Submission to Duty

February 8 2020, 12:26AM

I must get to sleep so I cannot deliberate too much here.

In about 9 hours I will start the Beast of Burden 100 mile race. This was the first 100 mile race I attempted, in 2015, and the first one I finished, in 2019. Last year, at the time the race came around, my heart was very much in it-- so much so that it was the best race of my life (out of about 380 total in the last 11 years). This year I have been having more problems going into the race and, more importantly, I am not sure I am as aligned with it. Lately I have been feeling that racing is too artificial and unnatural, and it also is not a fair use of resources. It does what humans overwhelmingly do best these days, which is burn up, burn up, burn up-- burn up resources, burn up the environment, burn up themselves, keep the heat on high. Coolness and subtlety are lacking.

However, recently I also have reconnected somewhat with Hindu texts, which I've gradually become interested in over the last 5 years. The Bhagavad-gita emphasizes that a devotee is to keep his consciousness focused on the Lord and perform his duty with no attachment to the result. The point is made when it* says that by not participating in the battle at hand, the warrior Arjuna was actually being attached to the result, rather than carrying out his duty with detachment. Putting on the mere appearance of peace was not necessarily his destiny.

I do not believe that I "fell into" running races by accident. Somehow it has been my duty for the last decade, even though there is not any apparent obligation for me to do so. Not just running but racing has been the primary medium by which I develop as a person, experience ideas, and perhaps even express myself. Even though it would make more sense to me as an organism to walk through untainted woods, it seems that I cannot give this up. At hand is something larger than a feeling: perhaps it is an inevitability, or perhaps the source of all accurate feeling. The inevitability is that the 100 mile race has become my duty. Whatever is my state of health, the logistical complication, or my objection, I am to perform my duty with detachment. Racing is my duty because it both establishes and illuminates the truth of all else.

At present I am undergoing both an important and urgent consideration of how I am to be in this world (though that never really goes away). My ultimate ideal is to defy the downward decay of time. I believe the qualities needed for this are innocence, vulnerability, transparency, and closeness to Nature. At the same time there must be no pressure, strife, scrutiny, nor any negative mental conditions present. Somehow I must do things as peacefully as possible, at least within myself. I think one major change I must make within myself now is to become softer. Talking and reasoning are very "hard" compared to intuition and listening, hence the term "hard-headed." When analysis is used in an attempt to cleverly take control of the game and mitigate uncertainty, one has all the grace of falling down stairs. That is arguably why I took such hard falls in 2019 that my knees have been calcified (swollen) for the last 6 months (however, it might be unfair to talk about that in such an incomplete context as this). I must heal, and the way I will do that is by becoming what I am destined to be, since being in a certain (relatively antithetical) way is how I got hurt in the first place. I am accustomed to feeling constant time pressure when I race-- especially at ultramarathons (I generally fare better at achieving timeless consciousness in shorter races like 5Ks and 10Ks). So, I feel that at this time I must become supple in mind and by extension in body. I am not to move forward by burning up the pavement (or, rather, the snow, in this case).

Overall, a kind of darkness descends. Life has become bloated with much that did not ever have to be there, but it is here now. As much as I might want to retreat into virgin nature, there is no escape. I must put my boots on and run because the expression and self-realization achieved through racing, which for me has always been the highest coming together of all things, is the only way that I will heal. It takes an act of extreme faith in order to reverse the physical effects of being in a way which is antithetical to one's destiny. I will have to do things differently this time, taking care to either purge all that is not needed from the experience or transform it in a way which is life-restoring.

I am technically the defending (women's) champion of this race. From timeless consciousness I am inclined to say it does not matter. Alas, I am relegated to this colisseum. For my body there is no escape: it must perform its duty in the present point of time. All I can ask of myself, then, is that I keep my mind on God.