I often experience deep thoughts while running. Today’s were of a theological nature. I was reflecting on the wonder I feel while in the great outdoors. How the power of creation is most relevant and real to me pondering the veins of a leaf or the curious disposition of a squirrel or a bird. For me personally, God is not on the pages of an ancient text written by an imperfect human, but God is in the warmth of the sun on my shoulders, the soft breeze that cools the sweat from my brow, the trees that loom high overhead and the animals who scurry hither and yon.
So what is with this waxing spiritual while running? Some say there is such a thing as a runner’s high. Perhaps, if you want to equate the elation one feels with a drug, I suppose you could say that. What exactly is a high…a buzz, a state of altered consciousness, a spiritual experience? Certainly some Native American tribes used to take peyote to go on a vision quest, to have an out of body or spiritual experience. Is that what running does? Am I too much in my body or too much in my mind when I run? That depends. The first mile or two, I’m always in my body, with the aches and pains, trying regulate my breath, trying to focus on my pace or my gait. By mile three, I could give a shit about my body; I’m lost in thought. Still breathing, still moving, but those things are secondary to what is going on in my head. But I am present, I am grounded, this is real. Not something on the ethereal plane. Yet it puts me in that environment. Surrounded by trees magically growing imperceptible amounts with only sunlight as food; they are mystical giants. Strange little winged creatures that fly, covered in feathers, this must be a fantasy. Purple thistles that flower with a fluorescence only possible in high def, this can’t be real in the virtual desert.
Call it transcendence, call it heat stroke, call it what you will. Running is the vehicle that takes me off the city streets and deposits me in nature. In nature, this is where I connect with my spirit. This is how I know I am more than just flesh, bone, and muscle. Moving with the aid of my body through space, my mind as the captain; my true self thrives.