I’m starting to think about MdS as a restful vacation with a bit running thrown in. I’m not underestimating the desert...
Fifty percent and pain and the point of running long.Liza
Asa came rushing into the kitchen yesterday in his underwear saying, “Guys! You’ve got to see this!!” I’d only had one cup of coffee, and I don’t know what I thought was coming next, but I was pretty relieved he just wanted to show off the size of a bruise on his thigh. He’d whacked his leg getting out of the car the day before. I’m not sure what he whacked it on; When he started hollering, I was entirely focused on trying to remember that quote about appreciating pain as I moved my thighs out of the minivan.
“One could say that life is at least 50 percent pain. If we do not relate to pain, we are not relating to half our life. … When we are able to work with pain and understand it, life becomes twice as interesting. Relating to pain makes us more fearless and happy.”
– Sakyong Mipham, Running With the Mind of Meditation
You know I started this post yesterday and I was all set to write some self-depricating humorous sentences about pain, and 50% of Rocky, and carrying around a fussy, teething, drooling baby in my arms for seven hours straight etc. etc., — and then I found out a sweet friend of mine had a miscarriage.
“Life is at least 50 percent pain.”
“Relating to pain makes us more fearless and happy.”
My friend is already fearless and happy.
“[L]ife becomes twice as interesting.”
When my life disintegrated over a decade ago, I wrote a group of NOLS friends for comfort. One of them, an African from Tanzania, told me to make sure to drink water. Reading his email, I almost smiled. What a useless thing to advise someone in my situation. And yet, in retrospect, it’s as good advice as any. Words don’t fix anything. They don’t soothe a loss. There is nothing that can be said and nothing that can be done.
You simply keep living, and you try to make peace with the pain.
The only real use of running ultramarathons is that they allow us to practice endurance. They ask us to tolerate adversity and uncertainty. We keep moving forward despite physical and emotional pain. And we hope the exercise gives us the grace and fortitude to do the same through life’s actual trials.
My friend is an ultrarunner. She was full of fortitude, perseverance, courageousness and grace before she was an ultrarunner. Still, I hope the constant practice helps her in the coming days, weeks, months and years.