Note: This isn’t about running at first glance, but we’ll get there. Eventually.
On the other blog I keep (and the one I’m better about posting on regularly), I recently finished a book that, in part, talked about meditation. One of the concepts covered was impermanence: the idea that nothing lasts and everything changes.
I might be muddling it a bit. I’m not Buddhist. But you get the point.
This was one of those ideas that latched onto the back of my brain and just sat there. Why? Because it was something I implicitly agreed with.
I’ve had this happen before. I loved reading Good to Great and The No Asshole Rule in large part because they were explaining ideas I already believed (who knew people liked to hear things they already agreed with?).
And so it was with the concept of impermanence.
The idea is to live in the now and appreciate it because you know it’s leaving just as soon as it showed up. Where this really comes in for me is trying not to idolize the past.
When I did the Super Awesome Year of Me, there was the Draw Something month. I had a nice little collection of drawings. They weren’t nice drawings, but it was a nice collection. I really appreciated having them, so I gathered up my favorites and mailed them to some friends.
I did this because I didn’t want to bask in the finished work. The point of doing the work was doing the work. The final drawing was just a byproduct of the process. I was drawing for my own benefit. The final picture was never the point.
Pretty sure I called it disposability of ideas. In part I stole it from this comic by The Oatmeal. By recognizing the impermanence of the art (that sounds so freakin’ pretentious) and the way it made me feel, I would be better able to produce something I liked in the future.
The other area this philosophy shows up is that I don’t have heroes. I’d say it’s like never meet your heroes, but kill your heroes (not literally) might be the better explanation.
I don’t like to idolize people. People are just people. There are aspects about people that wow me, but there’s never been a person I just thought of as the ideal human being that I wanted to emulate. I try to recognize that one piece of awesomeness is usually accompanied by something less than awesome.
This can seem a bit pessimistic at first glance, but it was an important part of being an adult for me. I needed to be able to look around the room and be able to assert who I am without giving ground. In my job, I’m the youngest by more than 5 years as best I can tell. I have to be willing and able to get in arguments with people who get AARP mailings. I can’t afford to idolize the people around the table. They might have good ideas, but I also might have good ideas.
This comes back to impermanence.
I don’t idolize anyone, but I try to listen to everyone, even people I actively dislike. It isn’t easy, but I want to make sure I consider every idea as I hear it. If it’s something that pisses me off in the moment, I try to avoid reacting and let myself digest it for a while.
Nothing exists in a constant state. No one is perfect all of the time. And no one is wrong all of the time. I mostly try to deal with people in the moment without carrying baggage with me. In one moment you might be helping me out. The next you might be hurting me. One isn’t necessarily connected to the other.
So where does this all lead? It leads to living in the moment, enjoying it, and understanding the moment’s going to pass.
This is a fitness blog, so I could post about having to avoid past baggage, including the good (the days I could touch a basketball rim despite being under 6 feet tall) and the bad (the various injuries that have derailed progress over the year). But that’s not 100% what this is about for me. It’s about enjoying the moment. To a certain extent, the baggage doesn’t even exist in this conversation. The moment does.
So what is the moment? It’s running.
I got a new phone earlier this year, and I was deliberate about getting one that was the same size as my last one so I could keep using my arm band. Except the shape was just different enough to make it impossible to continue using the armband. And I’ve dropped the phone a bunch since buying it during my non-running time, so I don’t know how long it’s going to last. I don’t want to buy an armband only to need a new phone a few months later.
So I’m running without my phone. I’m running without music. I’m running without Sam guiding me through a field plagued with zombies.
Instead, I’m shuffling around campus taking in the sights and the sounds. I’m feeling my breath. I’m hearing my steps. I’m more present.
The moment was always going to pass, but at least when I disconnected from technology a bit, I could at least appreciate the moment while it was there.