Running and Thinking

People sometimes ask what I think about when I run for hours on end. I usually just shrug, smile, make a deflecting joke. The thing I love about long distance running is that it takes the manifold of problems that is life and brutally reduces it to a Cartesian two vector, time and distance. One possesses an array of tactics but a single strategy: let nothing else intrude. That which adds any additional dimensionality to that two vector is why we all develop our own array of tactics, most of which are so hermetic and wordless that trying to talk about them is ridiculous. What do I think about when I think about running? Nothing, I avoid thinking. I abnegate thought, physicality, self-hood. It’s wonderful to not think, to bathe in negative capability and to later re-inflate the world dimension by dimension, choosing what one will re-introduce to it and what will be left behind. I begin with a head and heart full of worry and problems. I end with a two vector, blunt, mute, and inarguable.

This reductive force could be anything, of course. It could be Street Fighter, it could be a golf swing, it could be playing the foreign currency derivatives market. Those things, like all human endevours, possess this potential which is what makes them pleasurable. In a world of mess and complexity anything which allows reduction is a welcome respite. What I find about running though is that there is nothing more already reduced by its nature. If we take gravity as a fact, which the overwhelming majority of us should, and terra firma of some sort, all the conditions are already met. One needs nothing else. Personhood and the most rudimentary of anthro-scape. Voila, now begin.

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