Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Slay The Great Distractor

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Run Carefree (Wikimedia Commons)

Walking into work today, I had my headphones on and was listening to an old Terence McKenna recording on the Psychedelic Salon. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect of:

It is absurd to be anxious about anything. We simply don't know enough to have the right to be anxious.

This idea struck a chord with me, for I have been anxious about the upcoming full marathon (my first) and the myriad injuries that have arisen throughout my training. The latest injury reared its ugly head after the biggest week in terms of mileage of my career (88km/55mi). I hit a demonic wall on the final two kilometers of the 32km long run, I had two solid workouts during the week prior, and enjoyed the cool winter's night air on the easy runs in between. Being my biggest week, I knew that I was rolling the injury dice, and I should be thankful that this extensor tendonitis isn't something worse.

I'm still on schedule to run the marathon, only missing one workout this week with race day about ten days ahead. Yet, part of me pines for anxiety. A sliver of my being needs this nervousness as if there is no alternative way of spending my days than with a brooding undertone of weariness and worry.

I'm not a fast runner, though I want to be. Lord knows I will try to be one. And, I am positive that I have a lot to learn -- yes, of course, about the science of running and all that goes with it, but also with the philosophy of living in a way that is free from anxiety, fearless about failure.

Camus puts it like this: "Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness...one day the "why" arises."

Therefore, my takeaway is that I should try to drop this anxiety like a sack of potatoes, yes, but I should also, somewhat ironically, be thankful for it. For, as Camus said, this weariness and anxiety that I am feeling is sparking my truer self to ask why.

Why am I anxious about minor injuries and imperfect training cycles? Because, like many other runners I suppose, those nervous thoughts and feelings are nothing more than distractors of the present moment. The Great Distractor is an adept shapeshifter, making its presence known in all aspects of life. It wouldn't be crazy to suggest that life is nothing mroe than a duel between the Self and the Great Distractor. Dropping the anxiety (i.e. slaying this mighty opponent) may allow me to run carefree, but such action may do something even more beneficial: It may allow me to use running as a teaching tool, an experience that instructs me how to live a more engaged life. Wish me luck.

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