“…there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love *running*. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you’ve got, being patient and forgiving and… undemanding…maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that getting better at one could make you better at the other.”
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Even Jorge Luis Borges’ fictional 1:1 scale map contain deletions and generalisations. This is the value of the metro system in a new city, a map of the world, or a map indicating climate, population or some other variable – we omit many features.
We can navigate standardised landscapes by GPS, following roads bearing combination of letters and numbers; at its best this is functional and efficient. At its worst, it’s soulless. Mostly it depends on what you are using the map for.
What’s to be said, if anything, for getting your bearing in the textured idiosyncratic features of the landscape? What’s the value of personal and collective associations with place, transient landmarks known to only a few people, maybe even one person; what Guy DeBord called ‘psychogeography.
The medieval epic, ‘Sweeney Astray’*, is about a king who loses his reason and runs disorientated helter-skelter around Ireland and Britain. Not knowing where he is coming from or where he’s going, Sweeney is proverbially ungrounded. He believes himself to be a bird living in the trees.
Sweeney recovers his bearings, though reconnection with geography, community, and stories of place ( dindsenachas’ *)
Aware puts the number of people in Ireland dealing with depression at 300,000.
While there there is no one solution, conceptual metaphors in action might be useful, as long as they are see they seen as just that, images for thinking and action : Mental ill health is often described in terms of darkness and gloom. It is also sometimes described as an eclipse of meaning, a feeling of being lost, of being unable to situate oneself.
So, remembering that this is metaphor, the question is getting some light and of establishing centering points of gravity useful in illuminating our way individually and collectively.
While it’s great to get a broad sampling there’s always someone trying to convince you they’ve got the ‘important’ reference points, the right map, the right direction. My thinking on this is that every community, every individual is their own best cartographers of meaning
* Originally Buile Shuibhne (available in Seamus Heaney’s translation as Sweeney Astray)
* Dindseanchas (pronounced din.shanah.cas )natural or constructed reference points, stories and associations with specific places, the interaction of community and environment
Lose the run of yourself’ is one of those particularly Irish phrases that isn’t so easy to translate. It means something like ‘forgetting what is important’; ‘forgetting where you come from’, ‘losing a sense of proportion’, ‘become ungrounded’.
Irish people point to the excesses and imbalances of Irish society, and say so and so has ‘lost the run of themselves’.
But rather than cluck our tongues, what would it mean to ‘find the run of yourself’?
I’ve trained as both a running coach, and as a life coach; this blog is an ongoing meditation on what the physical and metaphorical sense of place, refrence points and grounding mean.