Friday, July 1, 2011

Mornings, Sunlight, and Growing Pains

Been enjoying these lately (mornings, that is). I recently bought a bug net for my hammock and have it set up next to Long Pond, where I can watch the sunrise from my bug-free sanctuary, sway in the wind, and listen to Bon Iver's new self-titled album (incredible!) before strapping on running shoes and setting off for a short run. This whole process seems to make the rest of the day that much better, and by the time 9pm (woah!) rolls around, I am completely knackered and ready for bed again. Sometimes I even throw in an afternoon nap (I mean, when you get up at 4:30am, by the time lunch rolls around you've already been up for 7.5 hours!). In any case, it is a habit I aim to continue.

There is also something beautiful about living with the rhythm of the sun (related perhaps, to circadian rhythms). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy darkness and stars and all of that jazz, but when it comes right down to it, I'm more of a sunlight kind of guy (which is obviously why I decide to live in places like Portland, Oregon, and the North Woods of Maine...sigh).

I am typically the one thrumming with incredible amounts of energy on the hottest days of the year, and go out for long bike rides and runs while everyone else is laying on beach towels or sucking down AC. Sometimes, in the midst of serious dehydration and the realization that I didn't bring nearly enough water, I mildly regret these sunlight-inspired decisions - but in reality, that moment is the spark of adventure.

After all, I don't go running because it's easy, fun, and great for fitness (though those reasons are certainly part of it). Instead, I run because it is difficult and takes a great amount of work and dedication. In pushing myself past supposed boundaries (created in the realms of the social, psychological, physical, corporate, and historical) and redefining what is possible (if only for myself) there is amazing growth: in my cardiovascular and muscular systems, and more importantly, my mind. Sure, there is pain involved, but as Roosevelt once said: "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty...I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."

In the end, I resonate most with Emile Durkheim's words, that pain is "a state of grace to be sought after...because of the powers and privileges it confers." Though difficult to see at the time, the pain we face is both inevitable and necessary to our growth as human beings - much like our physical body which needs to be broken down in order to grow back stronger and adapt to the new demands we place on it during physical activity.

So, may your mornings be filled with sunlight and pain? Not exactly. But perhaps, in the midst of our day-to-day rhythms, we can see the pain we face as a chance to grow and reveal the dynamic self in the midst of a tragically beautiful world. See you on the trails...

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