My favorite thing to do after my morning run is to sit on my front porch as the sun crests the Wasatch Mountains, my first cup of coffee steaming next to me, and my hand cradling the well-worn pages of a book. My body is relaxed and refreshed from my run, and my mind is open and excited with the new day.
This morning I was reading Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott. I started the book a few days ago and pick it up every spare moment I have. I came upon this passage in the book:
“To be engrossed by something outside of ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass—seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one.”
These words resonate like the deep vibration of a gong. These are the final lines of a chapter about what I think of as the author’s mind, the perspective on the world needed by a writer to bring the pages to life for the reader. It’s a place of awareness of what is going on around you and an openness to it similar to the wonder of a child who is experiencing something for the first time.
I think many of us, myself definitely included, get so caught up in our internal world that we lose sight of the beauty and wonder around us. We also forget that every other person is up to their neck in their own flavor of suffering and heartache, and we react toward them in unkind and reckless ways.
I run for a lot of reasons, and one is to be able to experience life, to see the world in a way others don’t, and to occupy my mind’s space. This is why I find an iPod annoying most of the time. An iPod blocks this awareness of the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings of running. It takes you outside of the moment.
There are really only two situations where I find my iPod useful while I run. First, is on the treadmill. The treadmill is boring. I don’t put the iPod in at first, but after about six miles on the treadmill, the iPod becomes a welcome distraction. The second is when it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit, no shade, and I’m running uphill. During those times, the iPod is also a welcome distraction.
Many of my running friends always use their iPod when running. They love it. They explain that running is boring and hard, and they need something to take their mind off of the monotony, rapid heart rate, and ragged breathing. I have nothing against those who use iPods. I would rather have them run with an iPod than not run at all.
But I encourage everyone to unplug for a mile every so often and live in the run.