Friday, January 22, 2010


I was running along the Strand, the river, in Oxford, watching a plane fly over. Something about how I saw it--the act of perception--stuck with me and played out over the remaining miles to be a central thought in a philosophy paper I was writing at Washington College. I don't remember whether the paper was about Locke and Hume and idealism or Aristotle's metaphysics, but I remember coming inside, short-breathed and jotting down thoughts so I wouldn't forget.

I didn't bust my ass running that day and don't normally, but I completely understand the adage that Heraclitus (an old school Greek philosopher before Socrates--pronounced SOE-CRATES like Bill and Ted's) was known to step into a well for looking at the stars while he walked.

I think we know when we find those activities/engagements/passions that are inspiring and life affirming for us. Running and philosophy have always been two of those passions for me; those things that seem to pull and charge every aspect of my being.

I remember lying back on my bed at 14 or 15 and looking at the walls and ceilings of my room, which were invisible beneath 100+ posters and pages cut out of skateboarding magazines. Skateboarding defined my life and was my most active pursuit for a number of formative years. And that day, in my room, I was thinking how cool it would be to be still skating in my 30s, 40s, 50s. To not lose touch with who I was in the world at that time. So there's skateboarding.

We've gone over the advent of poetry and writing here, with history class and Carl Sandburg, saying simply now that writing and poetry more than meet the criteria.

When our daughter Anna was born, her left arm was a little slow to get moving. The doctors weren't overly concerned--this can happen to a C-Section born baby--but they noted it, and I went with them as they rolled her down the hospital hallway into a room to check her vitals and her arm. She didn't care for being prodded and was screaming (those who know her can attest to her lung capacity) over the doctors and nurses, until I talked to calm her. When I spoke she fell immediately quiet and moved her head and unfocusing eyes toward my voice. She stayed quiet while I spoke and the nurse commented that she knew and responded to my voice (read to your babies in bellies). Homegirl (Anna, not the nurse) had the keys to the car from there. I knew from that second, and holding her looking out our hospital room window that night as she slept that there was nothing cooler than being a dad. I've thought so countless times since.

If you read Gary Snyder you know his fascination with the "tribe." Those folks who seek you out and you seek out to surround yourself with and grow tight with who are like you. I've been a tribesman for some time. For seeking out the other kids in a small town. For making your way through school and being rooted in a place like the Eastern Shore. For finding that crew at boarding school or college. And since living and working in Easton, I've found that same step with the Rise Up Runners, who have shaped my life now in so many ways beyond just running. With writers' groups that seem to come together organically. With a beer club recently begot. Given time and being open and responsive, groups or tribes of kinsmen and kinswomen of people like me (like you) seem to come together of their own accord. The "Field of Dreams" build it and they will come idea, maybe.

So that's my spewing, semi-articulate rant of some of those things/activities/passions that are life affirming for me. Running, philosophy, skateboarding, writing and poetry, being a dad, finding and hanging with tribes. What are they for you?

No comments: