pursues you in your flight

This will be a brief post because during this unusual window of recreational off-time, I have decided to keep up with the WS100 updates. Like, I feel life is like a race now, so it's therapeutic to watch a race, just like once upon a time, in the midst of giving too many exams, I felt cured by watching "judge shows", specifically "Chopped", which depersonalised my understanding that assessment can verge on the arbitrary. But let's talk about races. Specifically, the feeling of where the good old college try in the race is foiled by sudden changes to the course, different from what was trained for. This is all figurative - but two running-based passages got me back on track in my losing 'race', which is why I thought I would write about it on this blog.
First, were parts of AJW's WSJ100 speech, which inspired my will to continue with relentless forward motion. He says things like: "I want you to go into the race confident, resilient, and faithful. ... You have to stand on that starting line knowing that you're going to finish. You must. You might not, but you must stand on that starting line knowing that you're gonna finish. ... Then, you need to know .. you're gonna get smacked around. Hard. ... it's gonna suck, ruthlessly; push it away"; "You need to take it ... You deal with it. And then you push it the hell away". After listening to him say those words, I felt like I was listening to someone who had witnessed my life these past two weeks, and also felt reinspired to pick myself up again after my "Horatian pity party".
What is a Horatian pity party? That's what I call when Horace distances himself from himself, through satire, to poke at all of his shortcomings. I find myself experiencing such verbal criticism periodically. Horace describes what this self-criticism feels like - and here is the running part:
you yourself can not be an hour by yourself, nor dispose of your leisure in a right manner; and shun yourself ... one endeavoring with wine, another with sleep, to cheat care - in vain: for the gloomy companion presses upon you, and pursues you in your flight.


Horace ends this Satire humourously, asking the criticising voice (in this case, represented by a slave who addresses his master during the Saturnalia festival, when role-reversal was permitted) for stones, so he could throw them at the voice that plagued him. (To which the slave says: "The man is either mad, or making verses", which is funny for several reasons.)
But, we don't throw stones in races.
And neither did Horace. Instead, he resolves his inconsistencies in his epistles, where he is determined not to live up to his slaves' accusations, and tries to master res (circumstance; things), rather than be subjected to them (ep. 1.1). Where he was once accused of running away from himself, he now seeks "what returns you to a friend to yourself" [pp. 43-8, 1].
These are all fancy words to say, for some of us it's a little tricky to be like one who runs towards oneself, what with all of one's inconsistencies, which can be burdensome.
"...it's gonna suck, ruthlessly; push it away."
And that resolve brings with it new vistas. For example, two years ago, I was - literally - running like a hen (and away from myself!) But now, I have more control over my stride, and speed - it seemed to come over night (or with the arm muscles that suddenly appeared), and now, every time I go out for a run, I understand what people must mean when they say how excited they are to give their car a new spin.
To me, the suck is the loud self-criticism. It comes up no matter what activity I pursue. "You deal with it. And then you push it the hell away."

Brush: Misprinted Type.
Photo: the destination of one of my runs earlier this year.

Comments

  1. Hello Ane - I have come across a snippet of information that may assist you further - 'The absence of an important river in the area has not lessened the number of topographically-based place names associated with water. Rivers, being trade routes and therefore widely known, often maintain their earlier British names, which were taken over by the Anglo Saxons and used for associated settlements. Water-based names are the three Duntisbournes, meaning Dunt's stream'. (The three place names around the stream are Duntisbourne Leer, Duntisbourne Abbot, and Duntisbourne Rouse)
    This suggests to me that the Dun (Dunt) has never been anything other than a stream - hope that this might assist you further - all the best Rosemary

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by my blog to share that, Rosemary. I also found further information, which I will share in a comment on your post - in case it is of interest to other of your readers drawn to this estuarine topic.

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