Sunday, December 09, 2007

Falling in Love Again (Marlene Dietrich Was Right)

Note: This was a song made famous by Marlene Dietrich, and originally featured during her performance in the movie Der Blaue Engel (English translation: The Blue Angel). It's pretty much the theme here.

If the video doesn't work, you can check out the Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIcW6luYRPY

Marlene Dietrich was right.

It happens all the time. Near the end of every season. Past the big race of the year. After all the training.

You'll feel it, in the middle of a workout, when you're slogging through the miles in mind-numbing monotony, in the drudgery of yet another set of hours in sweat and pain. You'll feel it, chewing emptily over a plate of food, contemplating the prospect of the training schedule and roster of races. You'll feel it, crawling wearily into evening bed, dreading the thought of being woken up by the crack of the alarm in the darkness of a cold autumn morning with nothing more the promise of another slate of workouts repeating your daily cycle yet again, when all you really want to do is to stay warm and snuggled under the sheets in your bed.

You'll feel it. The dejection. The jadedness. The burnout.

You'll try to push it off. You'll mix things up, adjust the workouts and the races, and try and break out of the cycle.

But for some reason, it won't make any difference. It will all just remain the same...Stale. Hollow. Empty.

And you'll start to question yourself. And wonder about everything you're doing. And sometimes, when things start to get really bad, you'll think to yourself: You used to love this sport. But now? Maybe not so much any more.

In desperation, you'll sign up for a race you hadn't planned on, with no training you've really organized. Just a random race, to get out of the house--really to get out of your mind. As in to just get out. No reason, no purpose, no goal. Not even anything really that important. Just a handful of time out in the air and the light and somewhere anywhere anyhow away from what were doing before.

And that's when something special happens.

You'll be in the middle of a crowd, running along the race course, surrounded by people in all manner of accoutrements and attire in all shapes and sizes in all states of physical exertion. There'll be people with baby strollers. People in Santa costumes. Families huddling in groups. Couples holding hands. Kids barely old enough to walk. Adults struggling to get under 300 pounds. Some struggling between a run and a walk. Some gasping as if they were taking their last breaths of air. Many looking nothing at all like seasoned athletes, nor even anything close to the pros up ahead already crossing the finish line.

Somewhere in the midst of this bizarre carnival, you'll suddenly look around, check each person out, maybe even talk to a few. You'll listen to their stories, hear what they have to say, share a few words of your own together.

And you'll find there are people here who have never done anything like this before. People just starting. People just figuring things out. People who just began on the path that you all are on now. People feeling fear and uncertainty and trepidation, but full of curiosity and courage and thrill and excitement and a desire to see what is around the corner up ahead...and they're happy.

And you'll learn that for them this race, and everything associated with it, is a new adventure of mystery and wonder and discovery. It's an exploration into strange unknowns both mystical and magical. It's about a journey through places not traveled before--in the self, in others, in the world.

And you'll realize that what is really happening is something that has happened before to everyone who has ever entered this sport, and is about something ultimately much deeper.

It's not about training. It's not about racing. It's not about personal bests, qualifying slots, or podium places. It's not even about competition or athletics at all.

In truth, it's about people coming to revelations about themselves and what they can do, and in so doing coming to an understanding of their place in the universe, the ways we can go about living, and what it means for all of us--each of us--to be alive.

It's about becoming a better person.

It's about enlightenment.

And that's when you'll remember this was what pulled you into the sport. This was what made it so special.

And that's when you'll know it still is.

And that's when you'll think to yourself: You. Love. This. Sport.

Falling in love again,
Never wanted to. What am I to do?
Can't help it.
Love's always been my game.
Play it how I may, I was made that way.
Can't help it.
--Falling In Love Again (performed by Marlene Dietrich), Fredrick Hollander & Sammy Lerner

2 comments:

A - Low said...

Awesome blog. I hear you loud and clear, and your articulate the race environment succinctly and accurately.

Andy said...

Dude, seriously. I commend you for being active, for running and enjoying life. But do you really have to act like such a douchbag about it? I'm glad you know the meaning of really cool and awesome words like accoutrements and trepidation, but would it be possible for you to run, make a connection with your fellow human beings, and then just shut the f*** up about it because there's nothing actually that special about running with other people? Do you think that maybe, you could just express your feelings of enjoyment about your experience without acting like you are the first person to ever run in a group of people? You might want to consider your audience, and assume that the people reading your blog might have an IQ above 7, and understand basic human emotions. If you seriously think that you are the first person who has felt a profound connection with the world and the people in it whilst participating in a long distance run, then you are truly wasting your own time, along with anyone else's time unfortunate enough to read your pointless drivel. You might be a very insightful person, and I don't know you, so I'm in no position to make such a judgment, but there's nothing "mystical and magical" about running. It's not "about enlightenment" as you claim. It's just running. I enjoy running very much as well, it is true that running several miles is quite enjoyable, and it makes a person feel energized. But that doesn't mean you have to act like you're running next to Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Oprah, or any other deity. You can run and still act like a normal person. I truly hope that you can get past your strange ego issues and lead a normal life in the future.

Sincerely,
Your Friend