Something happened yesterday that cannot be explained. On Sunday, 9 out of the 10 runners ran more laps than they had the day before. The only one who didn’t run more laps on Sunday was Surasa ,who ran exactly 110 laps the same as she has run every day for the past week. What make this peculiar event noteworthy is that the average lap numbers didn’t just go up a little, they went up a lot. Averaged out over the 9 runners it works out to be 7 more laps per person than the previous day.
Now if that seems like a lot you are right. In some cases there were big jumps that helped bump up the average. Purna Samarpan, now recovering from a cold went from 85 laps to 110, adding a whopping 25 to the count. Pradeep who had an off day on Saturday went from 92 to 111. I am not a statistician but I am sure the odds of such an event happening are off the charts, particularly when you consider that everyone has been out here for 15 days now.
If the weather had somehow improved in any way from the day before than the source of renewed vigor in the runners legs could be identified, but it didn’t. Essentially the weather conditions on Sunday were identical to Saturday. Same temperature, humidity, wind and all the usual weather data.That on Sunday there was less distractions from traffic and people possibly, but certainly it couldn’t have accounted for that much of an improvement.
My own theory, at least the one that seems to make any kind of sense at all is that you had 4 runners yesterday who were the first to push through the 1000 mile mark. Now there will be 4 digits beside each of their names instead of 3. There is still more than 2000 miles and 2/3rds of the race to go but it is still something satisfyingly symbolic It in some way demystifies the distance and perhaps you can really feel that from now on the impossible goal in front of you is from now on just a little less impossible. Mentally at least the numbers crunch just that more easily.
The other important thing to understand is that everyone who runs is acutely tuned to everyone else. They are a family and a team climbing up into stratospheric levels that few can even possibly imagine. When energy and motivation are high everyone feels it. Just as when someone is suffering than they all collectively feel and identify with the suffering and pain as well. What happens here is not one person surpassing someone else but rather how they all collectively share each others victory. For perhaps nestled in the heart of self transcendence itself is something really special. Something, that once you have stepped past all the mundane numbers and all the facts, is what we all are striving for, oneness with the universal goal.
This kind of thing is something you can only really notice if you examine the laps sheets. Most certainly the 4 runners at the top of the board all ran more laps yesterday. Ashprihanal an additional 9, Pranjal an extra 5, Igor had 3 more and Sarvagata had one more lap.
There is simply never enough praise that can be offered to all the cooks who prepare food all day long and all summer long for the race. They are the ultimate behind the scenes people who are so crucial and yet so invisible except for the endless supplies of fresh food that somehow finds its way over to the race. In unimaginable variety, in inexhaustible amounts, and yet defined by one singularity. Each and every creation is delicious and nutritious.
Nirjharini has been the master chef now for many years. This is the second summer she has tied up her apron in the current location and she and her assistants spend so much time in the snug, immaculately clean facility that it must by now appear to her as her summer home instead of Freiberg Germany.
One cook, Ujjwala escaped the camera lens this morning but chief shopper Snigdha was present as well as all around helper and an excellent runner herself, Karnayati. They all were in a momentary lull in their usual busy schedule and were glad to give me a little tour.
Nirjharini calls Snigdha the worlds greatest shopper. In order to get this title I presume it takes not just superior skills at vegetable and fruit acquisition but also a tireless and cheerful manner in doing it as well.
Many mornings each week she has to go to a local market and pick up a carload of produce. “My shopping list today, are 2 bags of zucchini, 2 celery, 2 bunches of basil, 2 bags of carrots, 4 head of lettuce, 3 green peppers, 12 red peppers, lemons and a watermelon, and a case of bananas. This is a small list.”
She says the market actually looks forward to her when she comes. She started doing this job last year and in order to explain why she was purchasing food in such great quantities she simply brought over a video of the race to show them. “They couldn’t get over it, and in their own way they feel like they are also participating.” They are also very helpful in carrying all the heavy sacks and boxes out to her car.
Karnayati is a very experienced ultra runner herself and from time to time makes some suggestions about some menu selections. She says of Nirjharini, “she thinks of the runners constantly. There is very little extra that I have to offer.”
When I ask if there is any one dish that has been most successful Nirjharini says, “the thing is the runners are so different. One runner may have something as a favorite and the other doesn’t like it. They are really very individual, but it is great. They all tell us what they like, and we try our best to give what we can.”
The secret ingredient to all their food preparation is something we all might like to have a little more of. Snigdha says, “everyone in here is happy. We can cook here all day long. Nirjharini can be happy all day being in the kitchen.”(Laughter by all)
Karnayati adds, “I came back from last year because it is such a light and fun and beautiful place to be.”
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/cook.mp3|titles=cook]
My conversation with Ananda Lahari began very philosophically. We were discussing how people seems to have an endless appetite for information. He says, “I know what we are doing with this information. We are trying to make ourselves happy. They think that if they know, then they can do better things, and we can become happier, but this is probably wrong.”
“We should become what we truly are, an aspiration flame. We should become love itself, joy itself, happiness itself. I think we are all trying to do it, in different ways. Probably every body is right in his or her own way. All our efforts are because we want to be more happy.”
So I ask the obvious question, is he happy? “Yes, BUT. It has to disappear BUT. I believe that I am happy but there is always more happiness that you can get. You can always realize something.”
He has been running this race for quite a few years but it seems that it is in his wish to be able to run faster that in fact is the ‘BUT,’ in his race. “I think it is slowly disappearing this BUT.”
I ask him why his numbers seem to go up and down every day. “From the first 10 days I felt that everything was okay. Everything was fine it was like a training camp for me, so that I would become used to the concrete and run fast. Then I don’t know what happened and I wasn’t happy. I knew I was supposed to run and I couldn’t. One day I had 67 miles and the next day I just walked.” He speculates that it could have been caused by some new supplements he was taking. He had some digestion problems that seemed to slow him down. “My digestion was not good for the past few days, it only got better yesterday.”
I ask him if all the new runners have added anything to his own run here this year. “I am having my own race definitely, but it is really really impressive to see how they are doing. Everybody is doing really well. It is really impressive what is happening here.”
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Ananda-Lahari-interview.mp3|titles=Ananda Lahari interview]
Recited by cooks
Click to play[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/cooks-and-poem.mp3|titles=cooks and poem]
Click to play[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Enthusiasm-Awakeners2.mp3|titles=Enthusiasm Awakeners]
Do you want to be happy,
Then just think
Of your outer life less,
A little less,
And live more,
A little more,
In your inner life.
Sri Chinmoy, Seventy -Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 5, Agni Press, 1998.
2 responses to “June 27: To Be More Happy”
Inspiring work Utpal, the food is always delicious can you do a story on the “habits”-
spinning the prayer wheel, dinging the gate, Asprihanal always patting the trees.
Utpal – the most trusted name in inspiration news. Thanks for all your work! It great but… no buts, just kidding 🙂