To a Runner, From the Charles

"Join me, and don't breath so hard. I am with you if you just follow me. Come along downstream, and run your course beside me. Run parallel to me, but of course, take your time. It isn't a competition, even one with yourself. It isn't a test, even one of conviction.

"Neither is it the race you think it is to get from 'end' to 'end,' 'here' to 'there.' You are here and you are there at once, as am I. You are there when you assume you are here. And you are here when you assume you are there. As am I.

"I understand the anxiety you feel as you begin your trek, and the continuing malaise you harbor even as you pick up speed. And I understand it is not from laziness, nor lack of motivation, that these feelings originate. It is the events which have taken their toll on you. But you can lose their burden in me. Yours is a burden which ought not exist. It dissipates, you know.

"But you have the peculiar quality of being shaken by events of the smallest magnitude. As if the they were capable of throwing off the direction of your journey. Hah. Beef up.

"Don't you see that you ought not fret? Take it in stride, as I do the junk discarded onto me. I will endure and outlast it. You, too, will continue onward, past burdens of the present and even those of the future. They are not pleasant, of course. But neither is your sewage, which is part of my existence.


"How can you conceive of my everlasting mindset?

"Think of the farmer at harvest time, which it is soon enough for apples, and for wheat in warmer climes. He thinks of this harvest, of course, but of future harvests as well. And about how he must plant the ground for the coming season after the depression of winter, which in itself is not depressing, but part and parcel of the seasonal fluctuation.

"The farmer thinks not, 'I have had a good harvest. I will retire.' Nor does he think, 'I have had a poor harvest. I will give up.' Nor, 'I have had a fine harvest. This bodes well for next year.' Nor, 'I have had a terrible harvest. Next year, I am certainly doomed.' No, the farmer continues doing what he has done of necessity. Perhaps he worries for temporal concerns, but he endures.

"The farmer, he is rooted in cycle. You, you are ill-concerned with repetition, and only aware of some fantastical march, quest, conquest,debauch. And, so you are aware of this manufactured process, and you act upon it. You run as if you were running toward something. But you are only running in circles.

"In fact, it isn't the finish line that is the thing you are after, though most everybody is naive enough to believe that you are. No, it is knowledge of the continuity in your lives that you really desire-the same continuity that I get from acknowledging the Strawberries music store on my side every day.

"That Strawberries is there, though it was not always, and will not always be, is something to be taken notice of. For it is a signpost, and it is there for me, I since it is in my purview. Am I there for Strawberries? It is not for me to determine.

"Strawberries denotes not a point on a line, but an area of a my sphere. And when you run with me, it is your sphere too. Like that wonderful old tree on the Memorial Drive side of the Weeks Footbridge, it is a permanent landmark, saying, 'Yes. I am with you.'

"And you shall be with it, rather than against it; shall be concerned about it, rather than about getting around it. For the tree is an emanation of natural life, as Strawberries is a product of human life, and each is important on its own terms. Each shares the wonder of creation, which I also share with you.

"At some point we can see the end of the yearly cycle when you must desert me for the indoor world. At that time, it is cold, and the tree too shrinks inward, as the music store closes its doors to save heat. At this moment, it is the end of the year, and we close down our cycle.

"But we close it down only to begin it anew. We record the past cycle, and plan ahead to the new one. And all at the same time! And soon we will reflect and lament. But now we are joyous about the path we have traveled, though not necessarily because of the destination where we happen to be. And for that reason it is a happy new year."