I’m procrastinating a little.
It’s day two of our January thaw.
It’s 48 degrees and raining, which has glazed the 4th-class gravel road in front of our house with a sheen of mottled gray ice.
So, I’m less excited to get out there and put in the miles today, but I know I need them — as do my dogs, Dragon and Freyja, who will eventually lose their patience with my lassitude.
For the time being, I have been reflecting on and planning for running instead. I’ve been dividing 272 by various single digit numbers — 9, 8, 7 — realizing that only 4 extra miles per day can help me complete the Long Trail in 8 days rather than 9. Is that possible, for me?
I pushed to near 40 miles for a day or two of my Arctic Trail run last August, but then I also called it quits after only half the total distance because of a stress reaction in my leg. More training? The variables in Vermont are different, the goal distance overall is shorter, but the terrain more demanding.
I’ve also never ridden a bike 200 miles in one go. I’m confident, though that the training I started in December will make that possible for me.
Every step of every run I take is so deeply interbraided with these questions, with self-doubt, as well as with the hopes, aspirations, and insights I gain from reflecting on the why of it all.
Some of that why is this:
Experiencing our full humanity requires us to attenuate our self-centeredness by enfolding it within a much wider sense of self in which we experience genuine love and compassion for all beings, both living and non-living.
This excerpt from a short essay by Stephan Harding is part of a response to the question, “What does it mean to be human?” Harding draws on Arne Naess’s idea of an ecological self — one that is larger than just our individual self that encompasses the whole of the human and non-human worlds.
I share Stephan Harding’s belief that
…the most pressing challenge for our times is to awaken the ecological selves of as many people as possible within the shortest possible time.
This is exactly why I’ve come to do the things I do —
If I can connect my footfall on the icy gravel outside my own door to my more far-flung adventures in the Arctic to conversations with middle-school students about climate change to, finally, building resilient communities, I hope that I can help awaken at least some of our collective ecological selves.
Now, time to strap on the microspikes and get out that door.