In yesterday's post I alluded to me not listening to an ipod when I run. I tried it during my freshman year of college, but became so distracted by the music that I didn't focus on the run at all. For some people, that may be the whole point of using an ipod. It gets you through the miles. I totally get it. But that isn't me.
For me, running is like a form of meditation. I use it to process my day after work and sometimes to prepare for the next. I let my brain wander on the run and am sometimes amazed at what it will bring up.
It's 37 degrees out, now dark, and damp. When I started my run the weather reminded me of running in Vermont, which is frequently at that temperature and weather conditions. I was reminded of fall days at UVM when I was training for cross country.
That feeling then reminded me of one of my favorite professors, my calculus professor, who I took classes with during my entire first year. I looked forward to his class each day. He made it fun and the class felt like more of a high school class (small enough to joke around and get to know people) with the rigor of a college course.
One fall day, very similar to that of tonight (cold and wet), I had to go to Professor D's office to make up an exam from a class I missed (most likely due to XC). The clouds were covering the sky and when I walked into the math house that was home to his office, it was dark inside with no lights. I wasn't sure if I was in the right spot as no one was there to greet me and there were no signs.
However, I could hear the faint sound of jazz music coming from upstairs. After a couple of moments I realized that Professor D's office must be upstairs, so up I went. As I climbed the stairs of what must have once been some family's house, I became more confident that the jazz music was originating from his room. There was something comforting in finding out that one of the coolest professors at UVM was interested in jazz and that his office was beginning to remind me of Ron Burgundy's "rich mahogany" office.
While there was no leather bound books or mahogany, there was a feeling of intelligence when I walked into his office. It was a place of thinking. Of knowledge. I remember working on my test in the hallway and stopping to ponder what it was like to work in such an environment. At that moment, I realized that Professor D lived the life that I wanted to envision every college professor living. In an office full of books, dark enough to hide from the outside world, but unique enough to elicit great thoughts.
After reliving this memory in my head tonight, I thought of the man, Professor D. He was so personable and accommodating, especially when my mom got sick the following spring. To this day, I randomly think of him, and wonder how he's doing. I haven't spoken to him since my sophomore year of college, but find it amazing how one person can touch another's life and make a lasting thought.
I'm not sure why I've held on to the memory of that fall day or why it even means so much, but I do know that there's no way my mind would have remembered it tonight had I been blasting Katy Perry on my run.
In our age of constant entertainment and technology bombardment, I take relief knowing that I can go out for a run and give my mind a break. I don't think we give our minds as much freedom to think and process as we should do.
Some people ask why I run and there are many reasons: to stay in shape, to see how fast I can run, to challenge myself, to learn more about myself. I also say that I run to remember. I run to reflect. I run to process my day. And perhaps, what all of this running does, is keep me a little more sane. A little more grateful for the things I have in my life.