Tag Archives: freedom

A Post from the Cave

Yesterday I was innocently working from home when my cell phone rang. The caller ID read “UNAVAILABLE” so I should have known better. But just in case it was someone from the office, I picked up and said hello.

“Hello?” a female voice replied. Then after a moment, “I’m so sorry – I was adjusting my headset! Anyway, I’m calling because you recently stayed at one of our resorts, and we have this offer . . .”

picard-face-palm

Oh, Lord. I let her pitch her absolutely fabulous offer, until she wanted to ask me a few questions. Then I said, “I suppose there’s a timeshare presentation involved in this?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you,” she replied. “Can I ask you a few questions?” I repeated my timeshare suspicion. “Can I ask you a few questions?” she said again.

I hung up. She was a robot, pre-screening before handing me off to a closer. But I have to admit I was fooled for a bit. They are getting better at this. Robot callers even deny they’re robots. Read an example here.

No, totes true dude, I'm a human - beep beep beep - HA HA HA HA- How about them Cubs?

No, totes truly dude, I’m a human – beep beep beep – HA HA HA HA- How about them Cubs?

Which got me thinking (hey, it’s better than working, right?) about the new waves of technology that make virtual reality closer to “real” reality. Video games use the moves of real athletes who were wired up just for that purpose. An increasing number of movies are either partly, or completely, CGI generated. And new VR headsets are coming that will let the wearer participate in some incredible experiences. Say, simulating a mountain bike adventure on your stationary bike, riding a roller coaster from your couch, or even flying like a bird. Click here for details.

I find a kind of odd symmetry here with what else is going on in the world. With the country’s future and the world’s future more uncertain that ever, it’s natural, I suppose, for the visual and tactile boundaries between fantasy and reality to blur as well. How long before we simply sit in chairs all day living entirely in a fantasy world? (Perhaps we are now. Plato suggested that we were.)

platos-cave

Look! I can do a bunny rabbit!

But as we approach our country’s annual day of gratitude and overeating, there are a few things I can be certain of, and count on:

  • I have the love of my family and can count on them supporting me no matter what, and that I would do the same for them.
  • I can count on Skip and the Body Specs crew mashing me into the floor so I can get back up stronger than ever.
  • I can count on pain, blisters, and bruises from running marathons and trail ultramarathons, and that I will treasure each one anyway.
  • Our cats will continue walking on the books we’re trying to read, nagging for food when I’m trying to concentrate, and being an unending source of affection and comic relief. (Screw you and your feline hatred, The Atlantic; cats rule.)
  • I’m certain that people will continue to say to me, “So I was reading your blog the other day…” when I didn’t think they knew I had a blog.

And finally, I’m certain that America will remain the land of the free and the home of the brave, as long as we remain brave enough to stand for what’s right. Our freedom was too hard earned to take for granted or let others try to diminish or take away.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Freedom to Run, and Freedom of the Run

I DECLARED MY INDEPENDENCE YESTERDAY.

You probably didn’t notice. There was no formal diplomatic announcement, or fireworks or anything. I just went for a run.

Running and freedom have been associated for a long time. After all, the original “Marathon” was run to announce the victory of the Athenians over the Persians, which preserved Greek independence. And the American Revolution has a famous “run” too, albeit by a horse. (Paul Revere was just along for the ride.)

Meme-NotJustRunningBut I think that running, and running the marathon in particular, embodies many of the characteristics we associate with being “American.” The feeling that we can accomplish anything if we put our mind to it. The willingness to work hard toward a goal, and the determination to see it through.

And as an individual sport, running captures the myth of the “rugged individualist” pioneer, dependent on no one else, whose success or failure in life was entirely his own. No matter how conventional a marathon runner may be in other areas of life, he or she harbors a spark of the rebel that says in this I answer to myself and no other.

Start-ChicagoMarathon

Three years ago I stood in the starting queue of my first marathon, 35,000 other runners packed tight around me. As we shambled toward the starting line and then began to jog, then to run, I distinctly remember thinking: All the training, all the preparation, everything that led up to this moment is done. For the next four hours I have no other obligations, nothing else to worry about. The only thing I have to do is run.

And what a liberating feeling that was.

I wasn’t the only one with a feeling of freedom that day. A few miles in I spotted this woman ahead of me:

Desperate Mom

Having helped raise two active kids, I can fully understand why this mom considers marathons vital to her sanity.

But any good run can be liberating. Yesterday I worked late to finish some important tasks. When I got home I felt tired and mentally fatigued, I hadn’t had dinner, and there was the usual list of stuff to do at home. Time to declare a little independence! I changed clothes, slipped the headlamp on, and hit the road.

Wearing my new trail shoes, I ran dirt roads, including a couple I’d never been down before. I soon slipped into a comfortable pace and cruised along, body rejuvenated and mind clear. Like in Chicago, I could briefly imagine myself free of all other obligations, just being out there in the moment.

Until my cell phone went off.

For reasons I won’t go into here, it was necessary for me to stop and check what was going on. Fortunately, all was well, and I finished my run refreshed. But to me it’s another example of how our modern world, with all its wonderful technology and creature comforts, comes at a cost to our sense of freedom. Which makes those opportunities where we can really feel “free” so much more precious.

Team RWB-Liberty RunHappy 4th of July to everyone!