During the heart of the great depression, in 1930, the city of New York built a water tower to supply the needs of its growing suburban population. For 70 years it was kept full, from a pump beside it, that reached deep into the ground beneath Queens to tap a vast aquifer beneath the borough.
Rapid urbanization has its pitfalls and by the year 2000 the water below it was no longer considered safe to drink. At that time Queens was then able to tap into the upstate reservoirs, that already supplied drinking water to most of the city.
For 10 years this Jamaica landmark has stood empty and worthless to the community that now looked elsewhere for its needs. After 80 years it is coming down today. For the next few days its demolition will create a snarl of traffic on 164th st and in turn have an affect on traffic throughout the neighborhood. This project will have no impact on the runners or the running of the race.
Except for a few ambling pedestrians and wayward dogs their way will be clear. No one is ever policing traffic around the route nor telling them when they must stop or are free to go. From 6 am until midnight the course is theirs to conquer or be conquered by. In truth those who would be subdued by it simply do not ever come here. The intimidating challenge of it is simply too great
Inside of them each day a demolition of their own takes place. What is removed from them almost with every step are their own limitations. The red flag comes up of course from time to time but it is being waved by a part of themselves.
It is not some external foe telling them to slow down or quit. Most often the culprit is their own minds which can rarely willingly give into such an incomprehensible undertaking.
The body can also sometimes be an even less willing instrument. Ultimately, when our inner obstructions are recognized for what they truly are, they can and must surrender to the heart and spirit within us all that simply does not accept impossibility at all.
Yesterday, but a breathless whisper separated Ashprihanal and Petr. It is the very nature of the race that the running family draws inspiration from one another and yesterday the obvious audible approach of Petr on his heels inspired him to do more. In this case he answered the intimacy of the challenge with a spectacular 74 mile day. In the grand scheme of the race the victory gong is far far from being unwrapped and pounded. Yet now it is clear that the motivation to reach even deeper within each of them will maybe find out what each truly has to offer.
Another treasured member of the 3100 showed up for the first time this year. Elmar, from Italy, for more than a decade has dedicated his summers off from teaching music to come and help.
Pranjal who has been battling blisters for many days now has a new weapon in his arsenal. He is still religiously applying the leaves but today he is trying some high tech waterproof socks.
Start Day 10
“The problem is I can’t run with it. I can only walk.” For the past 3 days it is clear that Surasa has been having shin splint problems. Yesterday she was only able to complete 41 miles, the lowest total of the race so far for her and yet one cannot help but be impressed with how cheerful she is.
She seems not to be bothered by this setback hardly at all. Her attitude remains positive and upbeat. In this current predicament she seems to be learning a unique lesson. “I have to learn to be patient.”
She has run thousands of miles before in previous competitions, but she says that only once before, and then only for one day, was she forced to only be able to walk instead of run. “I really do not have experience with such things.” She says the pain changes and sometimes can be felt in the foot and yesterday the pain was bothering her leg. She confesses, “it is difficult to describe. It started on the second day in the evening. I thought it would go away.”
Yesterday she had a massage that helped, “so today I can walk, much better than yesterday.”
When asked what kind of experience she thought the 3100 might be for her she says, “I had no fixed idea. I knew that things would be coming, that it was a difficult race, and that it is a special race. I like the race very much.”
I remark to her that many people might not understand how one can still be happy when at the same time they are experiencing so much discomfort. “This is the challenge. To be happy also with pain. If you can learn very easily, very good. It is so easy to be happy. You can really feel that you are in heaven.”
She is a perfect example of one whose current outer circumstances would be an ideal prescription for self imposed misery. Yet amazingly, she is somehow able to turn this notion completely upside down.
I ask her what technique she might teach others in order to achieve this same success. She confesses, “I am not so sure that I can do it,” while simultaneously dispersing the solemness of the moment with a good hearty laugh. She says she is also learning from the others who are running here. She observes and realizes that they are able to accept whatever experience comes to them, deal with it and attempt to simply move on till the next encounter. “This is also what I want to try and do.”
Before the race she had spoken about poor digestion and being tired. Yet she says that when she woke up on race day, “everything was gone. I felt light and happy.” Her description of the actual start, “It was just heaven, running, running, running. It is a special race. I was just grateful to be here and to run.”
She is also amazed at how much she enjoys the course itself, “it is so nice it is perfect. But if you see it with the outer eyes it is not really so nice. There are cars and everything. But all those things didn’t disturb me. I was only thinking that this course was so nice, so perfect, and this is a real surprise that you can think this.”
I am curious if she is thinking about what lies ahead for her here. She says, “I am trying not to think too much. I know you should think only of the next step.”
Surasa has a team of 3 girl helpers who rotate throughout most of the day. This morning Jaganmata is here and she is just delighted to be part of the 3100 mile experience. Her enthusiasm is amazing and seems to be reflected in all who come out and try to contribute to it.
“I plan a long vacation.
God plans my immediate Illumination.”
Race prayer June 22 2007
“It doesn’t matter what I am planning to do. What humanity is planning to do. God out of his immense compassion he plans our path, our illumination.” Pushkar recites the daily prayer and then proceeds to describe what it means to him. He is then inspired to speak more about his race experience here.
“Everything turns around this beautiful block. With the school, with the playground, with the field, but for me, it is not round any more. I am running from A to B. For me it is not laps. I don’t feel it as laps any more, since today. Something changed. It gives me much more peace. To really look to think that it is a journey from here to there.
If I look at the race like it is laps and laps than it is all laps. But the thing is that it is a journey. For me it helps me.
In the history of the race I am the only runner who tells the counters to not tell me my laps. Without these numbers it helps me to stay in the heart. And now it helps me even more to stay in my heart if I see the whole race as a journey. Like one big road towards the goal.
Of course I am aware that somehow I go around. It is not the circle anymore. To me it is so peaceful. It is such a nice feeling. I am really on a pilgrimage. It is not a race anymore. A pilgrimage towards myself. A pilgrimage towards my most treasured inner being.
I believe if I can stay sincerely in that world, I will be the happiest person.”
“All earth children sleep not.
Arise, arise, God has paved the way to paradise.”
Composed by Sri Chinmoy
Performed by Enthusiasm Awakeners
God wants me to embark
On one pilgrimage:
Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 26 by Sri Chinmoy
One response to “A Pilgrimage Towards Myself”
So beautiful to read and listen to, very inspiring. “A pilgrimage towards myself” I love that, gives me such a thrill.
Your interviews truly open up a door in to the heart of this race for us outside it. Thank You!