huff on high

He can never set foot in the bronze heavens; but whatever splendor we mortals can attain, he reaches the limit of that voyage. Neither by ship nor on foot could you find the marvellous road to the meeting-place of the Hyperboreans   (Pindar Pythian 10)
The Hyperboreans lived beyond the north wind. Pindar's lines seem to take us to that mythical place: the "limit of the voyage" that can be reached "neither by ship nor foot" is the road that reaches the meeting place of the Hyperboreans - a road through words that follows the wind.
I felt like I was on one such road on yesterday's run. It is really quite something to have a meaningful interaction with something for two hours that is invisible! It was so exhausting, I could not run all the way home, which is a foreign experience. So I read up about that wind that exerted my breath, aided by the Beaufort Scale that describes winds in words of their effects - and realised I had been out in gale force gusts (>80km/hr - actually, a belated forecast told me so).
The poetic moment was watching a kiteboarder reel in those forces into dance, just like what Plato wrote in Laws about ideal physical activity "useful both in peace and war alike": agility and beauty ... securing for the various parts and members of the body the proper degree of flexibility and extension and bestowing also the rhythmical motion. 
Of course, I was not poetic and am still not rhythmical, and after contending with that wind began to trundle more than glide. [I have temporarily given up on landing on my forefoot because of Pain, and am focusing on arm swing because Google says footstrike should follow with good arm swing (e.g. here).] In other words, I still don't know what I am doing and am sure glad Plato can't see me!
Sometimes it is Pindar more than Plato who soothes me.
But the winds are changeable that blow on high. The prosperity of men does not stay secure for long, when it follows weighing upon them in abundance. I will be small when my fortunes are small, great when they are great. I will honor in my mind the fortune that attends me from day to day, tending it to the best of my ability. (Pindar Pythian 3)
The wind is compared to prosperity[1]: prosperity is like a wind, and when it comes, the wise man knows how to make use of it (rather like the kiteboarder!) Also in those lines, though, is space for a small person with small [running - and misc.!] fortunes like me.
I am also comforted by Pindar in another sense: he uses words to make up for what natural law makes impossible[1] (just as we travel to meet the Hyperboreans in Pythian 10). That is what he has in his ability. I do not know if running is within my ability. Or writing, for that matter! But I am consoled with the knowledge that I do tend to fortune "to the best of my ability".
In case anyone is interested in the progress of my self-knowledge as runner, a friend filmed me on Sunday, and I saw my right arm flapping out a little with every stride, a little like I was putting on a dainty coat. Yes, because of course when I go running, I am aiming to fly to meet the Hyperboreans, to find their always-present Muses. (You can find those Muses here.)
[1] Reading of Pindar informed by the late David C. Young's Three Odes of Pindar.

Brush: ewansim via Deviantart.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

wounds, talent

masters in training

the difficult starts