One of the other consequences is that I cannot answer any trivia questions about the latest reality show or be-the-next-greatest-singer-dancer-weightloser-topmodel-designer-cook-cakedecorator-nanny-housewife-makeover show. Somehow I don't feel like I missed out.
Back in high school after a workout on the track or gym, I would often run the seven miles to my house, the big yellow one out on Jameston Road. In the rhythm of pace, heartbeat, breath, the mind can go anywhere. Even touch nothingness. There's something deeply moving—intellectually, psychologically, even spiritually—about the drive that pushes through physical limits and beyond. Some of the dreams inspired in those moments are the same ones I carry with me now.
I recently heard Rachel Toor read a beautiful piece about her run from rim-to-rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon shortly after the death of her mother. It was a physical challenge above and beyond and then perhaps the way to peace.
It's the aesthetics' pilgrimage, the personal "monomyth"—the hero's journey. It's why many of my heroes are thoughtful athletes.
Now that my knees are shot from years of activity and the shortcomings of my genetics, I access that place in different ways. Sustained practice has led to an awareness that has altered my thinking at a fundamental level. If I seek out these moments, they show themselves, coy as white-tailed deer by the river, beautiful as the mourning doves that come down from the roof like specters on hovering wings.
It's a powerful place, connected awareness, a state of mind that lifts me above my own pathetic preconceptions, fears and human foibles. Greater than us all. Call it god (or God), higher power, enlightenment, nothingness.
Crazy, you say? Touch nirvana with a jog around the block? I say, do whatever works. Figure out what that is, and then do it every day. Repeat. And if it stops working, find something else that does. It's that important.
Along the way, watch a good game of basketball now and then. Or cricket. That's what I would do.
"Beauty is not wasting a day. Beauty is noticing life's little intricacies and taking time out of your busy day to really enjoy those little intricacies. Beauty is being real, being genuine, being pure with no facade—what you see is what you get. Beauty is expanding your mind, always seeking knowledge, not being content, always going after something and challenging yourself."
- Jake Plummer, retired QB of the Denver Broncos, speaking at the funeral of his friend, Pat Tillman. "What Was He Thinking," Sports Illustrated, Feb. 14, 2011.