I greet you with hands clasped in prayer and gratitude.
I was asked this question the other day, “Why do I run?” I am unsure why I chose to write about this topic today as I am asked this question with some frequency. The question is “Why do I run?”
I jotted down some thoughts…It is just after 4:00 am. I was dreaming about a trail run which I had recently completed in the Adirondacks. As I rose and dressed for my run, thoughts, as they often do at this time of day crept in and challenged my belief to stay in bed and get more sleep. I think of a photo of Rob Krar on my wall, his bouts with depression and my need for solitude which helps to contribute to the balanced start of my day.
I know within the first few steps of my morning run that I have what it takes to beat my demons.
I run to be awake. I run as a reminder of what I am capable of achieving. I run for my father who can no longer walk. I run because it is an opportunity to be alone with my thoughts and reexamine my passion for the process of change, both in my life and in the life of my clients.I run because it allows me to challenge myself and to give me some modicum of control over the life stressors which I encounter over which I have little or no control.
I run to be a better person, a better father, grandfather and husband. I run because I have the ability to see the world, my world through a different set of eyes, a set of eyes through which I can see the morning sunrise as the rays of light leak through the branches of the nearby trees. I run to stop running; to feel the stillness and the quiet as I sit on my front porch after a run while everyone else remains safely tucked in their beds. I run to enjoy the solitude and quiet which I seem to only be able to achieve after a vigorous run.
I run to think about the people I have in my life, those who I love and those who I can do without. I think about the latter and I say a mantra for them in the hope they may find the same peace I have been able to find. I run for them. I run to release the stress in my life. I run because it reminds me of the importance of humility in my life. I run to remember and to forget. I run because of the order which I find during this time of solitude. I run to feel and experience the emotions which we all feel and too often deny because we are afraid. I run because it’s free and because it allows me to feel free.
It is with hands clasped together in gratitude which I greet this morning. I woke for my run and hearing rain continue to pelt the roof decide to return to bed. The thought of an early morning run escaping as I fade back to sleep. Before I return to sleep, I have this thought, these thoughts about the importance of running early in the morning which I need to capture. as with other ideas, I remind myself if they remain when I wake, they are worth putting pen to paper.
It used to be I ran when I could make the time. Usually, this was after work. I still run when I have time only now it is early in the morning.
I run early in the morning for a number of reasons…the air is cleaner and carries little noise other than my own breathing and footsteps. I enjoy the solitude and anonymity which is part of the ubiquitousness of the dark. I also enjoy the gratitude which allows me to start each morning being thankful with each breath. This may sound cliche but having a father who’s legs were taken from him by Polio and who for the last decade has been unable to walk let alone bear his own weight, I am very thankful for the ability to rise early, draw a breath and leave the comfort of a warm, comfortable bed and go for a run.
Even more important is knowing I have accomplished more in 90-minutes of running than most will accomplish in their day. Sometimes I lose the argument although this is rare. This morning, despite temperatures in the Buffalo area which have remained unseasonably high, I rose with my alarm and decided, without argument to retreat to the comfort provided by my bed. Other than being greeted by my alarm, I was also greeted by rain which appeared to have not ceased since I went to bed the night before. I enjoy running in the rain, but there is a difference between a cold rain in December and the warm rains of spring and summer.
Sunday morning runs have a special feeling all their own. I used to complete a long run on Saturday and didn’t enjoy the feeling of running and competing with cars and their drivers. You would think people would sleep in on Saturday…not so much as Sunday. My Sunday morning runs straddle the competing worlds of dark and light. Part way through a 15-mile run there is enough light that my headlamp is no longer a necessity. I am now exposed for all the world to see. As darkness gives way to light it becomes easy to see I am still relatively alone in the world. The solitude which I have discovered and made my own remains my own save for the occasional passing car or the even less frequent runner. If the weather permits, I am greeted by an amazing sunrise. I say amazing because this is the Northeast and amazing sunrises are not as numerous and I am afraid taken from granted as they may be in Florida. They are scarce and thus much more important to me. They also remind me of my grandmother and time spent with her in life and in death as I was with her when she passed at this magical time of day. There is something special about catching those first rays of sunshine and basking in their glory while others remain fast asleep.
This straddling of the dark and lighted worlds gives me the same amount of joy as does running in the darkness. It allows me to return home with the thought of a hot cup of coffee on my back porch while I enjoy the solitude which remains and which I know will escape and be lost as the hands of the clock inform me the time continues to progress despite me desire that it remains still if even for a few minutes.
Today I went “sauntering.” Henry David does a much better job of explaining the definition of this fine word than I so I will allow him the effort. “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of walking, that is, of taking walks – who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” A Saunterer, A Holdy Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are in deed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which therefore, in the good sense, will mean having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.” – Henry David Thoreau
As I watched the Sunday morning news, I found myself glancing toward the window several times to assess the weather. Each assessment rendered the same result; a cloudy, overcast sky. The news, now concluded offered me brief respite from the reality of the goings on in the world. I put down the Sunday Times and retrieved my camera from it’s hiding place in my camera bag in the basement. My camera has not seen the light of day in several months due in part to the excellent camera on my phone also an opportunity to work with Groupon left me feeling emotionally exhausted and with no desire to pick up the camera, let alone to make photographs.
I inserted a memory card, cleared the card of any photographs left over from a previous shoot and retrieved my hat, mittens and a cigar. I entered my car, clipped the end of the cigar and toasted the end before lighting the cigar and inhaling the fragrance of this fine smoke.
I made the brief drive to the location where I wanted to shoot, parked my car and grabbed my gear. After turning on the camera, I set it to monochrome desiring to make every photograph in black and white. The overcast skies lent themselves to the simple beauty of monochrome as it allows the highlights and tones to stand out and speaks volumes regarding the mood of the lighting. It felt like a black and white day.
Because of the time of year, I had the entire area to myself save for the one or two people also out sauntering. I made my way around Gateway Park to an area adorned by several benches. I brushed the water left over from a cold night from the surface of the bench, sat my camera bag down and pulled my journal from its hiding place in the back pocket of my camera bag. From the front pocket I retrieved one of my favorite fountain pens inked with the deepest of black inks to match the black and white mood in which I find myself.
I wrote with abandon, the thoughts pouring from my brain faster than they could be captured by the nib of the fountain pen. as I stopped allowing the ink on the page to dry, I lined my head back and allowed the emerging sun to shower me in its warmth.
Today was a good day.
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.