The Spiritual War

Note: The online results for this race have a time recorded for each lap. These times were recorded manually on a tablet using Ultrasignup's timing software. The time for at least three of my laps is blatantly wrong, since they are way too fast (i.e. 34-45 minutes, when in reality my fastest lap took, at best, 60 minutes). However, my overall result of 15 laps (82.5 miles) in 29:31:47 is correct. I believe my halfway mark of 9 laps (49.5 miles) in 12:44:28 is correct. The time of the first lap, 72:30, should be correct, and the final lap time of 63:20 should also be correct. I believe the final times of the runners who finished the race are correct, though like me they also have a few incorrect lap times. Timing is probably one of the most poorly done things at many ultramarathons, typically in an attempt to avoid the costs of timing equipment (which is understandable, especially for race directors who hold non-profit races or put on only one or two races per year). My background is in high school track and cross country, where a NY state official and either fully automatic timing, a time machine, or some other possible method used by timing companies (e.g. video capture) is present at every race. As such, this aspect of ultrarunning is rather unpleasant for me: I prefer that accurate results are taken. I wonder what low-cost timing option is best.
Note 2: This race features approximately 10,000 feet of elevation gain. That is considered "not that crazy" for a 100 mile race. This course is split up into three separate loops. The second loop is nearly flat. The first loop actually has the most elevation gain but almost all of the elevation gain on the third loop is on steep hills. So, there is not "a lot" of elevation gain overall but it is distributed in relative extremes.

Good and Evil
    On February 24th I began reading the works of Ted Kaczynski. He said that in order to take down the system it must be hit where it hurts-- in the vulnerable and sensitive areas. I have believed the same in a broader sense: in order to "win," in general, sensitive matters will have to be addressed and what gives humans a sense of vulnerability should be brought out, possibly even magnified. In order to be powerful in an ideal manner it is necessary to connect with one's own heart first as opposed to trying to be powerful per se. This is basically the meaning of "good" and "evil." The choice between "good" and "evil" is always at hand, and certain events may force one to face an ideological conflict which will result more strongly in the choice of either "good" or "evil." At one such point in my life, fictional examples showed me that those who choose the evil path do so because they feel cheated somehow-- that is, unfairly at a loss. They make a life of gaining power per se by driving fear into others, taking from them, and causing destruction to them. In these fictional examples the "evil" character (antagonist) meets with those who made him feel cheated: these people initially were his friends, and he thus has decided to betray them. This is an important detail because it means the evil character is a traitor to what he was meant to be: in other words, he has betrayed destiny. When he meets again with these formerly beloved people his pain starts to show, and he insists on destroying them for it. The "heroes" do not win by physically overpowering him: in fact, that is impossible since he has leveraged technology to increase his strength. Instead they must make appeals to emotion. The antagonist could handle this if only his evil was not born out of his pain-- if only he did not have a heart! His pain gets brought out to the point where he cannot fight effectively and is defeated.

    In a previous article I introduced the idea that there are fundamentally different groups of people, and the most important are based on opposing conceptions of life. One group has an economic conception of life: I refer to them as "economic men," or, more fondly, "The Economic Man." The other group has a life-centered worldview. At least in my notes I refer to individuals in this group as "Spiritual Man": I am reluctant to do so publicly since I am not certain it is 100% the same as Brooks' Adams conception of economic man and spiritual man; but, my and his ideas seem to refer to basically the same people. On to the point for this topic: I believe some people, like the antagonist, have a heart and turned to evil out of pain. It does seem to me there are others who truly have no heart and are destined to be "evil." They could be defeated if those traitors did not join them for apparent personal gain. I am fairly content to say that the heartless inevitably are economic men with virtually no way out. What I am not certain of is whether the traitors are economic men or spiritual men "gone bad."

    Either way, observing "evil" has illuminated an idea of what I need to be. Instead of trying to control the external world due to pain I must live openly with whatever sorrows I may have and thereby be "vulnerable." Because I strive for precision and completeness I am not certain whether it can be as simple as saying that I am sorrowful over this or that. It seems like I do my best when I allow it to be that simple. Sometimes, though, I do not want to make an admission lest it turns out to be incorrect or too incomplete and I ruin everything unnecessarily.

    I think I have found a relevant situation which will force an end to the debate. On February 24th the hearing began which will determine whether Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, will be extradited to the U.S. He has been charged with conspiring to hack into government computers when all he actually did (in all apparent likelihood) was publish the information sent to him by an insider. If the latter is true (I currently believe he is innocent of the charges) that means the American government is just bitter that the information, like the videos of American soldiers allegedly committing war crimes, makes them look bad and they want to discourage other journalists from following Assange's example. A former Congressman told Assange he would petition President Trump for a pardon if Assange would provide proof of who sent him the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) e-mails prior to the 2016 election. It was precisely this incident which led to the hysteria regarding "election hacking" and Russia, and it thereby played a role in the impeachment of Trump, so it is highly relevant. Assange has refused to reveal his source. I could guess that Assange does not want to talk lest he ends up ruining everything, which would likely consist of his source being punished for breaking the law. Unfortunately, the situation has reached a point where Assange's decision to either tell the truth or withhold it could mean the difference between whether he lives or dies. It certainly could have a major impact on world politics as well. Given the choice between addressing sensitive issues and embracing vulnerability or becoming vulnerable unwillingly and getting defeated (like the evil antagonist), the truth inside one's heart and mind must be revealed if one wants to live in glory rather than decay. In this case, it is possible Assange would rather that he take the downfall instead of his source. While there is honor in that, it is still worth considering what is the highest choice in the long-run, because it is not just about saving his own skin but a truth that is potentially highly important to the operation of global human society.

My Story
    When was it that fictional examples helped me to decide between good and evil? It was in the Summer of 2018. Things came to this after the loss of a person I loved: I was so conflicted over the matter that I semi-deliberately sabotaged it. I was tempted to feel cheated for various reasons and I wondered whether all I could do to "win" in any sense was to embrace power. Before long I remembered the stories I had learned earlier in life and saw how relevant they were. In addition to steadily crafting a life-centered and heart-centered ideology I did some of the best running of my life during this time: I improved my 5K time by 38.5 seconds in a single race and I improved my Boilermaker 15K time by five minutes and ten seconds, which placed me in the top 500 finishers and the top 60 women.

    The peak arrived in early August 2018 in a 100-mile race. I felt a bit sorry for myself going into the race because I was supposed to have assistance from the person who was now gone. I decided that I would do whatever I most desired for the entire 30 hours allotted for the race. Early in the race I felt sorrowful over my situation and walked maybe half the time. Sufficient progress through my thought process allowed me to run more as the race progressed and I enjoyed a sense of beauty and freedom. Having been possibly the healthiest all-around that I have ever been, I ran without pain. I felt close to the dreams of life's original beauty which so occupy me now.

    I completed the first half of the race in 12 hours and 45 minutes: then I steadily slowed down until I became jaded. The other runners noticed I slowed down so much and showed concern. A woman asked whether I was okay and I angrily yelled that I was fine. About 80% of the way through the course, a 5.5-mile loop, I was just about to cross a road when a truck pulled up and blocked my path. Out stepped the race director and a woman he called "the race medic" (something to that effect). He told me of the reports he received from other runners and offered to drive me back to the start/finish. Meanwhile, the woman insisted that eating candy would help me to feel better. My eyes widened at the offer to end the race: that was not what I had in mind. I explained to them that I was physically fine and just did not want to run; but, they did not seem to understand. To assert my point I stated that I had just gotten "broken up with" and was upset. The woman told me that the same thing had just happened to her so she understood. With this they drove away and I finished walking the lap to complete 55 miles in what I believe was 15 hours.

    At this point, 9PM, I decided to take a break. I ended up making no progress for five hours, until 2AM. After eating I sat inside Race Headquarters, a small ski lodge, and conversed in my imagination with my beloved, hoping to find some insight into what was needed or an answer to what the real situation was and why. I also had several actual conversations with the race director and I made sure to tell him not to withdraw me from the race because I intended on moving again. Finally I told him that the furthest I had ever run in one sitting was 62.5 miles and if I completed just two more laps I would surpass that mark. I could definitely get that done within the remaining 10 hours. When I got ready to depart he said, "OK, Kim-- eight more laps," referring to the number of laps I had left to complete the race. "I said two."

    Now in darkness, I continued my slow, burdened walk from earlier until about 70% of the way through the lap, where a left turn in the woods awaited. Before making the turn I saw a pair of eyes across the trail, to the right of the turn. I shined my light towards the eyes and could not believe the form that was illuminated: a giant cat. Somehow I knew it was a mountain lion even though I had never seen one (I have since taken pains to ensure it was not a bobcat, which is a more frequent sight). How did a mountain lion get to the middle of Rochester and what was it doing at 3AM? We both backed off quickly and stared at one another from a distance. Neither one of us broke the stare. I felt unsure of what to do. I tried to energetically communicate peace and harmlessness but could tell it was too much like groveling to be effective-- just a disguise for fear, a way of begging for my life. I stepped backwards until it was out of sight: then I turned around and walked, making backward progress on the course, until I found another runner. I told her the situation and we walked together until the eyes came into view, right where I had left them. She was shocked when she shined her light on the animal and she called it, "Creepy Cat-Thing." At this the cat climbed up the steep hill to the side of the trail and continued to stare from above: we were alarmed by this. At first the woman tried calling the race staff: I do not remember the exact result of this, thought at the time I knew it would be fruitless. After the phonecall there was a hard moment of silence. Then she put her phone away, pulled a large stick out of the adjacent hill, and aggressively raised the stick in front of her. At this the creature turned around and disappeared. She continued holding up the stick and we started walking towards the turn. We stayed together for roughly half a mile. Once we emerged form that part of the woods she wanted to start running again whereas I still did not. I took one last look over my shoulder, told her to go ahead, and thanked her. All I know about this woman is that she was on the only three-person relay team running the race. The race publishes results only for the solo runners like myself.

    When I returned to the start/finish line I had completed 60.5 miles: one lap to go. I did not want to do it but I knew I would somehow. The race director told me he was ready to close that part of the race: the race consists of three separate loops to be run six times each (3 loops * 6 laps each * 5.5 miles each = 99 miles, plus one mile at the end). This next lap, the 12th out of 18, would be my sixth and final lap on the second loop. Since this would be the last time anyone ran the second loop, he offered to send a volunteer to complete the lap with me and we would pick up course markers along the way. I consented to this and this walk ended up taking at least two hours. We talked through most of it but I could feel the conversation obscured my real mood: beneath the surface the ultimate truth waited to be brought to light.

    At the very end of the lap I asked the volunteer if I could run. She told me to go ahead, so I handed her the course markers I had gathered and ran maybe 0.2 miles to the finish line. When I arrived I went into the ski lodge again and laid on the floor: I wanted nothing. The raced director walked in to congratulate me on a new personal record (PR) for distance (i.e. the furthest I've ever run in one sitting). At some point I was partially lifted up and a soft green mat was placed under me: the volunteer gave me a final bit of help when she returned from the course. Tears began to run down my cheeks. I believe she walked out and the race director and I were the only people in the room. We discussed my "relationship" situation. He emphasized that I was young and a person at my age, 22, still had to "figure things out." At some point he asked, "Do you know how you feel, Kim?" "Sad." He replied with something: I only recall a mildly sorrowful/disappointed tone and I know I must have told him to not withdraw me from the race. He walked out and I was the only person left in the lodge, still lying on the floor.
    The End
    Shortly after he walked out I looked at my watch: I do remember seeing 7:05AM on there at some point and maybe it was now. Having completed 66 miles at that point meant I had completed 16.5 miles in the last 12 hours, compared to 49.5 miles in the first 13 hours of the race. Without thinking I got up and walked across the room to a window. Looking up to the renewed light of day I said out loud, "You have tried to kill me hundreds of times and I have never died." In recent months I had been thinking about my soul and how it was completely free, even from being overpowered by any force in the material world, psychological or otherwise.

    I stepped out of the lodge to its adjacent deck, where a few people were standing (along with the timing equipment), and stated, "I'm ready to run another lap." I took off my jacket and placed it with my personal items for the race, which were in the parking lot next to the lodge. I am fairly certain I drank water and ate a few dates, and for the first time in several hours. The trail begins in the grass just next to the parking lot: I went over to it and started running. Not jogging. Not running at some pace where I hope to do well without hurting myself. I started running faster than I had at any other point in the last 25 hours. I ran with no reservations. No deliberation took place in my mind at all.

    I was now on the first lap of the third and final loop: a short ways in there is a steep descent known by locals as "Cardiac Arrest." It is so steep that for a hiker in a normal state of mind it would warrant caution but I did not hesitate at all. The same was true of all the steep climbs on this loop. I did arrive at a hill at which my mind protested that I could not believe I was about to run this over 66 miles into a 100-mile race but I did run every single step, still full-out like this was the only lap of the entire event. I am certain it was on this lap that I saw the only other remaining 100-mile solo runner and I did say something to him.

    When I made it back to the start/finish line it turned out I had ran that lap in about 65 minutes (i.e. from the time I actually started running). I went over to my things, rested briefly by grabbing a chair with my arms outstretched, and was beside myself over what was happening. Very likely I took some food and water again. When I departed from my belongings to the trail the race director was on the grass on an ATV. He exclaimed, "Kim's in Beast Mode!" He drove off on to the trail and I followed running. This second loop, I would have to guess, went virtually the same as the first: I have virtually no recollection of it. I just know that it did happen, blazing fast, nothing held back-- not anymore.

    When I returned to the end/beginning I was tempted to stand still for a minute and take it all in like I did at the end of the previous lap. Just then, one of the co-race directors (there are three RDs total: so far I have referred only to one) came over and told me that if I wanted to run another lap I would have to start immediately because it was 10:30AM and with the 30-hour cutoff only 90 minutes away it was time to start clearing the course. My eyes widened and I was a bit concerned about my physical needs. He offered to take a container of coconut water I had on to the ATV with him. I knew I would not ever see that container again but there was no time for deliberating now. It is hard to recall exactly what I did: I know we talked about dates (the fruit). Did I eat any? Did I put any in my running belt? I would have to guess that I ate several. I knew I could not be that worried about it anyway for the end was near and it was time to go.

    This final lap had the most heart of all. I had just ran 11 miles at a pace of 11 minutes per mile for a total of 77 miles and 7600 feet of elevation gain traversed in 28.5 hours. I assure you the pace felt much faster than that: plus, consider that the women's course record for this race was run at an average pace just under 15 minutes per mile. After all this I had to go out there and face all the steep hills, both up and down, one more time. I met them with more courage than ever since more was required at so late a point in the race. About halfway through the loop there is a grass trail that goes out to near a road and I've always said there is a "farm" there: certainly there is a field; but, a farm I am unsure (I will let you know in about 5.5 months). The trail marks the perimeter of the field. I distinctly remember running the end of that perimeter, heading back towards the woods, and feeling that my heart was not only leading the way but it was full, at the height of its potential, tapped into every energy it was meant to express and which represented what I was meant to be. It was around 11:00 AM and I felt the Summer heat beating down as the sun rose higher in the sky. There was a fearful thought that I was run ragged and would succumb to heat exhaustion or dehydration: I felt that my heart might burst. But at that moment the memory of the person I loved came to mind and I had the sense that I was being as true to that love as it was possible to be. The intensity of the situation did not let up at all and my heart did not just go on but it forged onward with everything it had.

    At the end of the course it was time to be undone. The race ends through an extremely narrow foot trail with plenty of rocks and roots before it heads uphill, turns right, and then for about 50 meters heads straight into the finish line. I insisted, without deliberation because it was what I was trained to do and have always done, on running all-out to the end. As I began the sprint into the finish line the thought of how this was unnecessary since I had 30 minutes to spare and I wasn't actually finishing the race anyway entered my mind, and when I reached the small number of people clapping this thought provoked a vague sense of pain which might be described as embarrassment and disappointment. In the following hours, however, I felt possibly the most satisfied and self-realized that I have ever felt in my life and my thoughts on the race developed into what they are now.
    Now, I know that from the time I actually started running, each of the last three laps took 60-65 minutes. I confirmed this with the race directors but the online results do not reflect that (note below). I would like to think it was this last lap which I completed the fastest in 60 minutes. Given that the official time for that last lap is 63:20, I believe it did take just about 60 minutes from the time I actually started running.

    The point of this story is that I have since had the sense that on this day I achieved my ideal of having eternal consciousness while acting masterfully in time, which together should, as far as I am concerned, be possible only with a completely open heart. I believe the full extent of all my feelings was realized in that race. I made good on all.

    One week later I felt encouraged to say something to my beloved, departed friend after a month and a half of silence. Finally it occurred to me that I had never told her the complete truth, even in the letter I had written to her a month before. This gave me an idea which I wrestled with painfully for hours, for it would defy my policy of silence and bring all end to appearing tough. I decided that I would rather die in glory than decay so I texted her the message, "I want us to be together."

The Larger War
    I suppose now we have the difficult and unpleasant part. The person who had been on my heart during the race was a woman. From the ages of 18-20 I wrote openly about my thoughts and feelings on sexuality, which were relatively liberal. In 2017 (age 20.5) I steadily became more reserved on the matter. Finally, near the time of my 21st birthday the crash came. I decided that I was flawed in a way that I did not desire to be flawed. I also decided that liberal views on sexuality were disgusting and unnatural and I wanted nothing to do with them. In August 2017 I posted an article called, "Renouncing Unhealthy Sexuality," where I expressed this change in viewpoint and concluded that while I did not want my sexuality anymore I was doomed to the ways it had shaped my character and so I resolved to be celibate and more or less broken. Shortly thereafter I decided to delete every reference to sex I had ever made which could be deleted: I just wanted all of the filth and embarrassment to disappear. Finally I deleted the article also and thus removed all trace of this aspect of my life.

    As you can tell from the archives, I did not write much after that until July 2019, and none of my writing since then addresses the subject. In person I did indeed keep silent on the matter of sexuality and I kept my vow of celibacy.

    This is a bit difficult as I could be rather drawn out about my story. Maybe I want to be, maybe I should be, though do I want to do it here and now? Maybe not. It's too bogged down. I at least wanted to make the point that I have been pretty much celibate (in practice though not in feeling) for all but three days of my life anyway. I don't want some rumor or impression to float around that I used to be some floosy when the reality is that I have basically always been alone. The thought of people making up such things really annoys me. But... I know I cannot get bogged down here. At least, not now.

    So, a good enough summary, perhaps. As I said, I did keep silent on the matter. I met this woman shortly after I stopped writing in mid-2017 and I never told her about how I felt nor any kind of history of my feelings. However, in the final months my internal conflict surmounted to a point where I wanted to resolve the situation one way or another. Perhaps I should have just told the truth. But, I did not make a clear decision. Instead, my feelings became somewhat apparent through an argument which followed a decision that I might not have made if I was not so conflicted, hence my saying that I "semi-deliberately sabotaged" the situation. She asked me, "What would you do [right now] if I did not exist?" I responded, "I might not have done this [in the first place]." Silence followed and I've always presumed that is the moment in which she knew. I furthered my undoing through other decisions in the following weeks and then she finally told me to get lost. I initially put up resistance but within 24 hours I could not help but feel incredibly liberated. I was liberated from scheming, hiding, and lying. I was liberated from my own meanness and trying to take things. The internal conflict did not totally go away but at least the prospect of "getting" her was over. I could live in the light of day now. Within two days of our final conversation I started running much faster than usual and from there I started to do the best running of my life, mainly because I felt free from petty material concerns and could now enjoy the true and unlimited bounds of my soul.

    I never spoke with her about spiritual ideas and maybe that is sorriest of all. After I stopped writing in mid-2017 I no longer wanted to do any kind of preaching nor did I want to have any more conversations where I and the other person seemingly could not be on the same page. I largely did not want to speak about spiritual matters with people. Now, after she left I thought about spiritual matters more than ever, although I still did not talk to anyone about them. The blessing she left me with is clarity regarding what I truly believe in, and this is captured in the spiritual war between the economic conception of life and the life-centered worldview. It was in the time after her departure that these two opposing worldviews showed themselves and were defined in my mind. I knew that in my situation with her I had gotten dragged somewhat into the economic conception of life and that I had to defeat that within myself. This may mean, in part, not being overattached to certain material ideas and instead following the current of upward ascension which can be sensed. This is the basic conflict I had at the race and at the end the spiritual conception of life prevailed, I accepted the role of my feelings, I felt the bounds of my heart and soul, and in the final three laps I realized my highest potential at that particular point in time.

    My overall interest with all the matters at hand regards what is truly needed. Since the August 2018 race I have risen to the height of my abilities thus far, having reached the 100-mile mark in one sitting three times in a five-month span, and I then destroyed myself, first through a series of accidents in a zealous race where I put power first before heart after weeks of ugly internal conflict, and decaying steadily from there-- not wholesale but certainly regarding my health and sanity.

    The idea of choosing the intrinsic over the extrinsic- that is, heart over power- was not new to me in mid-2018. In mid-2015 I wrote a book titled, What is a Real Life?, and in that book I explained how the idea ended my depression when I was 16, in mid-2013. The redeeming thought was along the following lines: it was not that the world that was dragging me down but that I had given up. So, the question is whether I "sold out" when I stopped writing in mid-2017 and when I injured myself in mid-2019. In other words, did I lose touch with what I believe and if so why? To an extent I did lose touch with my heart. I lose heart whenever things appear to be irretrievably lost. In mid-2017 I feared that, given my feelings, I would never be in line with the nature-centered ideal which was becoming more prominent to me. I have never really stopped facing this conflict as it regards my sexual expression, my lifestyle, my abilities, and, ultimately, every single choice that I make. The desire is for it all to be in line with the highest standards as set by nature. So, in mid-2019 I faced not only this same problem but also the rift between the economic worldview and the life-centered worldview became more apparent and I feared that heart was not enough to win the spiritual war. It turns out that heart is not just "enough" but is necessary to win.
    I have said many times that it seems like all I can do is talk about things, not in an attempt to solve any problem but to just state the truth. So, that is what I am doing and have done. My faith is in the idea that I can live openly in my dreams and sorrows and thereby form some kind of unity of consciousness with others. "Others" basically includes all things, as it should though the specific connection with each thing will be different.

    I believe the primary purpose of my feelings (at least now) is to keep my attention on the point. While acknowledging this brings me to a decent level of peace with my feelings, this peace does not rescue me from the question of what I am to be, and the answer affects how I precisely feel. I sometimes fear I find attraction to a feminine grace which I arguably should have but do not demonstrate much if at all. I have wondered whether the point of all this is the prospect that if you want to protect innocence then you yourself cannot be innocent. But, isn't that just a rationalization of imperfection? Moreover, does it not contradict heart? Or, not necessarily? Whatever the case, the Earth is being degraded and, though perfect, it cannot protect itself. If love is the force that shapes you for your destiny, what is love trying to shape me into? A human embodiment of the limitless love of Mother Nature? Her sweet, innocent child? A fighter in the name of these things? All three at once? Or, something else? The question no longer regards heart in itself but what specifically it entails and demands. I have dealt with many dark doubts over the years and I have been sustained by a faith that I will ultimately be shaped into something worthy and, above all, complete.