Sunday, January 4, 2015

Woods, Visions, Sons, Kings, Runs

There were sheep in the woods. Right next to the road on Baileys Neck on Christmas Eve. Big Foot might have been there as well, but daughter Anna couldn't catch him in the photo. We stopped along the road and did a double-take. This particular stretch of woods, I run by on three sides on one of my running routes and drive by everyday. I haven't seen them there before or since. Maybe it was a Christmas miracle.

The first weekend of the New Year has been a reclusive one for me. I got out of my truck with groceries on Thursday and won't get back in a vehicle until Monday morning, to take the girls to school. It has been me, running, lifting, yoga, reading, coffee, a couple meals, reading, writing, cooking out with my dad for the Ravens game, and binge-watching Sons of Anarchy.

Sunday (this) afternoon, I wanted to stretch the legs and the soul, so through on running shoes and went for a back road 6-mile run, running by the sheep hallucination woods along the way.

Running clears my mind as much as it does anything for my body. There is a stillwater pond at the corner of the sheep woods, more tranquil and likely more stagnant than my mind on a run. I was feeling good, but still slowed to take it in. Up the road 50 yards or so was a hawk feeding on a deer carcass in a ditch. I know hawks and buzzards--the buzzard came in after I startled the hawk. I stopped again, this time playing chess with the hawk in the trees--he made one hop as I moved closer, I tried to keep from spooking him, just to watch him.

I got back to normal running pace, focused back in on my music, zoned out scanning the woods for sheep or hawks, when I scared a heron out of the ditch just ahead. If you've read along just a little here, you know I have a thing for herons. Spirit animal typed thing. Nothing major. But I took my cue from the Universe here to slow down and walk a stretch, not be in so much of a hurry, even though everything felt good. Heart rate was up, back covered in sweat, slowed down to walk the road along open fields and listen.

I got thinking about Sons of Anarchy, storytelling and Jungian archetypes, and life.

I've written about SOA here before. Among other things, Sons is the story of Jax Teller, the son of one of the founders and former Presidents of the Samcro Motorcycle Club. It's the story of him as Vice President, struggling with his father's legacy and the man who has helped raise him since Jax's father's death. This stepfather figure is the President of the club, who took over after Jack's father died. I give you all this to say that part of the storyline is the story of the prince becoming the king. I dig Carl Jung. Archetypes and myths factor into my thinking and the way I view storytelling.

To some degree, I think the story of every man's coming of age is dealing with, the struggle with that transformation of going from prince to king. Jungian psychologist Robert Moore and mythologist Douglas Gillette say that there are four archetypal male energies that are in all of us XY folk: king, warrior, lover, magician. They wrote a book about it that a lot of people seem to dig. The king archetype is the most important and generally the last to develop in the personality.

When you hit 42 years old, lose a job that was the result of 15 years of moving in a solid career direction, and wonder about work, vocation, passion, what direction you want your life to go, there is no shortage of shit that can occupy space in your head. I don't have ready answers, but occasional vacancy in my head, you bet.

It seems to me the struggle, to become and embody the king, that isn't something that happens like childbirth and there you are. Perhaps more often than each day, the boulder rolls back down the hill and you have to go get that fu**er and roll it back up again. It's not just given to you, you have to manifest it. You've got to own that shit.

Father and son relationships are some of the coolest, strangest things on the planet. I've been asked more than once why I am not an accountant like my father. In my mind it's a bit like asking why I am not an NFL offensive lineman: because I am not, it's not how I am wired or built. But the two of us can sit around a family dinner table and spin stories with the same humor and the same outlook on life, and we can watch the Ravens play and scream the same profanities at the television.

Life, visions, the Universe, archetypes, they are spinning through my head like a slot machine. I speed up, get back to running. I come back by the deer carcass and the stagnant pond. Jane's Addiction's "Mountain Song" comes on. I drop the hammer coming up Locust Grove, decide to run hard through the end of the song. I pass a blue Volvo, the drive waves, I wave back, but I have to think he is wondering what the vagabond in the red ski hat and green shorts is running so fast for--likely running from the cops.

I hang on redlining as the song comes to an end, looking forward to a slower interval. But it's Damian Marley's "Move" that cues up next. Another song I can't run slowly to. I shake my head, laugh out loud, mumble, "Motherfu**er!" and try to hold the pace. "Exodus" was the first Bob Marley song I ever heard. Still one of my favorites. "Move" is Damian reworking the chorus of his father's song, but making it his own. I get thinking about that as way of building on a father's legacy. As much as I dig the song for running, it also can't touch "Exodus" as a song, so what does that mean for a legacy? All Bob's musician sons will be forever in his shadow.

I don't give it much thought because I am trying to follow Damian's advice and move. I wind around a couple of bends. Maybe Junior Gong has a set of stones to dare to try to follow in his father's musical footsteps. He is wired for it. He is not a pioneer, but I listen to him all the time.

Generally, the home stretch of the run is where I run hardest. I like to finish spent. Today's run has been different--there were stops, walking stretches, intervals. As I get to where I can see the driveway, Katastro's "That Place You Know" comes on. I have no idea why, but this song makes me unreasonably happy and at peace. It makes me smile. Today it puts my mind to park benches, Newman and Redford in "The Sting," mix tapes and kindness. I ease the throttle, to run in light. Katastro aren't the deepest dudes, and the song isn't memorable so much for its lyrics, but its vibe. But still I hear this:

Back to the place you know
where all you have to do is come this way
Back to the way you run,
And I'm just gonna let you know
that I'ma be here and do my thing
that's just the way I know.

That's just the way I know.

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