takes hold and reigns supreme. My running, I allow me the opportunity to revisit these dark places and confront the fears which they contain.
I recently began a new job, one which felt exciting at the time until I realized the interviews with which I was enraptured were to hold more pitfalls, more disappointment than they would excitement. I find myself not wanting to rise early and to participate in the one activity which has helped me cope and helped me to come out of this dark place. Rising at 4:00 AM only reminds me of the start of the day which brings daily disappointment closer to reality. The emotional energy which is drained resurfaces from time to time throughout the day offering a glimmer of hope which is usually broken down within hours.
I have been working on a project and it has been difficult to make the time necessary to continue to move forward. My days have been tedious and filled with activities related to my work which have caused the loss of my love for my career. As a social worker, I help others manage the stressful life events which when not managed well can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
My time rising and running at 4AM has often been a lifeline of sorts for me. Contrary to popular belief I often have more energy throughout the day than when I do not rise to run. Those same runs also help me to manage the inevitable stress which arises at some points within minutes of my arrival at the office. My runs have become a popular coping mechanism
Many of the barriers which I face throughout the day are self-imposed. I enjoy this concept and the eye rolling as many readers refuse to accept that not everything with which we are confronted is the cause of someone or something else. The self-imposed barriers are a result of our perceptions that our life is not going in the direction which we would like. It is beliefs such as these which lead to self-destructive behaviors and attitudes. When I allow myself to become fixated within the narrow boundaries of these thoughts and beliefs, my struggle with depression becomes increasingly difficult to manage. It can be difficult to remain focused as we navigate through our lives. My strength has been to approach these times with patience, persistence and perseverance which offers a gentle reminder that everything will be alright.
A Beautiful Moment
With palms together,
I wish you all a Good Evening.
I left the office at 6 PM. I completed a staff meeting 60-minutes early and let my staff retire for the day. The week was a difficult one; busy but productive.
I sit alone in my backyard, laptop on my lap, three fingers of Bulleit consumed, journal written and a cigar burning in my hand as I type. My only company are the cicadas and crickets as they compete for the coming darkness and the solitude which is provided. A cool breeze which has all but erased the humidity from the air providing a comfortable evening in which to sit in stillness and in silence. The time is 8:04 PM. Darkness is descending quickly as we approach the second week of September. My son and I have tickets to the Notre Dame game the weekend of September 26. I look forward to spending this time with him.
I am thankful for the 7-mile run this morning. A run which started my day. It is my running, my early morning runs which remain one of the keys to balance in my life.
I love rising in the stillness of the early morning. I run with no one else around with the exception of the few passing cars of those souls who begin their workday. I ran across the bridge which spans the Erie Canal and sweep the light of my head torch to the left. The light is reflected back to me in the eyes of several deer; resting peacefully before the light of day reveals their sacred position.
This run this morning, while anticipated was one which I thought several times of abandoning. The thoughts of abandoning are quickly pushed to the side as I remain motivated to complete this run. My legs struggle to find a comfortable cadence, the humidity striking me and reminding me this run will not be an easy one. Thoughts of my favorite runner, Rob Krar also come into play; his silent encouragement helps to keep me going.
I complete this run with mixed emotions. I sit on my porch and cool off, sweat dripping in this humid environment. My only company are the crickets which break the silence. A glance to the East and my eyes meet the brightening sky. The color remains pale but also provides hope the sun will shine.
Happiness in my life is ensured because it is what I make of it. A helpful quote by @iamthecitymonk…”What you focus on expands. Look at the beauty and virtues of others all the time instead of their flaws.” I extrapolated the content of this quote to everything in my life. Daily, I look for the beauty in everything and everyone around me. Most of the time it is found and when it is, I am allowed to see the beauty within. See your beauty every day.