People are always inclined to feel that something in their lives is missing. We may have an instinct to look for holes and poke at them with great scrutiny. But if we look upon things with some perspective, so long as we have basic necessities, and people in our lives who care about us, there is little that we could say is genuinely lacking. We only have images and idealizations of life which prevent us from seeing this simple reality.
When I talk to my aunt I get this outlook of sheer simplicity and boundless hope, like, here’s a woman who is utterly content and lives with bliss with what she has. She seems to have arrived at this sense of calm that few have by her age. I greatly admire her for it and wish others had this quality. When you meet someone who has this quality, you sense it immediately. They never waste their time on trivialities. They live every moment as it comes, and they don’t have a need to be forceful with their opinions. All of their actions are subtly in sync with the universe. Their outlook smooths the rough edges of life.
“Create the poetry of your life with toughness and determination.” -Deng Ming-Dao
There is an unmistakable comparison between life and running that I can’t help but notice when I run.
As I set out for my run I feel a mixture of optimism and exuberance. Clearly at this stage I am naive, as there is no daunting sense of the long run ahead of me. Neither is there in early life. We know in youth that life is long, but we don’t yet fear its trajectory.
The first stage is the warm-up, and it is difficult. My steps are not as deliberate. I am moving forward, but not as confidently. The body systems have to adapt to the notion of running. I have to develop my stride. I would equate this to adolescence, complete with the gangly flailing about that sometimes ensues.
Following this stage is young adulthood, or that stage when the body is operating at its peak and a more natural stride has developed, but as the course unravels before us, the mind begins to wander and tests our will to continue, turn around, or stop. My mind tells me that I can complete the course I’ve begun, but I cannot be certain how I’ll feel some miles down the road. Can I do this? The decision to persist becomes self-defining.
Inevitably, my exuberance wanes as my muscles wisen up to what they are really in for! Energy stores dwindle as we age and as we run. Mental stamina becomes far more important than physical stamina. We wonder how we have the strength to carry on, but we carry on nonetheless. Our running gait and our surroundings are by now very familiar to us. Our focus moves away from ourselves and onto our destination.
In the final stretch, I am overcome by a sense of liberation and forget all earlier obstacles. I don’t long to be back in that first leg of the run. I just want to be here, now. I stop and take deep breaths. I feel victory, serenity, and accomplishment.