‘What I talk about when I talk about running’ is the title of a book by Haruki Murakami. He talks about his obsession with running and how it links with his writing. While it was interesting to read some of his thinking around the fact that running was the healthy yang to the decadent yin of creative writing or as a penance for his writing gifts. The line that struck a chord with me was the following ‘no matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act’. I wrote in an earlier post that meditation and reflective practice was one of my pillars of my mental well being the words above sum up what it means for me. It is not necessarily the act of meditation that is important, although I do meditate. It is the fact that simple actions repeated can become meditative. The obvious one here is the simple act of running, placing one foot in front of the other, this is almost as important as the physical chemical based reactions that can lighten your mood when you exercise.
But more importantly to me is the creative act of my photography. Going out with a manual film camera, separate light meter and no electronic gimmicks slows me down and breaks the process in to a set of simple steps that can become reflective. I am not talking about some ‘achieving a higher stream of consciousness’ or ‘a pastiche Zen and the Art of Photography’. It is simply about giving myself time to reflect and enjoy the creative process.
Even if you have never run I would recommend reading the book.
Run Every Day – Day 7 – 30 mins
I am not at my best on a Saturday morning, although I do run on a Saturday it is normally late afternoon after I have finished in the shop. But this weekend my parents are up so I drag myself out of bed. The weather forecast had promised a nice day after yesterday’s rain had passed through. But even though it was gone 8 there was less light and more mist than yesterday. So it was more of a ‘contractual obligation’ run than anything else. But once I was alongside the river I began to enjoy being out, there was the right amount of mist that if I had been in a wood or on a lake would give you a nice atmospheric photo. It also damped down or muffled the sound of the early shopper’s cars and leads to that idea of an eerie quiet when I got on to the canal path. Given my hypersensitivity to sound and colour the muted morning allowed me to relax and my contractual obligation became something that I could enjoy, relatively speaking. That is one of the joys of running for me, you go out unsure of how you will feel and bad starts turn in to good runs, conversely good starts turn in to bad runs. What has changed now is that I do not beat myself up or force myself on when a good run goes bad, whatever happens I just let it run it’s course.
Across the river