WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING.
FORREST GUMP: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across
. And I figured, since I run this
far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Greenbow County . And that’s what I did. I ran clear
across Alabama .
For no particular reason, I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And
when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn
around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d
gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going. Alabama
—Forrest Gump, 1994, Robert Zemeckis.
LET ME TELL YA, Haruki Murakami and I have two things in common. We run. We write.1
The Japanese writer doesn’t care much about the speed of the race. The same holds true for me. I’m happy running a certain distance determined before starting the race. If I say today I’ll run 2 miles—that’s what I usually do now, 10 miles per week, a total of 40 miles2 per month—, I have to stick to it, comes rain comes shine. On the contrary, writing is a mystery for me. I can’t tell before hand, “Today I’ll write five pages.” Every day I sit down at my desk, comes rain comes shine, though the outcome is always unpredictable. One day I write ten pages, and another I place a comma in the morning and delete it in the afternoon. It’s a mystery.
As one might imagine, my face won’t appear on the front cover of Runner’s World, but I laugh hard when I remember my first short runs. Picture it: red face, harsh breath, heavy heart pounding, and puffing non-stop. Like writing, I gradually and patiently incorporated running into my daily routine, reaching a peak of 3 miles a day.
The ideas for my books come to me unexpectedly: mostly when reading, writing, talking, or zipping down the road. I usually run after five hours of writing, so I guess it’s quite normal that some ideas cross my mind immediately afterward. Except if I listen to music on shuffle. I like to listen to jazz or italian songs degli anni sessanta—che cosa c’èeee—, and if nobody glances at me, I even do a step of dance.
There are days that I feel quite lethargic, but I know I have to scanner that feeling and see if it is just due to laziness. Believe me, the mind always creates excuses. My mission, though, is to pronounce two words: shut up, followed by lacing up my running shoes immediately afterward.
When I was a teenager, I used to run long-distance races. It suited me. I’ve always thought I have a great deal of stamina. Also in life. I could say I’m not a sprinter in life either. Actually I don’t believe in sprinters. I can work hard and long without any outer feedback, with no policeman behind. I just need the policeman to take my butt off the chair. Unlike Murakami, I've never run the marathon, and even if sometimes I ponder over it, at least for doing it once in my lifetime, right now I am not physically capable of. I would need lots of training. Lots not, tons of training.
I run around the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir. I love the landscape. Those naked male torsos running around are somewhat painkillers. Joking apart, when I walk in
Park, I feel in another dimension, surrounded by the greenery and
the still lake, and while running my retina snaps breathtaking pictures. Lately, it's crowded. Many runners have been training for the NYC Marathon, which will take place this coming Sunday. They call themselves marathoners, but suffice it to say that when it's drizzling, all weenies stay home watching The Simpsons. I wouldn't care to run all alone, but it prevents me from going to at dusk.
Running is not a smooth sail. I feel the pain. Some days harder than others. So when Friday comes, I shout “TGIF: Thank God, it’s Friday” and not because of writing stops—fortunately, it doesn’t—but running does.
So you’ll ask, why the hell you keep running?
Because of the second consequence. I’ll talk about it soon. Stay tuned, folks!
And happy running, marathoners!
(1)Notice, Dedicated Reader, I deliberately omitted complements and adverbs with the sentences “We write” and “We run”. They would destroy the truth that lies in the first sentence.
(2)I like to count the miles per month. It shows me that I run almost two marathons monthly.
Copyright © 2011 by THE PYTHAGOREAN STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.