Category Archives: Philosophy

Tell your story

I write my story…

I write it in the beach sand,
So the waves will take it into the oceans,
Until they become legends that sailors tell while drinking.

I tell my story to the wind.
May it carry through the seasons,
drop it in a canyon far away.

Will put it in a piece of paper and roll it tight,
So it fits in a bottle that the tides will carry away.
May them inspire someone I will never meet.

I write my story with blood on the asphalt,
Scream it out loud before the rain washes it away.
Push my voice against the wind,
Move forward against my deepest fear.

Life is not worth anything if you don’t have a good story to tell.

Nobody cares how much you know…

…until they know how much you care.

That is the case with all kinds of service, from telephone companies to restaurants, from car washes to politics. Nobody cares how much you know about something until they feel you care about them.

One recent example I found in my massage therapist. From day one Anastasia proved not just to be friendly and accommodating, she also showed in many ways that she really wants to help and cares about your well being, as a client and as a friend.

She went out of her way to learn about my long distance running, to figure out what would be the the points more affected, the muscles that would require the most attention, the methods that would yield the most results. She took the time to run with me, to learn barefoot running herself, to figure out how to make her massage sessions much more effective than they would be otherwise.

That is a quality, a human quality, that we should bring to every aspect of our lives: Kindness. That is the one quality that will make you a better professional, a better friend, better at anything you put yourself into.

UPDATE:

Anastasia has been stalking me… ughhhhnn… welll… hum ham… she has been following me online during these four months I have been on the road and her support, encouragement, and good humor have been fabulous.

I seem to have an amazing capacity to locate and connect to the best people, the most generous and loving ones, and they always become great friends. Here is one of those great beings!

Traveler mindset

I saw a documentary about the origins of surfing and in that video they explained that the first Polynesians that had their culture wrapped around surfing believed that the final goal of a man was to surf. That was the ultimate goal in life.

Sometimes I think that in the world of travelers something very similar can be stated about their lives. If you press them hard enough for a purpose, reasons, or motivations that keep them on the road you will see a common pattern in most cases:

Travel is freedom. It’s a fantasy and an escape from routine.

It is also not expensive. Oftentimes spending more money will only build more separation between you and the places and people you travelled so far to see. Most of the amazing experiences you will find will be on the streets, at the houses of people you will meet, at witnessing how they will open their doors and their hearts to you.

Connecting with people intensifies the experience. Extroverts have more fun. Your attitude will set how you feel about it more than the experiences themselves. If you don’t enjoy a place it is probably because you don’t know enough about it. Give every culture the benefit of an open mind. Be positive and optimistic at all times and you will notice that your attitude will also be contagious.

Traveling can make you happier. It will break many of your assumed truths, it will challenge your previous knowledge about other people and places. You will start to make up your own mind about other cultures instead of adopting other people’s opinions as if they were your own ideas. It’s humbling to travel and find that other people don’t have the same dreams, don’t watch the same news, don’t have the same concerns and priorities. They also wouldn’t trade places with you, even if they appreciate and like who you are. Traveling you will learn new ways to measure quality of life.

Becoming a traveller destroys xenophobia and other forms of prejudice. It will make you understand and appreciate other cultures. Rather than fear diversity you will celebrate it. The most valuable souvenirs you will bring to your final destination will be the pieces of different cultures you will choose to absorb into your own character.

What is hashing about

If you see the hashers running their trails, if you pay attention to their extravagant clothing (or lack of it), if you focus on the large quantities of beer consumed, or even the occasional lewdness and frequent potty mouths, you may actually miss the point.

Hashing is a mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work. But most of all, it is an escape from “normal” life. An opportunity to behave like a child, to vent your frustrations, to behave outside of the norms you are used to and do it all in an environment where you are confident nobody will be judgmental towards you, and all that is said and done can be just blamed on the beer.

I think many people that hash are there to relieve stress. And what a good stress reliever it is! After participating in some of their trails and circles and parties I am very sure I found one of the tribes I can feel part of.

The hashers also have shown a great amount of hospitality similar to what you find among couch surfers. They have been hosting me, assisting in every way imaginable during this challenge, and I have been making lots of great friends this way.

A drinker’s guide to running the world @ CNN

Paul Reese, on running

“Reflecting on 40 years of running and racing, I’ve come to the realization that the most important consideration about running is not how fast you can run, not how far you can run, but rather, the degree and manner in which running and racing enhance your life. That is the sum and substance of the worth of running. Having said that, I would venture to guess that very few runners either think or dwell on such enhancement. Their energies, their thoughts, are directed to times, PRs (personal records), races, mileage, gear, and the eternal search for the perfect shoe. I plead guilty to having done much of that when I was competing. Maybe the realization and appreciation of enhancement dawn only after a person has suffered the loss of running and racing. While active, we’re just too damned obsessed with the inconsequential to recognize how privileged we are, how running and racing enhance our lives. One thing for sure, if you lose running and racing, you had better be able to devise ways to compensate because you will have a huge void to fill when you come to realize how running enhanced your life.” – Paul Reese, 2004

Would I still do it?

I notice often in the news articles about people who are endeavoring to do some athletic or adventurous feat. Be the first to do something, the youngest to do something else, or achieve some other noteworthy, and often newsworthy, goal. The feats require effort, perseverance, and preparation. But I sometimes end up with a slightly uncomfortable feeling about why the person is so hell-bent on the goal in the first place. I’m all for adventure. But for adventure’s sake. And when there’s a lot of hoopla around the effort, I can’t help but wonder… would that person still do it if there was no press, no fame, no book deal, no speaking engagements to be had in the end, and if nobody was going to know they’d even done it? Much of what dominates the news, these days, is election hype, political maneuvering, and the stories of people bent on wealth, power, or personal fame.

Then I asked… would I still do it?

Would I do the same run not because there was fame or achievement or a great book deal in it for me, but because I wanted to achieve something of value in itself?

Would I do it even if nobody would know about it? If I had to keep it a secret after finishing it, would I still do it?

I am absolutely comfortable to say that the answer is “yes”.

I want to make this blog not about me but about those helping, participating, and having a great time doing it. I want to make money not for myself but for EdenInAfrica.org and a fabulous person that dedicated herself to another cause that many would call “lost”.

Fame is one the most elusive and treacherous things to have, when it is pursued as a goal. And in a field like ultrarunning, fame seems to be even more elusive than anywhere else. Just finding information about other people that did runs across America was difficult enough. Checking their fundraising results was a major revelation: Very few raised more money than they spent doing the run itself. Of many that tried you can certainly pick up a case or two that had major marketing and PR teams behind it and well… they didn’t even finish their runs. If you look at their following on Tweeter just a few days after their run is done you will be surprised to see most of them back down at 3 digit numbers.

No matter what the goal, outcome, or hype, the fame that arises from most accomplishments rarely lasts. Ironically, the moments and people we remember best are often those who don’t even succeed.

“… Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being – a call that asks who they are…” – David Blaikie (Former journalist; Athletics Historian and Statistician. Founding Member of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Former President of the Association of Canadian Ultrarunners.)

Fear and God

I am not a religious man, but love a good reading and I love to talk about philosophy, religion, and other controversial and difficult issues. One of my favorite books of all times is Harlot’s Ghost, by Norman Mailer. In that book there is a part where the main character talks about his love for rock climbing and why it was so important in his upbringing. I can easily make parallels with my experience running.

“…I suspect that God is with us in some fashion on every rock climb. Not to save us – how I detest that tit-nibbling psychology – God saves! – God at the elbow of all misbegotten mediocrities. As if all that God had to do was to preserve the middling and the indifferent. No, God is not a St. Bernard dog to rescue us at every pass. God is near us when we are rock climbing because that’s the only way we get a good glimpse of Him and He gets one of us. You experience God when you’re extended a log way out beyond yourself and are still trying to lift up from your fears. Get caught under a rock and of course you want to howl like a dog. Surmount that terror and you rise to a higher fear. That may be our simple purpose on earth. To rise to higher and higher levels of fear…”