There’s something elevating about the rush of the wind against your  sweating limbs ,the dull ache in the muscles, the thrill of the synchronized movement of your legs, the racing pulse ,of looking back to check on  your competitors and looking forward to the call of the finishing line, the loud cheers and the applause, even if you are not the winner.

Commuting from East Bangalore to South Bangalore by public transport calls for some very important life skills, one of which is the ability to run. As soon as you spot a bus to your destination, your  hands move to clutch your bag and you involuntarily get ready to run.

The bus driver slows down tantalizingly close to stopping the vehicle. You heave a sigh of relief. The vehicle which looked within your reach then speeds up and you feeling tired stop, wearily nod your head and resign to your fate.

Not always though. Once in a while you decide to give the bus a chase and run and catch the vehicle when it grinds to a halt at the traffic junction.You turn around with a sly smile of victory at the driver and the conductor, who  just look through  you.Good for nothings! you mutter under your breath.Though piqued at not getting a standing ovation, you feel triumphant, supremely elated and thank the good fortune of having stepped on to cow dung to fetch you a coveted seat at rush hour in the morning. Your day is good, the best in fact, you tell yourself.

The desire to run and the need for it manifests itself at different points in our lives.The other day a good friend expressed his desire to run far away from the reach of his parents who pestered him to get married.The girl sitting next to me was eager to avoid the unsolicited attention bestowed  upon her by one of her distant relatives.A colleague,married for many years wanted to escape her  claustrophobic marriage.

For some the rituals and  of rigors of religion offers the perfect escape. A dedicated artist seeks the path to salvation in his art. A mother who lost her young son, spends hours together at prayer meetings, at service in the temple, attending to the needs of old women who stay alone etc to forget her pain. A lady I know never lets go of an opportunity to travel away from home.

At any given time, everyone is ready for the run. The child is ready to run home from his school, the teacher is waiting for the bell to ring to run out of the classroom, the housewife is ready for escape from the waiting dishes and responsibilities, the man is ready to run for his life from his wife.

The run as the grand escape from the toils and turmoils,the run towards the  so  called enduring pleasures of life is an ever inviting promise.

Leo Babuata calls running his zazen, which in Zen Buddhism means , seated meditation. It is  his meditation, his peace, his sanctum. Running to him is  an effort at trying to be present.

According to Osho, a moment comes when the runner disappears and there is only running. That is when the body, mind and the soul start functioning together. The doors of the divine are many, he adds and running is just one of them.

Why do we love to run?  In his blog of the same name Adharand Finn quotes Holden Claufield in Catcher in the Rye who suddenly starts to run.”I don’t even know what I was running for -I guess I just felt like it” Adharand talks of how running harder, deeper into loneliness makes one feel strangely elated.

My love for running  was so great that my secret ambition was to be the next P.T.Usha.Well, I even believed that I could fly, if I tried hard enough. But if I were to break into a run as a middle -aged adult, it would be such an oddity.

As adults we have long  stopped doing things because we felt like doing them.Perhaps  this is what runners look for in running to do something for the joy of it. Running then is a childhood game in disguise. It’s the much coveted childhood that the beleaguered adult hopes to reclaim through running.

Even as I go farther I come closer

Even as I  run one among the crowd

I run alone….




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