February 22, 2012
There is a definite flow to the running process. Every time I head out the door I can feel it, almost as a tingling sensation that surrounds and envelops the physical experience. Perhaps I have this perception because I’m hypersensate, but honestly, I rather doubt it. And no, I’m not referring to the “runner’s high” that most people attribute to a release of endorphins in the brain. The feeling I’m talking about is more of a flow. And to be honest, it has probably always been there, it’s just that it’s only in recent years – a time when I’ve become especially conscious of many aspects of the human existence – that I’ve truly been able to sense it.
If you tune in closely enough, you can feel it, too, almost in the same way would experience the sensation of electricity when touching a “hot” wire. Just like the endorphin high, there is the tingling feeling associated with it. But unlike the physical discomfort you feel when unexpectedly coming into contact with electrical flow, this tingling feels, well….comfortable, I think.
And it isn’t just your body that flows in this manner. Pay close attention as you run, and you’ll discover that everything else around you is flowing, too, each in its own distinct way. Air flows over and around you on all sides, cooling you, creating resistance, or sometimes even assistance, depending on its speed and direction. People, automobiles, and even animals are also part of the flow – some fast, some slow, some going in your direction, some in the opposite direction, and some even criss-crossing your path at various angles and velocities.
In some ways, all this activity is like the study of a river, where everything in it is either riding the slipstream or finding little ebbs and eddies in the flow, with objects passing each other back and forth or making occasional contact, but each moving forward toward a common destination. The flow of a river is one of life’s many paradoxes, as in any given moment, it can appear to us either static or everchanging. So which one is it? The paradox is that the answer is ‘both.”
And what about time? Yes, it is also a component of this flow. Time is actually the one great river to which we all seem to belong, no matter who or where we are, or what we do. Time typically flows in the forward direction; at least that’s what physics teaches us. But under different conditions, time can seem to flow at different speeds, and in many directions all at the same time, just like the flow of water in the river does in different seasons, or as a result of varying weather patterns. But time – some call it the fourth dimension – flows nonetheless, and it flows in concert with all of the objects which conform to the three-dimensional world that we see, hear, smell, taste and feel.
As I ran through the streets and byways of New York City on this unseasonably warm February day, I found myself amid an everchanging flow, with each turned corner and each new neighborhood providing a tingling sensation, a new moment in the flow of time and space. And as rivers do, this flow put forth a serenity that can only truly be experienced by clearing your mind and allowing yourself to be “caught up” in it.
When I am traversing the 315-mile length of the Hudson River in May, I will do my best to be mindul of this flow, to experience its peace and serenity, and to share with it my own.