Thursday, October 16, 2014

moving at the speed of joy

Absolute rest and composure is eternity. Time is unrest and dispersion; eternity is rest and unity, not inactivity or boredom. [...] Eternity is the brimming fullness of life in the form of repose. Something of eternity is deep within us.
--Romano Guardini, Meditations Before Mass

 On Monday night, I went on a run after dark.
That might sound like a dangerous and foolhardy plan in Central Park, in the middle of New York City.
But it was after dark because it was a rainy Monday 7pm in October, which, unfortunately for me, means that the sun has already set.

Thankfully, like me, my fellow acathisiacs who dwell in the city that never sleeps are not going to let a little dusk-light get in the way of their daily run-- an addiction, really.
So I was on my run, minding my own business, as I do whenever I run.
Running is a time to sink into myself, and I could never stomach the thought of running with someone else.
I always shake my head in disbelief when I pass a couple, holding a nylon string between them. I don't understand this. Running is supposed to be when you break free of all nylon strings holding yo back. You just go. At no one's pace but your own, to the beat of no one's heart but yours.
But then, this fellow runner runs right by me.
Something about the pound of his sneakers on the street, something about the rustle of his jacket, something in the imperturbable posture in his spine, something in him provoked something inside of me.
Now, people pass me as I run all the time--they have since I ran around my block in the dead of winter, they have during all my runs around the lakes at Notre Dame, and they do with unceasing frequency as I run through Central Park--and I don't mind them run bit. I never feel competitive about running, and being lapped by other runners increases my desire to run faster not one jot.
I run at my own pace, on my own time.
But all of a sudden, as I watched his black crinkly jacket swish off into the night, I suddenly felt spurred on to run faster.
I wanted to see if I could run at the same pace as this other human, to keep time with him, to push myself to run just a little bit faster.
And so I did. I lifted my legs just a bit higher, and pushed off the ground with a bit more force, and I bounded past him, happy that my ponytail was bouncing with insouciance to spare and a dare: catch me if you can. 

Man touches everything brought within easy reach of his mind by the constantly increasing means of transportation, information, education, and amusement; but he doesn't really absorb anything. He contents himself with having heard about it; he labels it with some current catchword, and shoves it aside for the next. He is a hollow man and tries to fill his emptiness with constant, restless activity.
--Romano Guardini

And as I ran, I felt light as a feather, feet hitting the ground lightly, springing off the pavement with energy, and then he caught up with me.
And for just a few yards, for just a few bends in the road, we ran together.
I had never run alongside of anyone before.
But this was something altogether different from those exhausting partnerships where people spend just so much breath by constantly talking to each other as they run.
It was something so much freer than being tied together with a nylon string.
It was a partnership of heartbeats keeping the same pace and feet pounding to the same rhythm.
 We flew down the asphalt, focused both on our own pace, our bodies flying through the air at the exact same angle, and landing with the same precision and grace.
It was exhilarating: around me was the dark shimmering Central Park night, with the smell and shine of rain lingering in the atmosphere, and next to me was another beating heart: I could feel it hit the pavement at the exact same time as mine.Then, I fell back, and turned to go down another path, between tall dark trees, still speckled with rain.

 Mere observation and consideration can prepare me to discuss trees or the phenomena of society with a certain competence; but my words grow thin and empty the moment I attempt similar observations on matters of the heart. If I really want to know what fidelity is, I must practice it. I can speak with authority about love only if in some form or other I have accepted its challenge. 
It is mine only when I do. --Romano Guardini

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