Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mirrors and Other Instruments of Reflection

I am a runner.  However, I am not a social runner.  I do not belong to a running club.  While one of my closest friends and my running companera Gidg lives less than a mile from the Missus and me, we never run together.  We participate in a number of the same events but we do not go for Sunday morning runs through the neighborhood or any such thing.  Huge surprise to no one I suppose that of all the things I consider running to be for me - a social activity is not among them.

What it provides me is an escape.  Not from anything necessarily.  Rather, into something.  For the period of time I spend running every day I am alone with the thought (I would have said thoughts but who among us believes I am capable of more than one at a time) in my head.  There are times when that can be a pretty scary place to be - depending upon what it is that is careening around my head - but irrespective of that fact time spent within my own mind is time well spent.  

Years ago, when my father was still alive he dispensed a little nugget of paternal advice that I remember to this day.  He exhorted me to always remember that "Life is not a popularity contest."  He then added - for good measure - "And if it is, we are not winning it anyway."    I had more than my share of issues with my old man.  Then again, what son does not at one time or another? 

A trait I admired about my father probably more than any other was that he remained true to who he was. He did so regardless of the day of the week, regardless of the situation then and there confronting him or whatever set of circumstances he found himself attempting to negotiate.  He was who he was.  You dealt with him as he was.  He was not everyone's cup of tea.  He was unflinchingly honest.  He was never anything less than direct.  Much like Horton, he said what he meant and he meant what he said.  You liked him.  You did not like him.  Your decision, not his.  He did not alter his approach in order to curry favor from anyone.  Did it make him the most popular guy around?  Nope.  Did it perhaps bite him in the ass on more than one occasion?  It certainly did.  The last such example of which I can think was shared with Mom by Dad's former boss, Prentice C. Horne, under the guise of extending his condolences to Mom at Dad's wake.  But I digress.  'Tis a story for a different day.  

Running is a discipline.  It is also a solitary pursuit.  In our basement the treadmill faces towards an old wall unit that we had in a living room a house or two ago.  When I run on it five days a week, I see my reflection in the mirrored glass.  It helps serve to remind me - prior to going out into the world every day - that I owe the rest of the world nothing more and nothing less than to treat those with whom I shall interact fairly and honestly.  Lesson #1 today and every day. 

And it has always seemed to me that the duty owed to the world at large - honest and fair treatment - is what I owe to myself as well.  You may well be able to bullshit the rest of the world but when you run the one person you cannot bullshit is yourself.  You either do it or you do not do it.  There is no in-between. 

It is where the rubber meets the road, both literally and figuratively....

....and when that moment arrives, we better be ready to hit the road running.   


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