Blocked Up a Bit

I had been on a good run of posts -- a couple years I really hit my goal of writing weekly, but for the last month I have just not really been feeling it in terms of the old blogaroo.

I think there's a lot of good content on the blog, so I hope you will keep browsing through, maybe re-read a piece or two. I make no future promises about the blog for now: I hope to return posting more frequently.

Here's a quick one for the road.

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"In the writings of a hermit one always hears something of the echo of desolate regions, something of the whispered tones and furtive look of solitude; in his strongest words, even in his cry, there still vibrates a new and dangerous kind of silence -- of burying something in silence. When a man has been sitting alone with his soul in confidential discord and discourse, year in and year out, day and night; when in his cave -- it may be a labyrinth or gold mine -- he has become a cave bear or a treasure digger or a treasure guard or dragon; then even his concepts eventually acquire a twilight color, an odor just as much of depth as of must, something incommunicable and recalcitrant that blows at every passerby like a chill."  --F. Nietzsche

All runners have something of a hermit in them. Our moods and thoughts while we are out on the run take on the exact twilight color that Nietzsche talks about. You will notice this most on the days that others wouldn't run, as they head wherever it is they are headed, they buzz around with plans and goals and directions that the runner, if he looks inside, finds pretty much absent.

The rhythm of the footfalls, the exposure to the weather, all that concrete, all that asphalt, the eyes turned so often out to the horizon, the countless early mornings, that old friend the dull and persistent pain, the circling and circling around, the endless quiet, the ever-open road -- all of this affects us. Why wouldn't it? Eventually it works its way up through the soles of the feet into and through the stringy calves and lean hamstrings, rising up through the heaving chest and settling into that large and unsettled runner's heart.

You'd think it would make us hard and stoic, and it does in some ways. What happens most with us, though, is not a matter of hardness or toughness or any of the things that folks typically think of runners, as they see them from the outside. The effect of all that running is to whittle the soul down to a sensitive core. Unlike the rest of the world which seems to literally sparkle with the bright flame of ambition, the runner's world is a deep orange and glowing ember. Having chiseled so much away in those miles, having spent so much time with ourselves, we feel our own presence so much more deeply than the rest. Ours is a slow burn.

All that time spent with ourselves gives us too much trust in our own law, our own life, and perhaps too little trust in others. Like all things too well known, our own soul becomes hard to communicate to the others. We become detached, the hard law of our athletic life gives us an angle on the good life that makes us unable to fully participate in the Good Life that the rest seem so eager to pursue.  So we become the sort of people that have been glorified too much in American Literature, too little in American Life. We become like Kerouac, "surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving [is], and how good it [feels]. The world ... suddenly rich with possibility.”

Morning or afternoon vagabonds, whatever our pleasure, instead of racing headlong with the rest of the insane towards all the bullshit, we make a simple choice to head away from it. And we head out running, with hearts that are fuller and heads clearer for it. We are the people born to move, to move and never to bustle, to move and never to arrive.

Once out the door we find ourselves surprised by just how easy it was to leave. Surprised to find a home out there on the concrete and in the blustering wind and on legs that don't tire, where you might least expect a home to be.


  1. Gold as usual. The photo is spectacular. Photoshop?

  2. Nice Jeff. I find the best runs are those where I am headed away from the bullshit of the everyday bustle.

  3. Beautiful! Maybe this is why we enjoy getting out in bad weather, too--the solitude, the setting apart from what "normal" people do.

  4. "legs that don't tire"

    I've read about those. Where do I get some? I'm thinking that they're somewhere beyond twenty miles, but I've never been there.

  5. New perspective I've never looked into before -- how the mileage exposes the soul as a "a sensitive core" rather than harden it.
    Juicy. Party on, Wayne.

  6. Jeff, that was a damn good post to rest up on. I'll come back and browse from time to time, while you're burning slow (as I am).


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