What are we but an aggregation of our habits? We have destinies, sure. A son goes to war. A girl is born into poverty in Africa. A child is born to two Democratic-voting lawyers in Park Slope.
Change doesn’t figure in the human story quite the way we’ve been led to believe from our founding myths and fables. We mourn the warrior dead, but yet that path honors sacrifice, often, sadly, at a far too early age. In return there’s color guard burial, Arlington Cemetery in the center of our nation’s capital, still the most powerful nexus of our known universe.
So if change is hard to come by, good habits, for those of us with modest means, are not: eat well, sleep soundly, sing lullabies to babies, drink responsibly, compete hard in a sport, run for your life.
Thankfully, that’s what I’ve been able to do. Run for my life. In 2016, that will be the case for forty years, every other day, at the least, or during marathon training, of course, much more than that. Today (August 31) I ran hard, five miles in forty-five minutes, a pace I can manage these days. It was hot and humid, but I did not stop except to drink a little at a public fountain.
How do you keep at it? You don’t stop. Each day I run is different. For some, I’m itching to go, others I can’t seem to drag myself up and out of a chair. Habit, though, becomes ingrained: like eating well, doing good deeds, as simple as collecting plastic bags that blow in great numbers on the paths that I run; in five miles I’ll gather, two, three, four as they dance on the ground in the wind, and bring them home to be used as pick-up bags for Thurber, our redbone coonhound. You do what you do because you have to. Because it is what you do.
What role does passion play? It’s different. It’s different every day.
Next: Running for Your Life: Runners and Bikers: What’s to Be Done?