What I think of as The Dead Poets Friday Runners

  • Friday, December 28, 2018
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“The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”
Robert Frank
Coming in from a run and drinking a mug of Rooibos tea under a hot shower I was idly wondering how to frame my retrospective of the running year. As the mud turned to brown rivulets running down my legs and swirling across the porcelain I realised that If I took a bald look at the last 12 months it would appear boring, beige or vanilla or any of those descriptions of bland one may care to use. If one is inclined to graphs then mine is fairly flat. It’s true, there are a few obvious high points, Australia being the standout with its tangled bush, its dunes, the endless coast and big sky and of course the magic valedictory dolphins but otherwise a cursory look back appears repetitive and dull.
I’m left then having to try and tell a story using broad strokes.
Psalm 42 talks about deep calling out to deep and this phrase is hooked in my heart as I wonder what to write. The psalm goes on to say all your waves and billows have gone over me and I suggest this is how the year has been for me, I have been enveloped by running and the gravitational pull of it’s moon tide. As I scratch the surface and dig deeper I become aware that this has actually been a great running year. My runs have come as wave after wave, consistent and regular and if the psalm also alludes to communion then that is also appropriate. I’ve run my regular routes through the woods and developed an ever deeper intimacy with what I described to a colleague as my cathedral than I could ever have imagined.
Actually this is the best running year I’ve ever had and I’ve now been running ten years.
I have fragments of memories and impressions, so in no particular order:
The rising mist delivering three teenage boys, hooded like death monks in Adidas and GAP, sharp nosed with hidden eyes, trailing menace like feral things of the night.
Running with Annie on a crisp morning, our breath whooshing from our mouths like freshly extinguished dragons.
The inappropriateness of neon running gear in the midst of nature.
The absolute necessity of running in red underwear.
How there is something awful about trees in winter.
Drinking Swedish Cider in the garden after a hot run.
Giving up Swedish Cider and indeed all alcohol and flipping my eating habits on their head.
Feeling happier.
The peal of church bells in Summer as I ran across the common.
The clarity and purity of birdsong.
How I love ending a run by bounding across the Common towards the pond.
The eerie healing moment in the snow, brokenness and light juxtaposed and threaded together by the formation of ducks above my head. It changed me as the kiss of the divine should.
The mindfulness of straining Kefir every evening.
Silver sweat slicking off my Maori skin in the heat.
The earth cracked apart by the sun.
Running with my laaitie, my son who at 14 already has a zest for life that surpasses most people and laid aside his bass to run with me. Thanks bud for introducing me to the wonderful Vulfpeck.
The incredible heat that took me home.
Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo lifting my heart as they always do.
Cold Chisel and Foy Vance. First Aid Kit.
Running conversations. Lots of them. Some serious, some profane but all infused with quality. I’ve never been so stimulated by talking and listening.
Which brings me to…
What I think of as The Dead Poets Friday Runners.
Kate who has given me a better level of self esteem by bestowing what appears to be sincere value upon me and faithfully tapping what I think of as the blessing tree each time she passes it.
Annie who takes no shit from me ever and seems to be able to look right into my soul with specific intensity. Eish. She has no idea how valuable this is to me.
So 2018 was running as I wish it, there was contrast and texture, colour and conversation. It was poetry and music and art. It was Divine and profane. There was evolution. I’ve never felt so in love with running, so consumed but so at peace with it. It was alive.
And it’s an important conversation I’ll finish on. Running down a rocky road with Annie and Kate I mentioned that the sunset was worth a photo but that I wouldn’t because I would rather just enjoy it for what it was in the moment. I said that it was unique and we would never see another sunset like it ever again in our lives and that made it special. Annie said that each of us saw it in a different way from our own perspective and Kate agreeing said it was what John Mayer wrote about in his song 3X5

“Today I finally overcame
tryin' to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm in the mood to
lose my way but let me say

You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You'll be with me next time I go outside
no more 3x5's
just no more 3x5's”

So if you are reading this I say enjoy every moment. They are fleeting and we don’t get them back. Make your lives extraordinary even when they appear mundane. Love. Listen and talk. Create.

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