“I went to the woods because I wished to run deliberately, to front only the essential facts of the trail, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I reached the end, discover that I had not adventured. I did not wish to run that which was not running, as running is so dear; nor did I wish to run on pavement, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to run wild and devour all of the M&Ms at the aid station, to run so sturdily and Krupicka-like as to remove all that was not mountain, river, or stinging nettle, to thread through rocks and skim over roots, to drive the run into a corner and reduce it to its purest form….”
My apologies to Thoreau, who is probably rolling over in his grave at my inelegant appropriation of a passage from his Walden. I’ve read the book, and quite liked some of it. I’ve included his original passage below, just to give the late author full credit and to provide the baseline from which my stolen verse evolved. I wish I could say that my re-write came as I ran through the woods on my most recent trail race, but that half-marathon was kicking my ass – there was no thought through my head other than finishing to stop the pain. Instead, my over-active brain started playing with the “I went to the woods” line today while I was working on a production line. A few hours of that bouncing between my ears got you the poor Thoreau knockoff above.
I also got to wondering….so many people talk about letting their minds roam or meditating while they’re out running in the woods. I find that – while I’m running – I’m either too busy suffering or trying to catch my breath enough to hold a polite conversation with some other poor soul who has found themselves sharing the same section of trail with me to even think about deep, meaningful things.
So tell me, do y’all get lost in thought while trail running, or are you too busy wheezing and worrying about bears for all of that thinking stuff?
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) American Author