There is at the race, a very basic rule of math. These shoes, belonging to these feet and legs and then attached to human beings, moving relentless onward will make these numbers grow every so inexorably greater. There is no science however that can speak to, or explain, the journey taking place within them all.
Sri Chinmoy once said of Ananda lahari, “he has the best smile.” When he is running around the loop he can make it look effortless. It looks as though the earth, sometimes has no claim over him, and that he could just as easily move above and beyond the clouds.
Yet as he moves ever closer to completing 500 miles and then beyond, there are times as well when he looks as mortal and frail as the average Joe, trudging towards the bus stop. This is a perception that is not correct. He has completed this race 4 times now, and will surely complete his 5th.
On this his 9th morning here he is walking stiffly in the early hours of the morning. It is to be expected, for in the past week he has gone through a lot getting into the rhythm of the race. He had, what he believes, was a fever early. He says, “After the first day I was sick. I thought it was because of the race. The shock of the body getting used to the race. Now I think it was just some kind of flu.” His pace has been erratic, though his overall mileage is good. “I am still not settled. I have moments when I can hardly move and moments when I can run pretty well. There is some soreness in my legs but I believe it will go away.” A visiting Doctor had provided him with a cure which he believes changed his condition dramatically.
We pass Kodananda, who comes out to the race every day at different times, but certainly has been here early every day. He plays a variety of instruments and Ananda lahari says of his music, “I love it. I really love it. His music is a change, and his sincere love of music flows in and through and from him. It makes for a nicer atmosphere. He brings forward something divine.”
Out here he feels he is constantly learning and appreciating more the little universe that is the race loop. “This race teaches you to like small things which you don’t see in your daily life.” I ask him what in particular, and he mentions the obvious, “rain for example,” and we both laugh. It has been an unusual but an almost constant event in the past 8 days. He adds, “sometimes I appreciate the trees. I appreciate the people who are helping at the race. The small kids playing in the playground and the people playing all kinds of games in the sport field, and the course in general.”
You could not find one runner who does not eventually feel a closeness an affinity if not love for this simple hard half mile loop. Many have come over the decade plus the run has taken place, and all have struggled and celebrated with its unyielding surface, but all have relished and been inwardly moved by the greater experience that cannot help but take place, in their lives. Ananda Larhari mentions some of the places he likes in particular and describes the pine tree on the corner and the entrance to the school at night which he describes as a sheltered and quiet place. He does confess one thing to me, “still I don’t like the concrete. The sidewalk is very hard.”
He feels the race has taught him to look at his world quite differently. “Before the race problems would look huge. Now they don’t look like problems at all.” He feels the race has given him the capacity to deal with lots of things with confidence and assurance that he might never have had before. He also believes that the nature of the race means he must conquer sleep and its sometimes unrealistic hold. He feels in particular that he is continually learning more about such qualities as humility and to have more oneness. He mentions as well patience and tolerance and as well the importance of laughter when all else fails.
“I am definitly a different person. I think to run one race is to live one lifetime. In the outer point of view it is just running around the block. But evey race is totally different. It makes me stronger. My body is getting stronger. Everybody who comes here is changing. “
Every day is compromised of so many kinds of experiences. Where everything, on one level, is infinitely more difficult than the regular world, at the same time sweetness, simplicity, and humor can pop up when you least expect it. Ashprhanal and Grahak were having a banana when just as they reached Parvati’s group they pretended to be monkeys.
God is at once
My heart’s unchanging cry
And my life’s changing smile.
Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 60 by Sri Chinmoy.