This is a warning (because I forget that young ears might listen to my podcasts) that I rightfully use some bad language in today’s episode.
2011 sucked. It sucked badly. I look forward to 2012 with hope and optimism.
Happy New Year to us all!
Today I’m announcing the winners of the contest I introduced last week, where I asked you to give me your interpretation of the lyrics to the song “This Ship Goes Down Deep”. THANK YOU for all the great responses, and CONGRATULATIONS to the winners, you’re copy of the CD should arrive shortly!
Go to http://blacklabworld.com/music/unplugged to purchase the new album for yourself (it’s also on iTunes).
I appreciate your support, but honestly you don’t have to buy my “Virtual Runners App” (well, you can…but you don’t really need it); because Phedippidations is FREE.
On the verge of celebrating my fiftieth year of experiencing metabolism; I am still an unfinished work in progress…with a long, LOONG way to go before I can claim any expertise in the art of human existing.
One area of interest that I’ve always been fascinated with is the culture and practice of religious spirituality: especially those practices unrelated and distant from the boundaries of Christianity: since that’s the way I happen to roll.
So, I’ve been reading, and listening to books, podcasts and online lectures on the topic of World Religions…and my first impression from the little that I’ve learned over the past year of our Lord is that they all have much in common.
But as I’m absorbing this stuff, there’s one philosophically significant form of spirituality that I think all classical religious groups could learn from, my own Roman Catholic Church included. Now that I think of it, I suppose every living human being could benefit from these teachings, and way of thinking, as a means for improving our lives and making the world a better place.
I’m talking about the teachings founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhi-dharma in the 5th and 6th century AD…something called, very simply: Zen.
As with running, and learning about wine: Zen is something you have to practice: A LOT, if you want to make any progress towards any kind of enlightenment…but from what I’m learning…it has a lot of offer each and everyone of us…regardless of our religious, political, geographical or societal origin.
Before you power off your MP3 player or SMAH-GHT phone in anticipation of another rambling diatribe from the podcaster best known for such rantings, let me assure you that this isn’t a tirade on the topic of Zen Buddhism, nor even about spirituality in general.
I just wanted to pass along one of the lessons of the Buddha, the enlightened one: which keeps coming back to me like a Black Lab song that I just can’t get out of my head.
This is a lesson about the truth of suffering, and the path that leads to the end of suffering. It has to do with staying well within the boundaries of extremes, and taking the middle path.
See, I’ve always been an extremist. Not satisfied with just running a few miles: I had to run a marathon, not happy just to lose a few pounds: in the summer of 1998 I dropped 70. I could give you a painfully long list of other examples where I couldn’t just sample a subject or study by dipping my toe in the cool waters of knowledge: I had to launch an armada of battleships, directly into the froth and fray; over and above the call of duty and decency until every last possible experience or understanding could be voraciously consumed.
I have within me the dangerous propensity of becoming obsessive….you probably can tell by the way I talk about wine so often. But I am getting better. I am finding the middle path.
There was a time, you’ll note, where the production of this podcast was something that I simply HAD to get done on a weekly basis…there was also a time, not far in the past, when I simply HAD to run five days a week, no excuses, and there was a time when I did not, nay…COULD NOT miss a single Boston Red Sox baseball game…you want to talk obsessive: I own the rights to the Tee-shirts and bumper stickers.
These are extremes, and of the many things I believe that the Buddha was absolutely correct about is that the path of extremes will always lead to suffering.
But then something happens that jolts you into the realization that you’ve been living your life in the wrong way. Your obsessive behavior has poisoned your soul, your opinion and attitude about how others eat and run, as an example, might become very close-minded and you lose track of all of the good that healthy eating and exercise might have given you if you had only followed the middle path.
I recently heard about this distance runner who had changed his diet and dropped a lot of weight. He had become completely obsessed with long distance and veganism. In moderation, along the middle path, distance running and veganism is certainly a good and wonderful way to live your life….but this guy talks about these topics as if any other opinion is deserving of violence! The story goes that this not-much-of-a-fellow-runner decided to help a friend complete a world famous ultra race; and when that friend could no longer run and had to drop out…the obsessed possibly militant distance runner took it upon himself to chastise and push the friend way too hard; forcing his own obsession onto the runner who had chosen the middle path.
I never want to be like that obsessed runner. I never want to force you or any of my friends into the extremes of anything. Living your life to the top does not mean: living your life above the atmosphere…to live your life to the top is to live it as best as you can, with quality and above all: happiness.
If I’ve ever come across to you (as I call myself “Steve Runner”) with an obsessive attitude of assumed authority, or given you the impression that you have to run a thousand miles a year, or finish a marathon in under four hours, in order to become enlightened and good…well, consider this my apology.
If running doesn’t bring you happiness, please do not run; for your own sake.
There are so many other ways to live a good and happy life. I believe, with all my heart: that this lifestyle I talk about is a worthy one, but I can’t be so ignorant as to believe that it’s the ONLY way to live your life to the top.
I’ve come to believe that running can help you to be happy, but only if you run the middle path.
I have a very long way to go, before I get anywhere near the nirvana of enlightenment, but this journey through space and time is a worthy endeavor. As the Buddha taught: life involves suffering, but it also promises happiness…and we can get there by avoiding the extremes of indulging our desires and torturing our mind and bodies.
The brilliant author, journalist and “new atheist” Christopher Hitchens just died, and it got me to thinking about my faith and the fact that the key historical events of my faith occurred only a few nanoseconds ago (in relation to the age of everything).
I don't think we should be getting all "hung up" on the giving and receiving of gifts during the holidays. I think WE are the gifts, and an emphasis should be placed on getting together with friends and family.
I’ve never done this before, but this new album by Black Lab ( http://blacklabworld.com ) is too good not to share. I’m giving away an album to the best/most interesting/deepest/or even funniest response to the questions: What is this song all about?
Listen to the song “This Ship Goes Down Deep” from the new Black Lab album “Unplugged” and post your thoughts in Twitter, Facebook, your Blog or the social interface of your choice…THEN let me know where to read it.
Pretty simple, right? We all interpret poetry and music differently, according to our perspectives in life. I’m interested in your interpretation.
Go to http://blacklabworld.com/music/unplugged to purchase the new album for yourself (it’s also on iTunes).
This morning at exactly 8:02 AM, as I was trying to get my two puppies into the back seat of my car while simultaneously juggling a laptop backpack, a cup of coffee AND my iPad…
I dropped and destroyed my iPad.
It’s just a “thing” (a cool thing mind you) but I got over it.
Fortunately, the story has a happy ending (on two counts).
Last week, a 43 year old friend and co-worker of the past 15 years died. It’s a sad time for all of us who appreciated him; but there is something to be learned when someone we care about passes away. We are reminded that we have an obligation to live our own lives well, and should not hold back from showing appreciation to those who we live and work with every day.
I'm putting together a "Holiday Special" for my next episode of Phedippidations; and for this I need to travel back to the past to prevent a terrible "regeneration". Let me know what moments from the past 6 and a half years you think have been important in the life of The Runner!
Today I’m out on a run and talking about the upcoming Fdip281 which is all about racing in wine country! THANK YOU to my friend Gordon Scott, who gave me the gift of Dr. Who!!
This weekend episode 281 of Phedippidations will hit you in the head, and this time we’re talking about running GRAPE RACES! (get it? Grape instead of Great…no? nothing?). So strap in and pour yourself some liquid grape as we talk about some of the races run through wine country.
I’m listening to a course, online, all about “WORLD RELIGIONS” and I am finding it BRILLIANT and fascinating. I love my faith, but I am not so ignorant to believe that I have “all the answers”, and this series of lectures that I’m listening to really reinforces this way of thinking that my parents taught me: appreciate everyone’s belief and opinion UNLESS they are being led astray in a “cult”. I cannot be ignorant to the perspectives of other people. YOUR idea of God is just as valid as mine (including those who do NOT believe). Bottom line: I respect your opinion.
My nephew is a plight on my family, and like some marauding parasite of Italian food, he comes into my parents home and eats all the food that we Who’s would so feast…he ate the Who-pudding, and the Rare Who Roast Beast!!
1. Here are some OUTSTANDING books on the topic of running: http://www.runrunlive.com/my-books
2. Here is some INCREDIBLE music to listen to as you run: http://blacklabworld.com/new-album-presale-unplugged
In the next week or two I’ll begin training for a certain Spring Marathon, that takes place in
Despite the incredibly crappy year of our Lord two-thousand and eleven, which I've just suffered through...I want to make it clear to anyone who might still be listening: that I have alot to be thankful for.
Those of us who have a spiritual side to our lives talk about "being blessed", which is the notion of being infused with spiritual redemption, divine will, holiness or Gods approval.
I honestly don't know if I can tell you that I've been blessed in such a way. I could tell you that I'm lucky, but I don't have alot of faith in luck, per se. Luck has to do with statistics, and statistics can be misleading.
If you're running a race, such as a marathon: I might wish you "good luck", but you don't need such an expression of hope: you've trained for your event, I can only wish that you don't fall or get pushed by some angry spectator during your run: but you don't need luck, your a runner...you need only the determination and indomitable spirit of which you already possess.
But having said all that, I want to get back to this idea of being thankful...because I do have alot to be thankful for, and it's important to me that I acknowledge that gratitude from time to time.
Of course I'm thankful for having a wife who loves me, as I love her. She's the person I will spend the rest of my life with, and I'm a better person because of her. I love you
Thank you for being my best friend in the world. Lynn
And yes, I have my family and friends to be thankful for....which I hope you'll consider yourself. I know, that's easy for me to say...it's what you've come to expect from a media personality who ensures you that we are, you and I: good friends. All I'm saying is that I'd enjoy going for a run and spending some time with you...together, in person, and if you think I'm some kind of media star who only talks about friendship to his audience of ga-zillions because there's a financial advantage to propagating that illusion, then: you've been listening to the wrong podcast...I consider it an honor to run with you. I'm hoping this upcoming year will be less dramatic and allow me to have more of a life...and that means meeting as many of you as I can.
But today I'm talking about what I'm thankful for, and let's be honest: every year someone like me comes along and rattles off a list of things that they're thankful for: over the past 6 years I've certainly done my share of that....so let's get off the old list just for this once, and let me tell you some of the not always talked about things in my daily life that I am thankful for, every day...because I bet you and I share some of these personal items of which we're grateful.
I'm thankful for dark roast coffee, a simple omelet with just a little cheese and maybe some ham.
I'm thankful for warm sunny days, and clear moonless nights where you can see all the stars of the Milky Way and ponder the size of creation.
I'm thankful for good wine, which is pretty much all wine with the definite exception of wine coolers and white "how can you drink that" zinfandel. That red stuff is quaffable, but I'm not thankful for that other concoction which should not be named.
I'm thankful for a good book.
I'm thankful for my running.
I'm thankful for a crackling fire, in my living room fireplace or outside in my pit.
I'm thankful for baseball, cold beer and a bag of peanuts.
I'm thankful for Doctor Who: the single greatest television show in the history of the cathode ray tube.
I'm thankful for Sushi.
I'm thankful for the Mojo Loco Movement.
I'm thankful for my puppies, Indiana Jones and her majesty Eva.
I'm thankful for music and for those who create it.
I'm thankful for my work, though stress-full at times...the challenge can be sometimes an adventure.
I'm thankful for inner peace; moments of serenity during the stormy gale when all around is growing dark and hope seems as lost as a steamer at a clam bake.
Now that I think of it, I'm thankful for steamers; and
lobster; Barnacle Billy Rum Punches
and beaches....any beach in fact. Maine
I'm thankful that I live in a small town without fear for my life (
drivers aside). Oxford
I'm thankful that I have food for my family and a place we call home.
I'm thankful that 2011 is almost over.
I'm thankful that I have this podcast, which I created out of pure thought and gave to you freely, without expectation.
I'm grateful that you'd listen to this, and might consider your own list of things that you are thankful for every day.
Because you and I fellow runner, we have alot in common. Our lives can be filled with joy and sorrow, happiness and pain...but no matter what happens from that daily moment that we first open our squeaky front doors: we all have something to be thankful for; and maybe it would make us better people if we took the time to at least acknowledge that, each and every day.
At midnight on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 24th) a new episode of my podcast PHEDIPPIDATIONS will be available. It's the show where I will most definitely JUMP THE SHARK!
This essay was originally published May 20th, 2007 on episode 97 “Monitoring of the Heart”
Every once in a while, I’ll be sitting in an office, or a waiting room, maybe even a restaurant, and I’ll see someone who clearly has lost their << joie de vivre>>, Their joy for life.
You’ve seen them too, look for them sometime: they’re the elderly person who engages in some repetitive routine, like playing Bingo or just watching TV all day. They are that smoker working on his or her second pack of the day, sitting outside a local convenient store staring at cars and people and clouds as they blow by. They are that unhealthy person hand coated in a dusty sheen of cheesy poofs while they “chew, chew chew” with a blank expression at nothing and no one in particular.
When you talk with them, they rarely have anything good to say. “Oh, it’s so cold today” or “It’s never been this hot before”, or “Can you believe the price of gas?”.
If you try to raise some positive aspect of life to them, such as “Well, at least it’s not raining!”, they will look at you with contempt.
These are not bad people, they’re just people who feel that they’ve lost their purpose in life. Some of them may be suffering from a form of depression.
Now, I’m not smart enough to come up with a list of ways for such people to regain their joy for life, I know for certain that financial organizations like the “Church of Scientology” would tell you that depression can only be cured by removing the sufferer’s covering of tiny disembodied souls of aliens dispersed by the Galactic Federation leader Xenu.
But I’m not here to put down anyone’s wacky beliefs, I’m sure there are plenty out there who think I’m wacky for eating a little wafer and drinking a sip of wine every Sunday morning…live and let live, and to each his own.
But I do know that depression is a very real thing, caused by a genetic predisposition, a neurological or medical condition, poor diet, alcohol, other drugs, lack of sleep, seasonal affective disorder and a postpartum condition.
I also know that there are many good and effective treatments for depression.
Since I’m a runner, I’m a believer in the positive mood altering benefits of exercise. Those who are depressed don’t necessarily need to become runners, but even light exercise can produce higher levels of chemicals in the brain, including dopamine and serotonin. A lower level of these chemicals in the brain have been found to lead to depression.
This is well known science; proven facts that Scientology conveniently ignores.
When we talk about having a noble purpose for our running, it might be helpful to think that for some, running can be a wonderful purpose for life. You’ve heard the expression: “we need to feel alive”, well…that only applies to runners like you and I in contrast to our daily usual existence.
To someone who is depressed, or has lost their << joie de vie>>, their need to feel alive is much more critical. They need to feel useful, needed, accepted and loved.
There’s that word again: It all comes down to love, doesn’t it?
When you strip away all the outer layers of crap that we wear, and hide ourselves under…the grim venire, the vacant uncaring expressions, the “I don’t care about anything” attitude…deep inside, like in one of those Jawbreaker candies with the multi-colored layers…there’s a human being who wants to be loved.
As someone who has found this special joy of running, you have an opportunity to spread that joy, to invite someone who might be depressed or have lost their joy for life to join us on the road. More than this, you have a responsibility to spread that joy…when you meet someone whom you’ve sensed may be depressed, or feels unhappy, unwanted and maybe even unloved, you have a duty to at least introduce them to the idea of exercise, and offer them the idea of joining us on the road.
Life is short, but it should be long enough…and everyone who is alive should FEEL alive, living their life to the fullest…not necessarily pushing back the window curtains and proclaiming their << joie de vie>> to the world, but at least feeling like they belong, like they have purpose, like they are loved….because everyone (even the elderly Bingo playing TV watcher, double pack smoker, cheesy poof paw chewing sedentary Scientologist…and yes, even Yankees Fans) has an important place in this world, and a purpose that may not be clear to them today.
I mean, Yankees fans must have some purpose….right?
I’m Steve Runner, a die hard Boston Red Sox Fan….reminding you, to run long and taper.
Every third Thursday of November the New Beaujolais wine is released from the region of the same name in
. This is a young wine made from the Gamay Noir
à Jus Blanc grape, best served chilled at 55°F and produced through carbonic maceration and whole berry
fermentation to present a very fresh, juicy, fresh from the vine wine. I tasted this in real time, as I recorded
this video: so you can see my first impressions of the 2011 release! Here’s a hint: it’s not too shabby! France
I love to sit back with a glass of wine and relax, but I really don’t enjoy the experience of being drunk. We’re talking about inebriation here: and it’s not something I enjoy. Today I’m talking about this love I have for the fermented grape, and the fact that getting “drunk” isn’t my favorite thing.
The 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau has been released, and today I’m going to tell you why you should try this fresh off the vine liquid Gamay grape before it experiences it’s elevage!
There’s a blog out there, written by a scared, brain-damaged little fool who calls himself a runner. After several years of searching and talking to people whom he knows, I have conclusively identified him: I know where he lives, I have his phone number, I know where he used to work and even where he works today. I have his address, his photo and have communicated on several occasions with people he knows and who he works with. This guy is a racist. The reason why I won’t say, or do anything to (or about) this sad little man is because he is “broken”, defective in a way that needs repair by way of education…and my threatening to expose his identity will not help him. Hatred is a sign of brain damage, as today I will discuss.
WARNING: this is a LOOOONG rambling diatribe: I’ve been listening to a bunch of wine seminars lately, and reading Alice Fierings book “Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally” and I’ve realized that too often wine geeks (like me) confuse style with terroir.