Nan-ch’uan, Alan Watts and the morning run

Master Nan-ch’uan was asked: What is the Tao?

He replied, “Usual life is the very Tao.”

The student asked again: How can we accord with the Tao?

Nan-ch’uan replied, “If you try, you will run away from it.”

Last weekend my Insane Running Buddy (IRB) and I ran a 7 km fundraiser for cancer.  The time wasn’t too shabby and the course ended with a celebratory piece of Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte.  As it always happens, by day’s end, I’ve raced from one mental state to another: great run, disappointing distance (it was supposed to be a 10k), great time, awful breathing, and so on.  Two days later, it’s hard to convince the body that the usual run is going to be satisfying.  The IRB cancels; great! Damn! terrific! Poop!  Clinging and aversion.

Perpetually things and events are moving and changing (Alan Watts, The Spirit of Zen).

The winds are high today and sky is dark grey.  The outer environment is not as inviting as that sunny day along the canal.  But it changes quickly simply because the winds shepherd the clouds along.  The inner environment seems less pliable.  It clings to the idea of how the morning should go: get up, wash, dress for running, run.  The body instead slides into sipping tea, checking emails, savouring toast and marmalade, laughing with family, relishing the aroma of fresh roasting coffee. And the thoughts rally around more-fun and not-run.

…we cannot take hold of the present moment and make it stay with us; we cannot call back the past time or keep forever a passing sensation…if we suddenly realize that we are happy, the more we endeavour to think of some means of preserving our happiness, the faster we see it slipping away.

We go for our run, the Pace Bunny (PB) and I.  The inner runner wants to push the pace.  If 7k felt good at a plodding pace, then 2k would feel awesome at a flash fire pace.  The body settles for a 19 minute jog over 2.2 k and sets the tone for the day.  This is usual.

The winds have settled and the clouds drift.  The sky is blue with dots of grey and white.  The nuthatch just dropped upside down onto the bird feeder scattering seeds.  There is chai to sip and my daughter wonders if she’s getting older or are the newspaper comics getting lame.

This is usual life.



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