June 29: Experience That

Matt’s path has brought him here to the race quite a few times over the past 5 years.  He has been to the start of the race at least a couple of times.  But in all the previous occasions he had come out to this little corner of Queens he had never been here at the start of the race on an average day.

A day when it is just 14 groggy runners, a handful of official types, and of course the sun.  Rising magnificently up over the far eastern edge of the great city.

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He tells me that he had seen photos of the start of one of those average days. “They uniformly looked very peaceful and beautiful.  I wanted to experience that at least once.”

At precisely 6am as Rupantar calls out, “Go.” Matt takes his own picture of the start with his camera phone.   Then the two of us set of to follow the runners for one full loop at Matt’s pace.  Which is a steady even stride that moves at a pace where he can see and enjoy the world around him.  Not a dawdle and certainly not a sprint, but at a tempo so as to take in and absorb the world around him as much as he can.

And today he sees for himself the distant dawn light spilling across the hard cement rectangle loop.  The little weeds and flowers bathed in light, and all 14 the runners.  Each basked in radiance themselves, now shuffling off in front of us.

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Matt is one of those rare sorts of persons who you might perhaps classify as an original adventurer.  It is not a perfect label but it just might stick long enough to get to know him a little better and get some idea of the kind of task that he has set out for himself.  It is one that began close to 2 and half years, and hundreds and hundreds of miles ago.

Back then he decided he would walk on every single street of the 5 boroughs of New York, something that has never been done before.  It is a distance of something like 8,000 miles he reckons, but one that has taken him far longer than he expected.  Which in a way turns out to be its own reward for he wants to see and enjoy the city, the world, and life itself for himself.

He says that we are too often blindly accepting the world around us through somebody else’s interpretation.  So some years back he decided to see it for himself.  He doesn’t call it all some great spiritual or existential quest.

Instead he recognizes that it his life after all.  He could still be a civil engineer that he once was, but being stuck behind a desk, no longer became an option for him, a long time ago.  Many of us dream of all the things we would like to do or accomplish and then there are those who simply get out of the chair and go out the door and do it for themselves.

So Matt has sampled a lot of life over the past few years first hand. He has ridden the length of every track of the New York city sub way system.  Which if you were wondering, you just might be able to accomplish in a little over 24 hours.  He has walked across the country doing about 20 miles a day, and now he is chronicling  his quest to walk down every street in the city, and keep meticulous record of his journey as he goes out walking every day.

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Question: When you are running a marathon, are you experiencing suffering?

Sri Chinmoy: I get two kinds of experiences. On the physical, vital and mental planes, I get the experience which you can call suffering. It is an unpleasant feeling. From the beginning to the end, the body is being tortured. Again, there is also the inner experience. I feel that the outer experience which I am going through is something that my Inner Pilot wants me to do, and I surrender the results.

I know it will take me more than four and a half hours. But if I can offer the results to Him, then I am getting a divine experience, the experience of surrender. One experience I am getting on the physical, vital and mental planes, and another experience I am getting on the psychic plane. Whatever I achieve, cheerfully I will give to Him; this is my inner experience. The outer experience that I am getting is torture, right from the beginning to the end, but that also I am offering to Him. Both the inner and the outer experiences I am offering to God, my Inner Pilot.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 29, Agni Press, 2001

Yesterday so most runners running just a little less than usual.  The exception was Teekshanam who by running 112 laps ran more than he had since day 3 of the race.

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William is usually the first to arrive.  You see him hiking down the street with an assortment of bags in both hands.  He had some calf problems yesterday and he was massaged by his helper Tim last night.

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77 laps is not the kind of number he would like most definitely but he has been through rough patches in the past and will see this one through.

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Sarvagata looking more than a little tired shows up on his bike.

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Yuri getting his shoes ready.

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Vasu is quite often the last to arrive.

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Jayasalini and Sarah getting ready.

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The boys in the yellow van.

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Start Day Fifteen

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And yes, just like Matt Green described,  it is all peace and beauty on the course this Sunday morning June 29th.

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No one expects Sarvagata to run huge mileage every day but it does come as a bit of a surprise when he does a day like yesterday of 125 laps.

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Today he will pass 1000 miles sometime before noon.

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His performance is so powerful here that he seems to also have the ability to pull others along as well.  He is now 88 miles ahead of last year.

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Soon there will just be 2000 more miles to go.

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I don’t care what the rest of the flock says.  I am staying right here.

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Yuri has learned so much last year and is using it to his advantage.

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When I speak with Yuri this morning I ask him if he wants to just run or just talk.  He laughs, “a runner has to run and to talk.”

“Right now my body is still adapting to the pressure and so I am feeling the inner world even more.  Everything I feel in a more sensitive way.  Everything is becoming more subtle.”

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“I am running as I always do, here is an example, and I feel a sudden tremendous strength entering into me.  I feel it raising me up and also moving me forward with tremendous speed.”

“It is not ‘my’ body running, not ‘my‘ muscles.  It is a force within me making me run forwards.  This lasted for me about an hour and a half.  Then my mind began to work and starts to say, ‘what are you doing?  You are going to break something.’

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“This force, as slowly as it entered me in the same way it slowly disappeared.”  He points to the corner where this is experience happened.  How an unknown strength descended upon him there.

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“It was right here.  I began to feel that I am beneath this huge sense of protection.”  He describes as it as something completely surrounded and encompassed him.  “All my fears and all my doubts had left me.  I began to feel happiness.”  He laughs as he recalls this experience now.  A wide bright smile on his face, “happiness just like this.”

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He feels so much encouragement and support from his friends in Vynnitsia but also from all over Oneness Dream Boat Shore.  “Not only letters.”  He says whenever they meditate on the runners and the race, no matter where they are, he feels it here, on the track.

“No matter how hard it gets here I feel as though I am on the same vibration as the people who have oneness with the race, even if they are far away.  It becomes easier and I feel as though I am getting help from them.”

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“Inside of my heart for all my friends and all of my helpers there is a special place.  And that place is a place of gratitude.  It is a place of oneness.  It is a place of joy.  I feel oneness with these people.  It is fabulous.”  He adds that as much as he receives from others he in turn is trying to offer all that he has and all that he is back in return.

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Yuri has a broken filling which is now cutting his tongue.

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He also tries to sort out some email issues with Sahishnu.  His daughter wants to send him some pictures.

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None of it takes very long.  He is 30 miles ahead of last year.

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Stutisheel had a hard day yesterday.  84 laps.

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The hard days will come to everyone here from time to time. He walked mostly yesterday.

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Stutisheel just keeps going on no matter what.

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Pranjal says now that he has been here for 2 weeks now the race, “has finally started.”

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The conditions have been ideal so far.  No rain for 2 weeks, at least during the day time.

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He did 122 laps yesterday, his best since the first day.

He talks about the kind of world that develops around him.  It is one that never changes.  That time itself takes on a whole new sense when your life is completely absorbed in the moment.

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He is 9 miles ahead of last year.

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Last year Sarah had 812 miles and now she has 889.

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She did 111 laps yesterday.

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She is focused when she has to and when she needs to play she has time for that as well.  She knows she can best Champ the dog at tug of war

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So so impressive this year.

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Vinaya has brought Champ out today to the race.

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He has also brought his harmonica.

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Baladev keeping with his formula of a little more rest at night is finding that it works.

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He had 111 laps and now has 872 miles.  77 more than last year.

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Vasu tells me that he flew again today when I had left the course for a while

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He is being careful and is making sure that he is fully recovered.

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I caught him taking a short break around noon with his legs elevated.

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Being happy is so important for Vasu and for all the runners.

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Vasu is accepting of whatever happens to him here.

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Even in the struggle there is beauty.

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Sopan saw an acupuncturist yesterday to try and sort out his problems.

“Last few days we have been exchanging short conversations with Vasu as he has been having very difficult times me too outwardly and inwardly. I feel that sharing these difficulties creates such a bond among us and inner support and trust… I also feel that the most difficult times in the race bring forward the best in us and in this way we make progress and like this we inspire one another to continue forward.”

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What do you mean you want me to move those garbage bags over there.  I haven’t got hands

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Suprabha is in town for the weekend.  She ran a few laps with Jayasalini.

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Jayasalini running simply a beautiful race.

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She is so consistent.  She did 109 laps yesterday.

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I also caught Suprabha running with Nidhruvi

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She had 103 laps yesterday.

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She also had a little dog time.

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She chews gum a lot and tried to blow a bubble.

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Still having the time of her life.

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Upasana playing her flute for the runners.

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Jowan taking pictures.

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There is not just lots to see but lots to listen to.

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Keeping in focus as much as you can.

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Teekshanam had those wonderful 112 laps yesterday.  He has 836 miles.

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William has his friend Tim with him for the next week.   He has crewed for William before.  He should be a great addition to William’s performance and to save him time.

He can do the little things like locking the door to the house in the morning when he leaves.  Something nobody does in Sanday.

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Ananda-Lahari turns the corner.

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Happiness incarnate.

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Ray is now happily into his 2nd week here.  He has a friend with him for much of the day.

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Lots of moving and lots of talking.

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I first met Matt Green and his friend Jason 5 years ago, when they arrived with a bus load of people on the far side of the course.  He says, “I think I first heard about the race the summer before.  It was a mystery bus tour and the theme was, “A Quest For Immortality.”

None of the passengers had any idea what was happening. “They had no idea what they were going to do for the day.” As they walked around they were asked to figure out what was happening here.

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He remembers that nobody had any clue at all what was happening.   On the far side with no score board or vehicles it would just look like a group of runners simply going in the same direction.  “Nobody batted an eye just seeing people jogging around the block.  They weren’t aware even that they were looking at anything.”

When they got to Thomas Edison High school he read from a great article on the race that had been printed in Harpers Magazine a year or so earlier.  “The introductory paragraphs of that were the perfect way to let people know what was happening slowly.”

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“You could see as I read that to them that some people’s jaws just dropped.”  He describes that for those people on the tour that walking around the course as they did would really offer no clue as to what was actually taking place.  “There is nothing to capture your eye.”

“That was something that always fascinated me about this race.  That the visual of it doesn’t tell the whole story at all.” He describes that at big sporting events with all the hype and images that you can easily tell what it is you are seeing.  Here it is much more subtle.  “You have to sit and absorb it to understand what is happening here.”

I ask him what he feels is happening here.  “I am not sure exactly.”

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“Sometimes I will return to some natural beautiful spot that I have been to before.  I have experienced this lets say in the Rocky mountains in Colorado.  There is also a little island in Lake Superior that I go camping.  Those are 2 places that I remember where, despite the fact that I know in my head.  That these are some of the most beautiful places that I have ever been.  When I go back to them I still can’t believe.  My memory is simply not capable of storing all the beauty that I find there.”

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“I feel that this race is very similar.  I come out here a number of times during the summer.  Then I don’t think about it any more throughout the year and then the next summer comes up.  Then I start thinking that I will come out for the first day.   Every year I am stunned when I am out here on the first day.  And I am stunned that I can’t remember what that feels like.  But I know that there is something amazing about the race.  I am just not sure what it is.”

“Truly this is one of my favorite things that happens in New York.  I am not sure why there aren’t more people who come out here and take it in.”

Click to See Matt’s I’m Just Walking Blog:

I’m Just Walkin

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The prayer of the day.

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Enthusiasm-Awakeners

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Song of the day

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God speaks to us most clearly
Through each and every experience
That we receive from Him.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 2, Agni Press, 1998

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2 Comments to “June 29: Experience That”

  1. Francesco says:

    Hi Utpal
    thank you.

    Because we are eternal pilgrims,
    Always we have to go forward — Expanding and transcending.

    Sri Chinmoy, 13618 Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 14, Agni Press, 1999

  2. Alexey Beysov says:

    The article that Matt Green and Utpal were mentioning (there’s also ‘Download PDF’ in the top left corner).

    http://harpers.org/archive/2007/08/run-like-fire-once-more/

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