Sunday, March 15, 2009


Running, Camus and Musil



Sometimes the running I do seems like a Sisyphean task. The run out and back begins to feel like the movement up a hill and back down (although Chicago has few real 'hills'). But this morning as I surveyed the hazy dawn and the moon low in the Western sky I had an epiphany of sorts. My running, even when it seems like a repeated effort, the same as last time and the time before, is not that at all.
It is part of my continuing change and growth, and in that change it expands the possibilities of the next day and the next task before me. This is what I might call a 'Musil' moment in the sense that Robert Musil, in his magnificent novel, The Man Without Qualities, discusses the possibilities of life. The main character, Ulrich, is searching for the possibilities of life in the sense that there are many paths we may choose. He talks of the subjunctive case, the what if of possibility.
My moment let me realize the change that occurs from what we do, and what we do not do. Camus' Sisyphus may be facing an uphill task, but he does not have to be caught in a loop repeating the same task over and over. Each day is new. Each run is a new run by a different person, changed by his actions from the moment before. This is a just a part of running and being.

4 comments:

candyschultz said...

I see running as sheer bliss. To me it is like flying. Although I used to get harassed quite a lot running is the time when I feel most human. Man, after all, did a lot of running for his life in prehistory. I will feel very sad when my running days are over.

James said...

Let us hope that is no time soon!

Damon said...

Excellent - thanks, James. Good to see you pounding the pavement (or the grass or track, hopefully).

(And the more 'Musil' moments in my life, the better.)

James said...

Fortunately, Chicago has pleasant running paths along its lakefront. And also, fortunately, reading Musil is a stimulating environment for encouraging thought about both the nature of life and the universe.