Back in the early '90's when I was living in Philadelphia, working at the country's oldest Quaker school, and writing my Masters' thesis on "Wilderness and the American Character" I was engrossed in the simple life. Since then, of course, I've had five jobs, lived in six houses, and had three kids. Along the way, things have gotten quite a bit more complex. Recently, however, my life has been simplified. And that is due, in part, to running.
It's cliche to say that running is the ultimate simple sport. All you need are shoes, shorts and the desire to get out there. And these days, you don't really even need shoes:)
Thing is, the cliche is true, running is a simple endeavor and, if given the proper place in one's life, it can help to simplify those other places in our lives that are becoming increasingly complex, complicated and, in some cases, downright unsustainable. For those of us who have chosen the complex path with kids, jobs, houses, cars, etc...it can be difficult, if not impossible, to carve out the time and space for simplicity. It takes effort and a choice to be present and in the moment.
I was reflecting recently on the last two years of my life -- two years that have been filled with transition and change. Through those two years, the one constant, at least until I was stripped to my core with a debilitating injury eight weeks ago, was my running. Now that I have begun to slowly crawl out of the injury hole and things are looking up, I am pausing to look back. The visceral memory of the complexity of the past two years lingers and what makes that reflection meaningful and purposeful is the acceptance of the growth that has taken place, growth that I did not know I needed.
In those moments of deep simplicity and silence I am reminded of that great Buddhist saying,
Don't ask why this is happening to me?
Rather, ask why is this happening for me?