no run today. just this.
The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
You laugh he said you think you’re immune
Go look at your eyes they’re full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies pretty lies
When you gonna realize they’re only pretty lies
— the prophet joni mitchell
The last time I saw the Dude was in 2010 maybe. He was a high school student with a spirit and mind that you stumble across maybe, oh, once, in your life. He would bounce around like Tigger from running to philosophy to music to socialism to the joys of beets. To read his posts, which began when he was 14, was a breath of fresh air, to remember that life is to be lived, damn the consequences. He was crazy fast, fearless, shirtless, ponytail trying to keep up. And then he vanished.
I snooped around on the Internet occasionally. I found what I thought might be a good email address, wrote him and never heard back. I would see a race result now and then, but that was it.
He showed up today. “Well well well … it’s been a while,” he said. Then he proceeded to recount the story of his life. A 34:52 10K, a 2:46.09 marathon triumph in Houston, a disappointing Boston, a summer internship in D.C., a freshman year at Dartmouth. “If I had a second go at freshman year of college I sure would have made sure to run more. Running makes me happy. Running produces results. Happiness means different things for different people. For me, the tangible results of training for a race account for much of my happiness. I certainly struggled in many ways this past year to handle living alone and during college without my old buddies, training and racing. What does studying Baudelaire, Flaubert lead to? What does taking introductory bio lead to? Why go through the grind of intro chem? Not sure yet which path I’ll be taking … but I sure do know what a set of 400m repeats is supposed to do and the race serves as proof of the repeats’ efficacy.” I think he figured it out.
These days, he’s still bouncing around. From New Hampshire to San Diego. From Las Vegas to Boston. From philosopher to realist. He’s a little older, a bit wiser, but his spirit seems to be intact. The world needs more spirit.
“I think it was Nietzsche who said something along the lines of humans can endure extraordinary pain as long as they see some reason for their suffering,” he said. “Life is more than training for a race, but it justifies the struggle. If anything, it’s something familiar, something I’ve been doing for a while. Here’s to keeping on keeping on.”
As I struggle with the impending demise of Joni Mitchell, it’s good to know the Dude is there to pick up the torch and run with it. Round and round and round in the circle game indeed.
Stop by anytime, Dude. Beet juice is on me.