Saturday, December 6, 2014

Things that make you go hhmmm...

Monk: What happens when the leaves are falling, and the trees bare?

Ummon: The golden wind, revealed!

- Hegikan Roku (The Blue Cliff Records, via Peter Matthiessen, "The Snow Leopard")

Life has a funny way of showing you things. Things that maybe at first you'd rather not see, hear, think about or experience. But that end up with you being exactly where you need to be, when you need to be there.

As Peter Matthiessen and his crew turn their trek through the Himalayas from westward to northward, he cites the quote above. It's kind of a sky is falling moment. Shit, what do we do? What happens when the last of the leaves have fallen? Chill. That's when we find out what's really there, underneath.

Oh. Okay. Cool.

If I ever write a proper book, it will be non-fiction, extended memoir, something, not a novel. And I hope I can bring even a fraction of what Matthiessen does to the table, in his ability to tell a razor wire tight/taut story, and then go for pages talking about cosmology, and how modern science and ancient Eastern philosophy are saying the same things about the nature of the Universe, and keep your attention rapt in doing so, not make you mad that the travel narrative has taken a tangent:

Today most scientists would agree with the ancient Hindus that nothing exists or is destroyed, things merely change shape or form; that matter is insubstantial in origin, a temporary aggregate of the pervasive energy that animates the electron.

When I was at N.C. State, a friend of ours married a girl who went to a nearby all girls college in Raleigh. She was Samoan; her cousin played nose tackle for State and went on to play for a time for the Detroit Lions. He was a beast. She was a self-proclaimed witch (let's call her a good witch). A number of us went to their engagement party and I don't know that I have ever unexpectedly laughed so hard, at these giant Samoan dudes, who could rip your limbs off, engaged in side-splittingly hilarious "your mama" joke one-ups-manship. Random and fantastic. My roommate and I quoted them for weeks.

We hung with our friend and the Samoan witch for a while, until they dropped out of school and seemed to drop off the face of the earth. One night on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, she was reading palms. Why not?

She told me some of the basic stuff you'd hope to hear: long life; two and a half children (have two girls and a miscarriage, so maybe that's what that was?); and an active love line. She said that the love of my life would be someone who I knew first as a friend, then wouldn't talk to for some time, fall out of touch, and then would reconnect with later.

I can't say I have given that a lot of thought, other than to play it back in my head a few times here and there any wonder about it and file it back under the C & C Music Factory mental category of "Things that make you go hhmmmm..." At the least, great cocktail party fodder to be able to say that you've had your palm read by a Samoan witch (self-proclaimed).

This fall hasn't been my most active time for running. But it's been better than it has been in a few years. I guess 2008 to 2010-ish were the heyday for the Rise Up Runners in terms of how often we ran and raced and got together. But as I've said on here before, so much of that group is about the camaraderie, the goofy challenges, the eccentric friendships and connections.

 In September, a friend turned 40. It happens to the best of us. Instead of a party, he challenged us: swim 0.4 miles, bike 40 km, run 4 miles, and to officially finish, you must have finished a 40oz of beer or malt liquor. The 40Tri (copyrighted ;). That event was a blast.

We then threw out a schedule that asked those who were game to complete a race on the Eastern Shore, each month, from Sept. to Dec.: 4 MONTHS, 4 RACES, 4 SHORE. The 40TRI. The Horn Point Spat Dash in Cambridge. The Chester River Challenge Half-Marathon and 5K in Chestertown or the Across the Bay 10K, and this month, the Pain in the Neck 50K in Cambridge.

The goal was not to finish the races per se, but to get the band back together. To run, to hang, to train, to push each other with ridiculous challenges.

Today is the Pain in the Neck, the last leg. A friend from N.C. State who lives in Delaware is coming over for it. It's a 5K loop, that runners can run up to 10 times. It is going to be in the 40s to 50 degrees and rainy. A bunch of fools running circles in the woods in December.

Yep, file that under the same C&C Music Factory mental category: Things that make you go hhmmm...

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