Monday, August 14, 2006

The Human Side of Jogging

Jogging (or running) rhymes quite well with blogging, except that the former has been with us since our species became bipedal. While initially it was a function resorted to get to places faster, most times it was also a smart defense mechanism to escape from any imminent danger given that compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, our brute strength and size put us at great inherent disadvantage.

But it was in the 60’s and 70’s when we found yet another use for it, and invested it with the unique term, jogging, to denote a specific activity for specific purposes. Apart from the usual purposes, we elevated it as a form of physical exercise with the primary intent of pursuing a quite necessary ingredient in good living - keeping our bodies fit and limber, and in the process, our minds, too. It has been said that man is the only animal that needs exercise to keep fit. The others like lions, cheetahs, monkeys, etc. are fit because of the natural activities in their lives. Leading to this popular put-down, that man is the only animal who drives 7 miles to a park so he can run for 2 miles around it.

Jogging definitely has caught on rapidly with the entire world. We see its devotees in parks, tracks, mountain trails, and yes, even on city streets reeking with exhaust fumes. There must be millions and millions of them around the globe.

But for maybe an equally great number, it is still an activity to be shunned. The very mention of it as a form of physical exercise is enough to turn people off. Unquestionably, many of us are averse to the idea of having to sweat to get fit. Many would much prefer to choose from any of an unknown number of pills or equally great numbers of diet plans to arrive at such degree of fitness.

But what is missing in the present discussion, and those conducted most everywhere else, is that this function of jogging (or running) is also fun, albeit it is not all unalloyed pleasure. The activity itself, after many sessions and after gaining some degree of having adapted to and liking it, is fun; and even more fun because of the ensuing physical and mental benefits that undoubtedly spring from it.

You could take my word for that, since I have been at it for almost 20 years. And for that, I swear on my bible for running:
Jogging James Fixx
The Complete Book Of Running, the definitive work on jogging written by James F. Fixx who lived what he preached.

The lonely travails of a solo runner? Maybe.
But there is fun, too.
And the family who runs together, maybe also stays together?

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Sky Above Us

Lately, media has assaulted our already hyper-wracked senses with disturbing images of the sky, the firmament, the heavens, or call it whatever suits your fancy. Tell-tale images of the sky in various forms of man-made ugliness - smoke blackened, pock-marked, mottled and muddied. Most especially the skies around Israel and Lebanon.
Sky In Lebanon

The pristine as dawn blue skies that typically define our visual perception of Eden on earth has now been usurped by skies that clearly have been violated and trampled by the “dogs of war” – with brushstrokes created by rockets and artillery, by thick dark forbidding plumes emanating from targeted buildings and flesh. Sharp Imagery of contrails easelessly crisscrossing the void above our earthly sights, hurtling toward targets locked for destruction. Contrails that noiselessly herald their beginning to presage the oncoming mayhem that will be wrought on their projected points of impact.

Paradoxically, the succeeding images we feast our eyes on are the indescribable destruction wrought by these violations of the sky. Of buildings razed to the ground. Of grotesquely-countenanced mourners holding lifeless bodies of loved ones, with dirtied faces and teary eyes uplifted toward the same sky, clearly pleading for deliverance from their pains and suffering.

How ironic. That man desecrates the sky and still finds the temerity to look at the sky for deliverance. Since time immemorial, man has considered the sky as the abode of something or somebody greater than him. To him, the sky represents the delineation between his earthbound existence and that of an unfathomable unknown where resides things he is not fully capable of knowing and reaching. Thus, in prayerful supplications, we usually have our voices and eyes lifted upward to the heavens. In deep awe and reverence.

It is of little surprise then that lately almost as a conditioned reflex I have turned upward, toward the Pacific coast, to recapture endearing memories of once beautiful and almost mystical images of skies lit to different brilliant colors, obvious temporal displays authored by a Being quite prideful of His work.
SK Skyline

Unsurprisingly, one still finds the beautiful imageries of sky everywhere else one looks, undaunted and undiminished by the ugliness visiting it in other parts of the firmament.

And as if in obvious taunt, it shows more of what is in store for those willing to view the sky as a vision of beauty, grace, and omnipotence, and not a medium for bringing death and destruction to the earth below.

This time it requires some fees for viewing, a sort of entrance fee as a way of making sure that those who view, view it with purpose and effort, and not simply by accident of looking at a sky that is after all everywhere man turns.

Where else but in the not readily accessible and inhospitable environment of Antarctica, where the omnipotent Resident of the sky opts to show yet another display of grandeur – a sky looming like an iridescent mother of pearl (nacre).