Learning is a word I try not to use lightly. In my mind it is related to philosophy, which gave rise to the sciences and had valuable words for the arts. Classical philosophy had for its aim the good life and contains plenty of values we equate today with character building. (The things that character builds on a run - "call for comments"! - I quote irunfar, which ends posts that way, love that.)
That philosophy, and approach to life, was still very much practiced by Victorian educators and thinkers. One of my favourites, who founded what is today the outdoor survival camp Outward Bound, Kurt Hahn, wrote: "Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognized to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner skepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the world..."
I like to think that running is my training camp in miniature for all of that: training me to tolerate hardship, inner skepticism (and mockery from the world for us beginner runners whose form might still not be all that!)
But the kinds of hardships encountered in running - even in my 15-month return to it this time - includes such a variety of sources for something that is so curiously still rewarding. Without stating the obvious ones, I'll just go straight to my recent disappointment.
Recent ultra posts also confirmed to me that there is a culture, and I wonder at it. For example, much is said against bragging, but what of the baby-steps pride we beginners feel when we consistently hit 60-mile weeks? With two taxing jobs, that can seem like a feat.
Also, how can a person be initiated into that culture - but in a smart way, how does one even meet trail runners if one lives an hour from the mountains? Especially as I am an expat where I live, I would not feel very safe running around unknown forest paths on my own.
But I long to be on the trails because of missing nature: what just a few views can do to refresh the mind - how thinking back to being a pygmy among trees brings feelings of safety, awe, and hope in growth - inspiring otherwise darker moments. I also long to start to try for longer distances, because I feel that I have the stamina for that kind of thing, but I also know sometimes I am wrong about myself, and I would like to know. Gnothi seauton, know thyself - was the message outside the temple at Delphi.
"Grow to be what you are" is another one of Kurt Hahn's maxims. I really hope that I will get to grow over unpaved distance, but at the moment, I am still looking for my inroad to that out.
Brush: Ewansim via Deviantart.