Running away

Posted in Running at 9:21 am by Marion

With fall’s cool days, there are few things better than a long run. Yesterday, I headed out into bright sun, down the highway and reached the nearby neighborhood where I was able to enjoy the shade of overhead trees.

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, The Great Carp, October 1889Crossing the first stream on my course, I stopped to look into the water and saw the fish. If I sneak up to them carefully I can gaze down at them for some time.

Later in my run, at a larger stream crossing, I see turtles and more fish. It’s often at this bridge I see the familiar large carp or trout, about 15 inches long.

This particular fish has been something of a spirit guide for some time. It was gazing at him one day that I felt the full meaning of words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama — that all beings want to be happy and avoid suffering.

I imagined this great fish going about his daily business of avoiding hooks and herons, turtles and raccoons, and doing so long enough to grow to this size. Somehow, I was with the fish, looking for food and minding my own small daily affairs in the world.

Seeing this fish is always a highlight of my run, reminding me to stop and consider my kinship with all sentient beings around me.

One time I saw some teenagers perched on that bridge with fishing poles. I asked them to reconsider what they were doing … because there was a large fish down there I was fond of. It probably sounded pretty flaky, but the thought of that old fish getting hooked and then discarded was unbearable. Sometimes being an adult has perks … I must have seemed like some kind of authority figure.

I’ve seen my buddy from time to time since then, although not yesterday, and I know one day he’ll be gone. And when he goes, it will remind me that what we call reality is always changing, and that everything will pass and fade away — the stream, the bridge, the neighborhood, my running shoes and these runs, my breath, my world.

That’s both unsettling and reassuring. It means life goes on, with or without me. I’m not in charge. The best I can do at any moment is just breathe in and run.

1 Comment

  1. Gene-o said,

    September 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    What a wonderful, contemplative piece to start the short work week. Next time you run, take a few extra steps for me. I hope to be “back on track” (literally!) next week.