Jogging Past

My Saturday afternoon routine generally involves a midday run followed by herring on heavy dark bread that I make myself. Akvavit and/or beer aid the digestive process. I look forward to Saturdays. This little routine sets this day apart from others and the lunch serves as a nice crown to the jog. This last Saturday was one of those odd days when it was the run rather than the lunch that stuck out.

We had some snow this last week, and so my run meant negotiating sidewalks that haven’t been cleared, people walking their dogs, and folk forging forward in the direction I run. In more clement weather, these latter are no problem. I simply slide from sidewalk to lawn, or perhaps the street and sneak by without their knowing. When the lawns are full of snow, it isn’t so easy and so I try to slip around them while staying on the beaten path. This is more difficult than one would imagine, because people gravitate to the center of the sidewalk when they don’t see anyone coming toward them. There isn’t, then, much room for passing. As I slither past them, I give often give them a fright. Sometimes I try to make noise before I arrive, but that too shocks them. I feel bad about this. But this last Saturday it got me thinking.

When we walk, we tend to anticipate meeting people in front of us. It is as if we imagine the future before us, and the past behind us; and it is really the future we need to look out for. But my running reminds me that sometimes it is the past that sneaks up on us. We often imagine that the past is spent, but as Faulkner notes: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” (Requiem for a Nun) This invites us to walk differently. Treading softly we hear the ever present past; seeing peripherally we discern history’s advance; being aware we develop that sixth sense – the ways of the wise in our midst who have learned to anticipate the unexpected, to dance with a ghost.

But perhaps I have made too much of a jog. After all, all of this is but a trope. Yet tropes too have truck with truth. At the very least, it gave me something to chew on after lunch, which I washed down with a nice cup of black coffee, warming and fortifying me for an afternoon with books theological.

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10 thoughts on “Jogging Past

  1. shoreacres says:

    I’m just like a spaniel, always dragging in a bit of Eliot like a wet sock. But here it is – the first thing that came to mind when I read your post. (I would have brought along Faulkner’s famous line, but you already used it.)

    Time past and time future
    Allow but a little consciousness.
    To be conscious is not to be in time
    But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
    The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
    The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
    Be remembered; involved with past and future.
    Only through time time is conquered.

    Eliot’s the best I know at capturing timelessness in the midst of time. His “still point in a turning world” does the same. I’m not a jogger, but I’ve read enough to suspect that the experience of being “in the zone” is related.

  2. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks, yes I find running and painting, too, to have these moments. It is less so with writing, although from time to time this too obtains. Thanks for the gorgeous Eliot quote. This brings me to say thanks again for the Eliot link you sent me some time ago. It caught me in the midst of a fury, and so I was not able to spend the time with it that I was wanting. This afternoon looks like it might afford some time, so I will dig a little further into what has already proven to be both intriguing and delightful!

  3. Marie Taylor says:

    What a lovely insight. We carry the past with us always. I like how it sneaks up on us sometimes – and may beguile or trip us, as the case may be. Marie

  4. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for commenting Marie. Yes, sometimes it beguiles us, but sometimes too (perhaps more often than we realize) it bears us along.

  5. diannegray says:

    I love the analogy you use here. The past does sometimes catch up with us and even if there is a warning ‘I’m coming!’ it can still give you a fright. This is deep thinking at it’s finest! 😀

  6. dianerivers says:

    There you go again: “Yet tropes too have truck with truth.” Your writing is just a delight!

    I’m currently reading about the concept of “sanctifying one’s past”. It’s fascinating to me and a necessary purification process, as I am someone whose past won’t stay there.

    Very thought-provoking post (and a most useful trope!)

  7. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for your encouraging words! Who is the author? Sounds fascinating. I suspect many of us have a pesky past, with which we have not yet broken bread.

  8. jannatwrites says:

    Great analogy here! The past can sneak up on us, but it’s so true that the past is never really over…especially when we forcefully bury it and will it to be gone 🙂

  9. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks Janna. It seems that burying it – at least when it is difficult – is what we prefer to do and understandably so. We need other ways to relate to it, as hard as they may be.

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