Cool(?) Runnings

So I’m realizing it takes a lot of work to be a functional adult in society. Like, a lot. 

And I don’t just mean the work you do at work. That’s important, but so is somehow knowing what every warning light in your car means. Yes, I know there’s a manual, but you obviously can’t read and drive at the same time, so I guess you just have to trust it isn’t urgent (even though it sometimes is; see previous blog posts Road Trippin’ Part I and Road Trippin’ Part II). All of a sudden you’re supposed to know how to cook even though you lived off dining hall food, take-out, and PB&J sandwiches all through college/grad school. And I’m still waiting for the point when I can make phone calls to the bank, landlord, gas company, or car place without getting nervous. In all honesty, when was the last time you made a call like that without pacing at least a little bit.

I mean it. Tell me.

And on top of all this, you’re supposed to be physically active too, right? It’s hard to feel like you’re living your best life when you show up at work having woken up with just enough time to tend to your body’s basic hygienic needs before starting your commute and see your coworkers who were awake and at the gym while you were still in deep REM sleep.

AND THEY AREN’T EVEN SWEATING. Seriously, how is it that I’m sweating more after a three minute walk from the train than these people are after an hour-long workout?? And don’t give me the whole “they showered at the gym” routine. When’s the last time you worked out, immediately took a shower, and didn’t start sweating instantly when you got out?

But healthy humans make a healthy community so I do my best to work out too. 

Now, before I go on, I think it’s worth mentioning that I made it through middle and high school without ever taking a PE class. If you don’t believe me, I will happily send you my transcripts (I’m really proud of my GPA). I did spend many nights crushing it on the high school and college football fields, but that was in a marching band uniform behind a saxophone.

That being said, the gym is not where I feel most at home. It was months before I would even go near the weight machines. Look me in the eye and tell me they don’t look like torture devices. And how do they even work? Half my energy in the gym goes into looking like I know what I’m doing, so I certainly can’t ask someone for help. This was definitely off the syllabus. Well, it probably wasn’t if we’re being honest, but see my previous paragraph about my experience in PE. 

I’ve done enough covert Google searches to know how most of the machines work at this point, but my go-to gym activity is running on the treadmill. Humanity has yet to invent a comfortable bike seat, ellipticals are prejudiced against short people, and stair machines are their own form of torture, so the treadmill is where it’s at. 

I know people talk of runner’s highs where you love running and could do it for days, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’m honestly curious to know how it came to pass that humans just started running long distances for the sake of running long distances. Imagine what it was like for our ancestors, who were probably just sitting around the cave minding their own business, to catch sight of someone running outside:

“Look how fast he’s running! Surely he’s about to catch a great meal for us to enjoy this evening. But wait. He has no spear. He must be running from something! Could it be a mammoth? No, they became extinct when we killed the last one for the harvest feast. Oh. My. Gosh. It’s got to be an enemy tribe! He’s leading them away so we have more time to escape! EVERYBODY MOVE! TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED! SHUT UP, CHILD #2! IT’S JUST A CAVE DRAWING! YOU CAN MAKE MORE WHEN WE FIND A NEW PLACE! LET’S GO! YOUR SACRIFICE WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN RUNNING MAN!”

And then they rush out of the cave and see no mammoth, no saber-toothed tiger, and no invading tribe. It’s just this man running by himself like a lunatic. How do I know it’s a man, you ask? Because history, that’s how. Any woman who defied logic and/or social convention this much would have been:

a.) Burned at the stake

b.) Stoned to death

c.) Imprisoned in the village stocks to face public humiliation and exposure to the elements

d.) Ridiculed on Twitter

e.) All of the above

So it was totes a man. And it’s this man I always think about (and secretly resent) as I’m slogging through mile 2 on the treadmill. 

I guess there’s a potentially good message in this man’s story. Do what makes you happy. Find something you love regardless of social conventions, and maybe in the years to follow other people will love it too. Maybe they’ll do it in groups with their friends. Maybe they’ll start their day with it. Maybe they’ll even pay money to do it with thousands of others. And maybe, generations down the road, people will realize you were onto something and that your unconventional activity – that thing you love doing so much you’d risk throwing your tribe community into chaos – directly contributes to the betterment of society.

And maybe one day some person will resent you for the trend you’ve created but will go along with it because he’s desperately trying to be an adult and because he wants to feel less guilty about the ice cream he consumed the night before.

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