Why I Run: Control

There are so many reasons, but here is just one:

Control

Promise and Potential

Life has not turned out the way I expected growing up. I thought I might be a physicist-inventor in grade school. Sketching contraptions and daydreaming their workings, I would hear about world troubles in the paper or on the nightly news and go about thinking how to solve them. I’mĀ the weird kid who cried a little for the whales when I was in second grade and the teacher couldn’t understand how it affected me. I must do something about it, somehow.

But as I grew up, there were just too many things that were far too big. Not from a rich and connected family, there are hardships that consumed my attention. With a head so full of competing ideas, already I was thin on attention to spare. My schools were typical, but I am easily bored with the slow pace and pattern of repeated teachings. I should have stood tall for scholarship and recognition. But I could not be bothered, with life happening around me as it did.

My merits and my cleverness would be apparent to everyone, I assumed. I was willing to work hard, take risks, and do the daring. At 18, I moved across the country, channeling the storiesĀ from TV and books. Striking out to establish my career, find a wife, and start a family, I was confident in the world, if not myself. If you look for opportunities, you would find them. Yet, that was not how I found it to be.

Disillusionment

Life is complication. Simple work did not pay well, despite a hard work ethic. Indeed, I found my contemporaries slacking and protected from the consequences all while earning much more than I. I watched the towers come down just before I started college.

I am a high school drop out, and upon getting my G.E.D, I knew it would not count for much. The specter of my grade school dreams were haunting me. Dissuaded from physics, I sought to understand the issues and people behind the world’s problems. Jobs in these ‘soft skills’ are not available at the Bachelor’s level, and ‘career’ is an anachronism. Then I tried again, with graduate school.

An advanced degree is not the key to success I nor my partner hoped for. It was the connections that led our acquaintances and classmates to positions. We worked our way through school, but not in our field. Healthcare, an ever growing sector, seemed to have no need for those who did not fit neat boxes or have strong ‘networks’. So, again, I find myself outside the proscribed patterns of my childhood stories.

With recent developments in the world, those 15 years since I watched those towers fall while working studiously at a local church, I find myself still haunted by the urge to do something. I am still dwarfed by the scale of the issues in relation to my position in society. I am a thinker, a writer, and a dreamer woken violently into a world gone mad.

Control of Myself

In the midst of this mad world, I reached a point of torn apathy towards all things that I abused my own health wretchedly. Never one to smoke or do drugs or even have tattoos, I ate carelessly, slept randomly, and assumed my life obligations would maintain the rest. Yet, once more the story I told myself was all wrong.

One day, I tried to run and failed. After less than a minute, I was out of breath and willpower. Much as I’ve come short of affecting so many things, here was yet another thing that came before to seemingly limit me. This, however, was fundamentally different. For the mechanics of the body were right before me and I could grasp them for myself.

The internet has brought a vast well of knowledge to all mankind. I remember glancing at books about running in grade school, but it was at this moment of self-confrontation that I knew I had so much more available to me. Control. I could choose to find the information on how to conquer my body’s lethargy with careful use of the internet and applied plans of action to myself.

And I could not be stopped by anything other than myself.

When you set out to improve yourself and realize that all the tools, all the knowledge, and all the raw materials lay right before you, there can be no greater empowerment. I set upon my research on how to plan my ascension from passive weakness to capable action, I had only my own determination to rely upon. The information readily available, I need only absorb it, sort out the chaff, and apply a plan to myself.

With a plan and an understanding of the difficulties, I set out to push and coax my enfeebled flesh machinery past minor complaints. I alone, with the blessing of a whole body, had control over how far I ran each time I began to trot along. I could push and I could stop. The madness of the world had no hold on me. No crisis or corruption could touch me that was not of my own making when I ran.

I had a body and of it I was in complete control.

Of course, I still had challenges. Internally, there was motivation. Mechanically, there was soreness and potential of injury. Externally, there were obligations and conditions. However, all these factors would bend to my determinism, because I decide how to use my body. I could decide to wake up early, or not. And I was the sole being responsible if I missed a day because I simply did not exercise my right of control.

It is a blessing that when I tell my arm to move, when I ask my fingers to dance along these keys to tell you this, that I have that control. There are many in the world who do not for whatever reason. And there are many more, perhaps some reading this now, who may not have realized what control they have over themselves. If you do not like that you cannot run a distance, realize that if you have the mechanics of a typical human, however neglected, you have control.

You can will yourself to move, then you can improve upon that movement. If you can will yourself to read and think, you can improve upon your mind. You have control over yourself. Think, even those in prison can work to improve their bodies with nothing at their disposal but the body itself. That is all that is required.

And in a world gone made, I jealously love and exercise that control. There are days it feels as all I have.

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