A long distance friend of mine called me yesterday and we had a brief, but decent catch up conversation, touching on obstacles, near-future plans, and overall life perspectives. My friend, a bike enthusiast, who rides recreationally and competitively made a comment that struck a chord with me and mirrored similar thoughts I’ve been considering regarding our respective interests. To paraphrase, he said,
“Lately I’ve really been struggling with my love of cycling and just how much joy it gives me, but working in a bike shop has made me realize just how involved it is materialistically and how it tends to conflict with my other perspectives. Like, I just finished reading a Derrick Jensen book and I really feel driven to do something to protect the environment in a concretely active way and I feel like I should be dedicating my efforts toward that end, but I also don’t want to give up my cycling, yet the two seem completely opposed to each other in a way.”
Internally, I thanked him for staying in touch and thanked myself for calling him back, if only to hear him say the very same things I’ve been struggling with lately.
For those of you who knew me (and my politics) before immersing myself with running, you probably already know the rest of this post, but for the rest I’ll offer a little summary for clarification.
I was involved with anarchist culture/practice for many years (not to say I’m not anymore)…and I mean heavily involved. My every day was informed by anarchist politics and my every action was weighed against the effectiveness of creating the world of total liberation I so desperately desired. I went through many emotional struggles debating my anarchist practice, some emotional highs and some emotional lows. Then my son came along, and although that experience only solidified my desires for a world of total liberation, obsessively tending to his needs started the process that took me out of the more communal anarchist effort. I was more concerned with making sure the cloth diapers were washed. Then after moving to the middle of nowhere to save money, I started running again. Then, well, here we are.
Now my internet bookmarks are comprised of more running sites than anarchist news sites. I make plans to travel out of state for races instead of anarchist convergences. I draw out detailed training plans instead of detailed plans to establish the next infoshop. And, all other elements out of my control aside, I’m more happy than I’ve been in a long long time. I have a lot of hope for my every day, despite the ever present obstacles to financial freedom. In short, I’ve effectively replaced my involvement in anarchist culture with my involvement in running culture…and I’m absolutely fine with that. Mostly.
There are still issues that act to drag me back in. When I hear of my friends getting put in jail by the state, or when I read a particularly impassioned piece of propaganda, or when I read ecologically focused anarchist writings, I can’t help but remember the reasons I was so deeply involved in the culture not so long ago. Basically, because I really believe we are stuck on a speeding train that is going nowhere but off the cliff….environmentally if not socially.
I’ll spare you the details…this is a running blog after all.
However, it was a relief to hear that a friend I have great respect for, who is in a relatively similar situation as I am, is currently struggling with the same dilemma. We are so impassioned and entrenched in our sports interests, which give us great success and pleasure, but at the same time we have these moments where we can’t help but understand the relative futility and absurdity of it all. It really puts our efforts into perspective, no matter how rewarding they are to us personally.
I don’t know, I wish I had a more redeeming point to this post, but I guess I don’t. Ultimately, I don’t have much hope for the shape of things to come, and if the opportunity does arise where I can have an effect on the world in a positive way, you can bet I’ll be right there, but until then I’m quite satisfied riding out the speeding train and making the most of it along the way. That sounds kinda terrible doesn’t it? 🙂
I think that’s what troubles me the most honestly. Running has been such an amazing escape for me in so many ways, but when you leave behind “ignorance is bliss” and now have an understanding of “what’s coming”, that escape is quite troubling. Yeah, I can escape diminishing salmon, deforestation, continued development and capitalist expansion, an ever increasingly toxified ocean, and all sorts of others horrors, but I know that’s irresponsible. Yet, I can’t get away from how exciting and rewarding running is to me on a personal level and how it makes everything else pale in comparison, even when everything else might just be ecological collapse in my own lifetime. Then again, maybe I’m just reading too many apocalyptic books lately.
Still, to put my ugliness out there, I’m not stopping running for some feel good effort to “save the world”. That’s just how it is. We’ll cross the final bridge when we come to it.
Also, in relation to yesterday’s post….I’m giving a Veganism 101 talk to a class of High School freshman tomorrow afternoon! Maybe more blog fodder?!
10 miles easy – resting after a rough week and the coming high-mileage, tough workout week ahead. Feel less fatigued now, which is good.
Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter and raisins), coffee
Lunch – Leftover pasta w/ veggies
Dinner – Quinoa w/ mushrooms, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and all kinds of other amazing goodness, w/ garlic bread
Snacks – Cereal w/ soymilk, water, coffee, banana