Sunday, May 1, 2016
There was no place to respond to a recent New Yorker article by Kathryn Schulz "What we think about when we run." So I respond here.
I love to run. I realize that even more now that I cannot run for at least another month due to a healing broken ankle. Running is both meditating and thinking for me (if those are actually different), but much different than the article indicated. Yes, I do think about pace and pain. But not so much. Though the feel of my body warming in the sun, getting wet in drizzle, refreshing in the breeze is always in the background.
I am a philosopher by profession. Not because I'm paid to be one; but because I profess to be one. So many of the thoughts that pass through my body while running deal with the latest concept I am trying to work out spurred by some book I am reading, some event I witnessed, or some conversation I engaged in. I often deal with the BIG questions: who am I and why, do I/we have a meaning and what is it, what is thinking anyways, what can we know and how, do we have a future, how does our behavior relate to our knowing, i.e.. our science and our politics, what do I believe and how do I deal with my coming death, what is faith and transcendence, and on and on. These are questions whose answers I am always revising.
Thinking is mind talk; and running helps me sort out and confront the talk that is destructive. It puts me on a positive hopeful course, one that has faith in meaning. I plot as I plod. Thus, running is cognitive, as well as corporate, therapy. That's why treadmills and elliptical machines just don't do it for me. I need the world with changing scenery.
Bernie respects and tolerates my routine of coming back from a run and, after stretching, grabbing my notebook to jot ideas and draw models on pages of reflections. For though I know that I was thinking all through my run, I do not know what I was thinking until I write. And I want to know so that I continue to think. The essays I put on this blog or keep in my notebook are trials (as the word "essay" signifies), daily exercises of a mindful body.
Thinking like running is both a solitary and communal exercise. I much rather run alone. And even when I run with others, I run alone. Yet I do have others in mind. And so I wind up putting what I have written out there for others without any expectations.
Both thinking and running have a destination--one that I might attain provisionally, but never finally. I don't plan to run another marathon much less an ultra-marathon. I don't have to because I am always getting there, though in smaller increments as I age. I usually don't think about running, I run to think. And I love it.