Dear Readers, stick with me on this one…I’ll get there.
I don’t think I have mentioned that I am a janitor at a Charter High School of a fairly small size (as a running buddy once said, “That’s a movie in the making!”). Before this I was a graphic designer production artist laying out magazines, but then the recession got me and I was laid off for a few months. I grasped for all sorts of jobs, but this was the only one that came through for me, partially because I told them I would help coach their Cross Country team. The job is satisfying enough and I’m well respected as well as frequently praised for my work. The dynamics are good, however, I can’t help but question my self-worth in relation to the job. It’s ridiculous I know, especially coming from someone who constantly espouses the separation of work as identity (and what do YOU do?).
Regardless, as I was mopping a floor today, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, the consideration creeped into my head again. “What in the world am I doing? I spend countless years educating myself by reading books on all subjects and here I am mopping floors? Is this really my lot?” It just felt so….stupid. Not in the sense that only stupid people can do the job, but in a larger sense of life…stupid. Now, skipping over a lot of personal premises for the sake of brevity, it hit me quite clearly the ridiculousness of NEEDING to mop a floor over and over again. The ridiculousness of the larger social relationship that makes the mopping of a floor a necessity. The excesses of civilization. I slipped further into the inner conversation.
“Of all the social relationships, of all the possible social structures, of all the potentials for our existence….THIS is where we are? The wonders of our abilities propped up by complete monotony and servitude? This is just dumb.” Then of course the restrained urge to run outside and scream at the passing cars over took me. “What the hell are we doing?! This is so…so…STUPID! Where are you going? You look so completely bored! You all want to be somewhere else! So do I! Let’s get the hell out of here!”
It was a fun daydream anyways.
Here’s the thing. I don’t believe in god. (Again, bear with me reader, I’m going somewhere). It’s not that I reject god. It’s not that I don’t WANT to believe in god. It’s simply that I’ve gone through intense personal study, philosophizing, theistic considerations, emotional struggle, etc., and have come to the conclusion that there is no god. To some, this is cause for absolute destitution, depression, the wailing and gnashing of teeth (I was raised catholic..I know my biblical metaphors), but I don’t see it that way. Personally, through this realization, I find our existence to be so incredibly magical, so incredibly fantastic, so incredibly unbelievable that it baffles me to no end that despite the widespread acceptance of this theory of “non-creation”, that we don’t wake up everyday FREAKING THE HELL OUT that we exist, and then living accordingly. NOT wasting our time on the mundane. NOT wasting our time doing the bidding of others. NOT imagining the endless possibilities of our abilities. But we do.
So there I am mopping the floor, swimming in the thoughts of life’s beginnings…the expansion of the primordial soup…bouncing back between the frustration of our social structure and the liberating thoughts that we aren’t bound to some predestined servitude. But I was still mopping the floor, because despite all my previous attempts, I haven’t figured out how to get out of this mess. The only thing I have found out is how to make the best of the situation….getting through the day, squeezing in just enough personal satisfaction and reward to make it to the next without drowning in complete desperation (there was a time I wasn’t successful at this).
So I started thinking about that Darwinian primordial soup again and the development of our existence. Now, I’m no scholar on the subject, but I find a lot of convincing evidence within the basic theories of evolution. The theory itself is fascinating yes, but more than anything I find the very simplistic and very physical dynamics of the process most intriguing. When you break the evolutionary process down, all the ridiculousness of our lives is stripped away and we are merely bodies, reacting to our environments. The stock markets, the job markets, the architectural contests and gas ovens (to borrow a line from my favorite poem), are just excessive nothingness. What matters is only our bodies. Everything else just seems so, absurd, to me.
Ok, now let’s get to the topic. There are some things I do in my life, that aren’t mopping floors and scrubbing toilets for barely evolved monkeys, that go against this daily absurdity. They are the more simplistic functions of survival, the less mediated forms of thriving. They are activities that help me develop and appreciate my self-worth, my joy of living. They are basic pleasures and activities – sex, caring for my son, growing food, free associations…..and running.
I was still mopping that floor and it hit me. Running is such an integral part of my self-worth. It is not EVERYTHING, but it is certainly a huge part of it. I think this is so, not only because it is a special talent of mine, but more than anything else, because it simply feels APPROPRIATE. This asinine and insulting social structure compels us to act out so many behaviors that in the larger scope of the importance and magic of our existence, seem so out of place, so ridiculous, so….inappropriate. But running is different for me. It is seemingly an endpoint, a developed physical skill come to completion through a developed physical process of expansion. An expected outcome of the primordial soup. Mopping, on the other hand, is not.
In this realization it seemed that running had taken on a new sense of importance, but not really. Coming to the conclusion that running feels so incredibly APPROPRIATE in the grand scheme of existence doesn’t make the act any more important, nor fulfilling, if only because its very integral part of my functioning was already swelling with reward and satisfaction. That satisfaction was nothing I needed to UNDERSTAND…..it just IS.
Ultimately, this whole inner conversation was a distraction from the inappropriate elements of my daily functions. All I wanted to be doing was something that felt appropriate in the realization that our existence is so incredibly fantastic and that it should be treated as such. For me, running serves that purpose, that expression of appreciation, not necessarily TO anything, but merely presented in the reproduction of the act itself.
And it feels good.
14 miles – not really recovery, not pushing it. Just adding miles. Tomorrow is a day off, then a 20 miler on Sunday.
Breakfast – Oatmeal (turbinado, raisins, almonds), Coffee
Lunch – Leftover veggie burgers w/ tomatoes and avocadoes, green beans
Dinner – Indonesian Peanut Saute w/ tofu from Noodles and Co.
Snacks – Coffee, Banana, Water, Gatorade, Post-run smoothie, Chocolate, Chai Tea, Soy Iced Latte