In Search of A/The Point of Life

In the chaosmos of RUNNING AGAINST and RUNNING AWAY: Our deliriouslydelicious 6am loops in myopicdarkness at Regents Fark. Alternatively, hitting the hamster wheel.

The first snow of Nondon, November 2010.

In the face of a snag, what can we do?

1) Our natural (insofar as there is such a thing as nature?) instinct is to fight it. Resist it. Put up a bloody good brawl and, if in the end we are nearly dead from the bloodiness, at least we have put up a good fight.

2) Yet, if fighting seems futile, and if it is wiser to not fight but fight by opting out, so be it. Rather than a sign of weakness, running away is a tactic of survival and can be a wise sign of strength, too. The Tarahumara Indians of North Mexico – superathletes capable of running ultradistances for days on nothing more than skimpy rubber sandals – first resisted the colonisers by running. The more danger encroached, the further and deeper they ran. As Bernd Heinrich observes (and reports of himself), (we) runners are guided by dreams and madness as much as we are by logic; stubbornness (the sisu that we see in the amazing flying Finns) and resilience as much as pragmatism.

In December, as Nondon experienced what has been repeatedly described as ‘unprecedented’ ‘arctic’ weather conditions, we ran into the conundrum of ‘running away from’ versus ‘running against’.  We were undecided if which was better (or the lesser evil), to fall in icy conditions outdoors (as we did in January 2011 in the Swiss alps while visiting Heidi, and on 17 December on our way to the opening of our exhibition), or to admit defeat and run indoors instead and risk falling off the treadmill (December 2009)? Which is a better fall? Which lousy choice is less lousy?

As 1.57m (Yes, when fully erect. Yes, back fully straightened. Yes, neck standing upright.) ex-tropical beings in a most recent life, our war with the Nondon weather looked like a farcical David-versus-Goliath mud-wrestling (or snow-sloshing) match. Yet, in our determination to raise two or ten fingers or twenty fingers and (callused) toes at the weather, we have been undertaking 10km dashes at Regents Fark at 6am, whenever the weather was clear. Being myopic, the darkness protects us from being fully awake and alert, but also grants us an other lens of lucidity, enabling us several orgasmically endorphin-filled sessions. Then, the first heavy snow fell in Nondon in late November, we were initially in denial, and continued to run outdoors. Wrapped up as Michelin Man, we treaded carefully and slowly. Did it feel good? NO, of course not. Running in layers and layers of heavy clothing will never be a comfortable option; neither is having to run watching every single step. In some senses, we could read that this sort of running as so compromised as to not do justice to the notion/spirit of running (do we hear shades of the pro-life versus pro-euthanasia debates here: better a bad quality but prolonged life, or one shortened  – perhaps while one is on top of one’s game – but lived to the full?).

Hence we decided that it was perhaps wiser that we stopped being obstinate in trying to outrun nature, but to let her do her job, or whatever it is that she desires or needs to do, and that we went for an alternative option. So, it has been the claustrophobic and soggilyventilated hamsterwheel in a gym for the wussy hamster. Outdoors, we have no problems whatsoever running 10-20km at a pop. On the treadmill, however, we sometimes struggle even with ONE kilometre. Yes. We are shocked too, and could not decide if we should laugh or cry (and use the tears to lubricate our psychological resistance to the machines)? Where has that inertia/animosity/fear come from?

Fortunately, that was then. The arctic conditions seem to have left Nondon, and we are back to our 6am (and lately, 5:30am, for our day does not feel begun unless/until we move our body) runs at our beloved Regents Fark. At the expense of paid gym membership, but feck it. Give us the great outdoors, anytime. (and save us from the disturbing phenomena of swinging ponytails in OFFENSIVELY LOUD west coast accents, trashy TV programmes, short men pumping iron, mouldy floors of showers). We take comfort in the darkness, as if the darkness protects us. On average, we meet (or rather, sense, or run into, and sometime bump into, given that we can’t really see them) about 15 runners (and about 8-15 cyclists, who go about in groups/herds, unlike us runners who go about [in life too?] necessarily [?] in solitude). We say neither ‘hello’ nor ‘good morning’; instead we are quietly work on, as if there is a tacit understanding that we are doing what we have to do. Of particular significance is an elderly (or simply beard-y? For, once again, being myopic, and especially so in the dark, we have no idea) man whose waist is tied to his labrador (or what looks likes of such a dog, for we are not able to differentiate dog-types, though we are certain that the most loathed of the canine family would be the chi*&%hua, which looks more like [somebody's idea of] a joke. Except that it is unfunny). (We think/ assume it is a dog (?), although once again we have no way to confirm, unless we put on our glasses, but any extra thing we attach to ourselves is but a burden, and surely we do not need any burden, so we will have to take it that it is [or was] a dog.). A strong dog (and master) this labrador, or labrador-ish dog is, for it runs at a very strong and confident pace, every morning, leading his master forward. If we had a cat (THE BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL BRITISH BLUE, FOR INSTANCE!!) we would train her to do the same for us. The weather has turned muggy, so much so that we have been sweating unseasonably more than usual, and the dry-wick shirts do not help.

Could we possibly use our excess(ive) sweat production to lubricate the hardship and human and inhumane suffering that is to come in the remaining 593 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) days of our life?