Joyous and Swift

I’ve been a long-distance runner for a long time, since I was eleven years old. And in recent years, I’ve even taken to running ultra-marathons, distances of up to 100 miles. It’s a peculiar practice, one that I won’t try to justify or explain. Suffice it to say that I like to run long distances in the mountains, and on occasion, I’ll disappear for hours on end.

It’s a sport designed for people who like to talk to themselves. And I am certainly one of those. If you ask a long-distance runner what they think about during their runs, the answer will probably sound something like the book report of a middle-school kid who never bothered to read the book. “Well, um, you know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. It’s kind of hard to explain.”

I like to meditate. And I like to run. But never the twain shall meet. When I run, I let my monkey mind do its thing. Or, if I’m on a rocky trail, my focus is a few feet in front of me, making sure I don’t fall on my face. But sometimes, at the end of a long, long run, or at the end of a long, long race, I need a little positive self-talk. The legs ache, the feet scream, and the brain lulls. But in those moments, there’s always a mantra I can say to myself in a state of exhaustion to put some pep in my step.

“I am joyous and swift.”

Sometimes I’ll mix up the way I whisper it to myself:

“I (breath breath breath) am joyous and swift”

“I … am joyous (breath breath) I … am swift.”

“I am joyous (breath breath) swift.”

“I (breath) am (breath) joyous (breath) I (breath) am (breath) swift.”

There’s something about the expression, “joyous and swift,” that makes me feel, well, joyous and swift. I love the way it rolls off the tongue and makes me want to bounce along the ground barefoot. Even when everything else I’m feeling at that moment tells me the opposite, the mantra says everything I want to be.

It’s a sentiment worthy of our aspirations. And so, too, a worthy name for a blog. I only hope my writing can live up to the sentiment.