Monday, February 3, 2014

The Trail (Homecoming).

There is a map on the wall of a trail and it's old. You can see the creases where once it was folded, small tears where the corners would have been. There is a crumpled poster on the wall of a mountain, and that mountain is older than the map and the trail, it's real old. A holy mountain, Machapuchare, fish tail mountain. I remember the poster and I remember seeing the mountain too.

The trail on the map is just a line, its complexities hidden in a two dimensional image. The trail at night is different from the trail during the day, but the map doesn't tell you that. The trail changes during the seasons and the map doesn't tell you that. And the trail changes with you, and the map definitely doesn't tell you that. Of course, the terrain never really changes, you change. Living in the past - Running with ghosts. Living in the future - running with fear. Living in the present - just running.

The night runs are the ones where nothing seems real. You lose all sense of gradient and distance. Just a tunnel of light, senses heightened by the darkness. You tune into the sounds. You see strange shapes. And sometimes the strange shapes really are strange objects, coming across an oil field nodding donkey in the French forest. Deep in the forest, alone, there is a primal fear and a primal exhilaration too. I didn't think I'd make it this far, this is old ground.

On the nature of trail running.

There is purity in movement. There is death in inertia. The trail shows you. Its passive, you bring to it whatever you want, it doesn't care. It just is, in the elements, in the snow, and rain and burning sun. It will strip you to the bone. Where are you running too? Always returning home. And for those not running home, they just keep going and disappear. The trail is the home for them. But for most of us its an escape. Switch off. Long before gadgets and gels and training logs there were runners. And for a while you escape...

The road is different. The concrete, the noise. Running early in the morning in the dark and rain. Headlights like tracer rounds, the glare. So many people commuting. I see them, do they see me? Are they the same as me? Do they think I'm insane? The occasional nod and raised hand to someone else running out of the darkness. I wonder why they do this.

It never gets easier, it only ever gets harder. And still we continue. Searching, waiting for that perfect effortless moment when everything comes together and you feel like you can run forever. If you're lucky, you get one of those moments, and you spend the rest of your life waiting for it to happen again. Like the endless beach run, it went on forever, until I came around the corner and it was finished.

Come home, shower, go to work, like a normal person. (Is anyone normal? Or are there just some boring people?)

But in the background, one thing occupies your thoughts. Not the dreams of childhood, they burned away in the cold light of day a long time ago. These are different. Forged in the furnace of everyday mundanity. Some people take crystal meth, some people 'wash up and go racing in the streets', I entered Leadville. All choices are equally logical.

Sure 'there are other Annapurnas in the lives of men', but sometimes you have to get the Annapurnas out of the way first.

I needed a 'sunburn, a raincoat' or whatever. And I figured I had a 'whole lot of karma to burn.'

Sometimes one or two minutes pass when I don't think about Leadville or the trail or running.

But you've got to get these things in perspective.

Sometimes going for a run helps you do just that. The trail is always waiting.

Walter White - To hell with your cancer speech (Breaking Bad)

Cancer Patient: Its like they say man plans and God laughs

Walter White: That is... such bullshit

Cancer Patient: Excuse me...?

Walter White: Never give up control, live life on your own terms

Cancer Patient: Yeah...No... I get what your saying. But eh... cancer is cancer

Walter White: To hell with your cancer! I've been living with cancer for the better part of a year. Right from the start its a death sentence. That's what they keep telling me. Well guess what? Every life comes with a death sentence. So every few months I come in here for my regular scan knowing full well that one of these times. Hell,  Maybe even today day I'm gonna hear some bad news, but until then. Who's in charge? Me! That's how I live my life

Michael Herr Dispatches
Bruce Springsteen Racing In The Streets
Counting Crows Raining in Baltimore
Bob Dylan Desire liner notes
Maurice Herzog Annapurna
Breaking Bad TV Show Walter White Cancer speech