June 30 I Could Not Ask For Anything Better

miami beachThis evening in Miami there is going to be a major league baseball game.  The Miami Marlins are going to host the Washington Nationals in Landshark stadium.  It is a  building which can host about 38,000 people.  There is every reason to suspect that there will be a great turnout this evening though there is a chance of thundershowers which could happen as well here in New York.  Schools are out across America right now and kids are looking for events in which to have fun.  In fact, this is the season when a lot of folks, both big and small, are thinking hard and planning at length for the ideal summer vacation.  Looking forward to a chance to do nothing at all.

landshark stadiumThe distance to Landshark stadium is just over 1000 miles.  Right now, if most of the runners had been heading south instead of around this hard little concrete block in Queens they could be there right now.  Of course no one here is thinking much about entertainment or pleasure of any kind really.  The concept of just doing nothing is a luxury that none can afford, not even for a  casual moment.  Their thoughts may meander but their feet do not.  They may be thinking of baseball and beaches and millions of frivolous things from time to time but mostly they do not.  Their focus is only on the next lap and then the next one after that.  Their minds may wander but never their feet or their hearts.


Few will witness what they will do here this evening.  A handful will come by tonight to hand them treats, sing songs, and wish them well.  Mostly they will share the miles with themselves and a dark sky with its threatening showers.  We all hope of course that it remains dry but it might not.  Our encouragement of them counts for something but their courage, selfless action, and heart felt dedication of their entire beings to Self-Transcendence here is much more powerful than the sum total of a world of  best wishes.  They are challenging the limits of the physical while at the same time embracing the unlimited power of the spirit.  For those of us who watch, it is spectator sport that costs nothing.  Our only admission to this, is our hearts oneness with all those who run.

grahak footsup laughGrahak starts the day playing close attention to his blistered foot.  He can’t afford not to take every precaution.  Right now he is more than 50 miles ahead of last years record pace.  Suprabha is 4 miles up on last year.  She is finding something funny this morning to laugh at.

poemstart. june 30JPG

Today, on this his 17th day of running Ananda-Lahari Zuscin will complete 1000 miles.  When you look at this 34 year old runner from Kysak Slovakia you cannot help but think that he has perhaps the best physique of all the runners to participate at this distance.  anan 6He is both light and strong, and in the evenings, when he sometimes unleashs the full power of his speed, he is lighting quick and moves effortlessly.  In the mornings he tends mostly to walk, and at this moment, as we move around together, I am humbly grateful for this languid pace.

When I ask what he hopes to achieve in this his 5th year he says, “to run as much as possible.”  He adds, “For me this year is a very interesting experience.  My miles are not so good, as they should be but somehow I am not disturbed.  I have had problems with running.  Usually all day I walk and then run very fast in the evening.”

anan  schoolRecently it was suggested that he might be deficient in iron so has started taking some supplements.  Now he says, “My legs are stronger and I can run better.”  He feels that his experience in the race each year is getting better.  He believes that now he is, “More in tune with himself.  It is like somehow there is more harmony within.”

He is not satisfied with his daily mileage so far.  His goal is to do average 61 miles a day, currently he is doing 59 .  When I check his mileage later I note that he is nearly 100 miles ahead of last years race.  When I mention how he feels about completing 1000 miles he says simply, “It is a good thing there is 2000 miles ahead of me.  I have plenty of time to get better.”

Ananda-Lahari interview

vajra. 30JPGIf you had just got up from sleeping  and then came down to breakfast, Vajra is just the kind of person most would like to first meet in your kitchen in the morning.  In the case of the runners, the breakfast, lunch, and diner area,  is a metal table perched on the edge of a hard sidewalk.  He seems to be always smiling, is always patient and kind, and his summers over the past 10 years seems to be only about helping the runners of the 3100.

vajra milkHe displays food as if it was intended for royalty.  Most often it is snatched on the fly, and most might little notice how delicately and carefully it had sat there.

This morning I catch up with him as he is picking up trash.  He makes his way slowly and carefully around the entire loop every day.  When I ask him what it is like to do this the humblest of all jobs here, he says, “I feel that the runers should be running, as Parvati so put it, in heaven and not in hell.” He feels that the cleaner the course the easier it will be for the runners.  He calls this task, “It is pure joy, absolute joy, I could not ask for anything better.”

vajra 3When I wonder if his job ever gets boring he strongly disagrees.  “The best part is just getting up in the morning and feeling that there is anew experience waiting for me, doing the same thing I did the day before.  There is always something you should be able to find a bit different in what you you did yesterday in what you are going to do again today.”  He tells me with such humility and sweetness, “even if it is just giving someone an extra smile as they pass by.” Vajra interview

kodanda 1kodandaWith school no longer in session there is an added quiet to the course early in the morning.  Other than the constant dull thrum of the Grand Central Parkway, the sounds of nature are more delicate and sweet.  He may not be a bird but when Kodanda plays early, as he does most days, he sounds at one with the melody of life here.   Kodanda playing

vlady 2vladyVladimir Balatskyy is running not just well here but extremely well.  He displays no sign that he is a first timer.  His preparation both physically and mentally has been superb.  He has consistently averaged on or about 65 miles a day.  Yesterday he completed his first 1000 miles in the race which was already nearly 400 further than he had gone before.  Of breaking the 1000 he says, “It is a new experience and no one can take it away. I did it, but I still have 2000 miles before me.”  He smiles with real joy.  He tells me with some sweetness they took a picture of him when he passed 1000 miles.  I suspect there will be lots more miles and pictures in the days ahead. Vlady interview

bannerpar g1The par g2par g4Enthusiasm Awakener banner is barely in place before two mysterious gentleman show up.  One appears to be wearing a traffic cone on his head.

par gMuch to everyones surprise the mysterious hat wearing individual is none other than race leader Asprihanal.  Now the hat miraculously becomes a trumpet and placed to Grahak’s lips.


The end parvati1result another successful performance. Grahak skit

Parvati’s Group

flower 1

My Lord,

Can You not do something better

Than thinking of me all the time?

“My child,

I simply do not want to do

Anything else.”

Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 2 by Sri Chinmoy.

One response to “June 30 I Could Not Ask For Anything Better”

  1. The Enthusiasm-Banner makes me cry, I feel as I am right on the spot. Parvati’s Group is all Grace too. Today we practiced a song that Sri Cinmoy composed on July 4th two years ago. “All Your Grace, All Your Grace, All Your Grace, All Your Grace, My Lord Beloved Supreme, All Your Grace, All Your Grace, My soul and I are able to join in Your birthless and deathless Race.”

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