Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Running In The Rain:

An Analogy

Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 5, 2020

"You've never felt the rain my friend, 'til you've felt it running down your back." ... Paul McCartney, Mamunia

"Let it rain! Who cares? I've a train upstairs." ... A A Milne, The Train
This essay, Running In The Rain: An Analogy, is the companion piece to

Who woulda thunk  the simple act of going for a run outside at sunrise would have become a special luxury?

In these astounding days of social distancing, self-quarantine and isolation have become de rigueur. I can't ignore the dramatic, degrading effects of denying my body natural exercise: walking around the village, carrying boxes and bags to and from my car, going shopping and traipsing around the supermarket aisles looking for the produce on my provisions list. The gym and swimming pool closed. When those outlets for exercise shut, I needed to become innovative in the interests of health. I've begun practicing yoga again in Cowboy Cottage. I've added other floor exercises too to my daily regimen. Hiking and running are also outlets for me. The long hikes I take around the adjacent hundreds of acres of cattle pasture (with its owners' permission) afford me valuable time for reflection, consideration, inquiry, as well as the simple, pure benefit of a good, wholesome, outdoor aerobic boost. For us here in this valley in which we live, we have a choice: the luxury to exercise outside, or not.

People I know in other places like South Africa, aren't so fortunate. There the lockdown is so inclusive that even going outside for walks is banned, exceptions allowed only for trips to food stores and doctors' consulting rooms. When I speak with friends and family there, I recreate that guy in New York City who has the twenty three foot wide balcony. He runs up and down its width, up and down, up and down ... until he's run a marathon - some twenty six miles. You can do that if you have time to do it - and what else is there that we have plenty of in a lockdown except time? There's no excuse. That guy in New York City has inspired more than a few people in South Africa who now walk and jog around their back yards' perimeters, around and around, around and around, getting much essential if not unorthodox exercise.

So as I kneel, lacing my Brooks Transcend 5  running shoes, I'm well aware of the special luxury it is to be able to head out for a run through the quiet lanes of my country neighborhood - which ordinarily is nothing special. Special?  To go for a run?  Who woulda thunk? Then, just as I close the door behind me, it starts raining.

My first thought is "Oh no!", and I turn to go back inside ... then my own word, speaking louder than that thought, says "We said we were going for a run Laurence, yes?". "Yes" I agree, turning again, down Hillside Drive, the rain cascading onto my face, running in rivulets over my cheeks, down my neck, and into my T-shirt collar.

At first, it's a distraction - not to mention very cold and wet. Then as I pick up speed I notice it's less and less of a distraction: it's just rain. I play with this distinction: "I'm running but it's raining" - now it's a distraction; "I'm running and  it's raining" - now it's no longer a distraction: it's just what's happening. Soon, as my heartrate rises and my body starts warming up, it's no longer cold either: it's just raining. There's nothing personal about the rain or its temperature. The rain is actually cooling, cleansing, soothing, refreshing, not to mention it's an incredible gift  to all us Californians in our drought, none of which I notice when I let myself be distracted by it.

Then I notice something else, something I'm wowed by: it's all circumstances. The rain? The cold and the wet? They're all just circumstances! And I can run with the circumstances, yet regardless of them. What a model! My word is "I'll run" not "I'll run if it isn't raining" nor "I'll run if it's not cold": it's just "I'll run.". Wowed, I notice that's exactly what's happening. My shoes are splashing in and out of puddles. My T-shirt, shorts, and socks are sodden, dripping wet, clinging to my skin. On another occasion, those would have been good reasons to stop, or to not start at all in the first place. Today there's just running ... and the rain ... and my word in the matter.

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