Marathon Runner

“The loneliness of the Long Distance Marathon Runner”

[This is an essay I wrote just one year ago, in Jan’2017 and before I retired 6 mths later. ]

I was on bed, my wife still trying to catch some more sleep as the winter morning is still dark. But suddenly I was awake, my mind bubbling with a realisation. The realisation of a long distance runner who runs alone.

What will I really miss when I retire from office? My mind asked.

I will miss nothing. I will not miss anything that is special to my organisation. Nothing is typical to my office that other people retiring from other organisations will not miss.

So what is it that I will really miss?

Today when I am still working and I wake up I have a goal. I have to attend office.

Work or no work I have to travel to my office maneuvering my way through traffic if I am driving my car or through the teeming crowds of people if i am going by public transport system.

Work or no work I have to park my car, walk up the stairs, open the door of my chamber, switch on the fan, the central AC already running, switch on the PC and sit down. Luckily I am at a position where I sit in office. Had I been in a shop floor I would be welcomed by the noise of machines running.

Work or no work I check my email every day. If there is work I do it. If there is no work I surf the web. Work or no work people are around me, above me, below me since I am in a huge building or maybe I am in a huge campus and so even if I do not interact with anybody unnecessarily the choice is there to interact, the mind knows that if I want I can walk down to someone’s table and say hello and share a cup of tea or chat on intercom.

Work or no work every day gives me an OPPORTUNITY to make something new happen. Power to make something happen or stop something from happening is still in my hands. That is active life. That is life till I retire.

Everyday when I wake up I have someplace to go. Every day when I go to sleep I know tomorrow will be different. Every day I look forward to a Tomorrow. Every day I wish when will this end so I can changeover to a new peaceful retired life? Every day I look forward to a new tomorrow, a better tomorrow.

And then retirement will come. One stage of life they say will end. The first stage was growing up as a baby and playing with toys. It was the parents who looked forward to putting their child into school and so they toiled hard to find out which schools are good and queued up at the best schools and slogged with their baby to get him or her admitted. At that stage it was the parents who looked forward to baby growing up and entering school. Then cam the stage of studies and the boy or the girl always looking forward to the day when all the exams will end and he or she could be free and earning and enjoying the world as all adults seemed to be larger than life when they saw from their school student eyes.

Little did he or she know that adulthood would also be looking forward to the end of its stage and settling down in peace. In life we always look forward to the next stage. And that is why when we come to the last stage when we retire from office what do we look forward to ? Death?

Once we are retired there will be no more looking forward to retirement. Every day I will wake up with nowhere to go. I will not need to wake up. I will not need to travel. I will not need to work.

I see my so many old people, successful in their times who are much older than me and one generation higher. All active in their days. Advocate. Doctors. Successful people. Now what they are doing? Sitting at home waiting for death to come? What do we look forward to when we retire?

We say a new phase of life is starting in our farewell messages in offices when we retire.

What is life if change does not happen? What is life if we have nothing to look forward to? What is life if tomorrow has no meaning?

I finished Half Marathon (21 kms) and since I did it without much strength training of the required parts of my body and properly evaluated shoes at the end of it my legs were paining and I had to slow down to a mere walk and there was nobody around me.

I was a Marathon Runner and so I walked alone. 🙂

I walked not ran because after few kms I could not run since I was totally without practice, having embarked on the Marathon purely out of mental will power and curiosity to test myself.

But anybody who runs a Full Marathon knows that everybody starts together the moment the whistle goes but after a few kms, some have fallen behind and some have gone ahead, each runner is running alone, with his own pain, with his own passion, with his own strain, with his own goal, with his own focus everything alone. A long distance runner actually runs alone because even though he starts out in a group after some time everybody falls in his or her own pace. And soon he or she is running all alone living in his own world looking forward to reach his goal.

Does not LIFE has similarity with a Marathon? Try running every day and try a full marathon 42 kms or 56 kms or 12 hours long endurance running. Running a Marathon is like living a full life.

Nothing can beat the loneliness of a long distance Marathon runner. Life is like that. We may start out with people but soon the ones with whom we started have gone ahead of us or we have gone ahead of them. New people come to our lives and they also pass or we pass them. Pass into oblivion or pass away from this world. At the end you are the one who is still running, alone.

Even when I wake up on my bed besides my wife of so many decades and hopefully she will be there for many decades more, I am actually living a solitary life. Are we not all?

Nobody can actually be company to anyone. Life has to be lived alone. Only surrounded by people- be it at office or be it at home.

All my surroundings are momentary. As I run through life I reach people walking in the same path of their own lives. Some fall back and disappear behind me, some run past me ahead and disappear in front of me.

I keep running at my own pace. My Goal is not to reach the end or to finish the Marathon. Finishing the Marathon is not in my hands. I just need to keep running long distance, forever, one marathon ending leading to another next time and another next and next and next till the running itself ends one day.

A marathon man running lonely. That is what is real life. The cheering crowds around, the blue sky above, the trees around are just a setting that is meant to make you run and enjoy the run.

There is no work life. There is no retired life. There are no phases in life. If you look at life in phases then you will be dead before you are dead.

Life is about running. There is no goal in life. Nothing has to be achieved. We do not need to run  after goals. Reaching and achieving a goal will keep you dissatisfied because you have linked your satisfaction to a goal. The moment one goal is reached your mind seeks another goal. The moment you see another person near you achieving more in that same goal you stress yourself to surpass him.

The moment today ends I look forward to a tomorrow. All the time I go to work I look forward to retirement. The day I retire I look forward to ? Death ?

This is the fallacy we all commit. There is no goal to be pursued. The journey itself is the goal. Running itself is the goal. Running today and longer today than yesterday is the goal because in running itself is the elixir of life. Just keep running long Distance, a Marathon.

Run Marathon man run. Run Marathon Runner run.

Keep running. Run Lonely.

Run Alone.

Run Solitary.

Be Strong and Keep Running. In company of your friends and family but Alone.