unedited thoughts

unedited thoughts: running to change

i’m excited about running a 5k this coming sunday. how could this possibly be?

two years ago running for the better part of half an hour could only have been achieved if a suitably terrifying pursuant (lion, ex-girlfriend, scientologist, etc.) was involved. now i’m able to run several miles without collapsing in an embarrassing heap, and even more strangely, i somewhat enjoy the experience. a distinct change in me. and that, my friends, is the point.

in recent weeks i’ve had the pleasure of watching adults revert to the emotional maturity of toddlers. i’ve witnessed behavior so baffling i’ve wondered whether i should just babble gibberish for the rest of my days to feel like i’m part of the plot. i’ve crafted imaginary lifelong narratives for relative strangers in a desperate effort to understand their need to regard the world with utter disdain. and i’ve had a handful of recognizable but less than admirable moments myself. all of these situations have involved ‘suffering’ on the part of the individual (yup, for myself too), and circumstances they’ve/i’ve experienced innumerable times before. yet objectively there seems to be no learning, no perspective, no change.

now it’s important to say that i know very little and understand even less, but i’m beginning to believe we don’t ever actually change. we certainly like to believe we can and do. we talk a good talk. but in the end we’re conditioned almost irreversibly to maintain a consistent personality even if our consistency is inconsistency. so my apologies but i think for the most part you’re going to be the person you are for the rest of your life. if you’re a prick now, you’ll probably be a prick on your deathbed. no amount of rationalization will change that, so if you’re insufferable, i’m sorry you had to hear it from me.

before i’m accused of defeatist cynicism, there are of course rare cases of profound change. i’m not really talking about those moments though, i’m talking about the subtler nonsense that we seem to carry forever. we become more experienced, but perhaps not so different.

so, for the most part i think that my recent run-ins with confounding individuals and my own “quoi” moments aren’t perhaps so complicated, i’ve just witnessed and enacted behaviors that we’ve always been capable of and will inevitably do, ad nauseum.

still with me? now, what does that have to do with running and being excited about the self-torture of running training? to me running represents change. in short, i have moved from being incapable to being capable (ever so slightly) of something, however slight. it’s so utterly concrete it gives me confidence that the more abstract considerations of ‘changing myself’ are less overwhelming and perhaps possible. can i be a better friend/husband/person? can i finally achieve some consistent discipline? can i stop this or that? can i be this or that? probably not, but i can be a stronger runner, and that’s a small step towards something, right?

there are so many things i would like to move towards changing, for myself, in myself, but also around me, in my community (for sake of a better word). watching my elders behave like children, watching unbridled rudeness, watching illogical choices that cause oneself or others harm, it’s hard not to feel despondent about the possibility of the world progressing towards positive change. but moving from a body that feels weak and hurt and ill, to one that feels capable and clean and slowly strengthening, makes potential for progress tangible.

so after months of running maybe i’ll wake up one morning see a pile of dirty dishes and be instantly inspired to wash them! no, i’m getting ahead of myself, that’s insane.

change is at the forefront of my thoughts at the moment, so i’ll keep coming back to this idea.

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4 thoughts on “unedited thoughts: running to change

  1. Change is good but it’s important to shape it in ways that result in the outcomes you need–and you seem to be doing that. Keep it up. …and then there are the quantum shifts; the ones that change everything…

    • Thank you for your response Maurice. You’re right, there are degrees of ‘change’, some subtle and some profound. It’s those nagging, core behaviors that I’m after. I appreciate the encouragement!

  2. my Aunt Raffy told me of the bemused shock she experienced when she decided to go back and re-read her journals from when she was in her 20s (she’s 70 now) and the entries could have been made mere weeks before. she had been fighting the same personal battles her whole life: sometimes with humor, sometimes with very little awareness, sometimes poorly, sometimes more efficiently than the previous time and yet still not so well later when she fought them again. she had ‘changed’ in the sense of tastes and skills and learning not to bother with things for appearances’ sake and expanded knowledge, but a fundamental struggling her (I won’t call it the ‘core’ her, and neither did she: no Freudians we!) had gone on struggling, no matter where she lived (Ohio, Mexico, Australia) or who she lived among (family, husband, girlfriend, alone). (p.s. hope the marathon went well!)

    • how case in point is this story? i think perhaps things would be a lot easier if we didn’t try to muscle ourselves to be something different, but spent time with who we actually are a lot more? thank you for sharing.

      haven’t tackled a marathon just yet, still at the under 10 miles stage, that’s my goal for the spring with the dc cherry blossom race. can’t imagine a marathon at this point, but perhaps one day!

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