Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beauty on Runs

Picture from here
Do we really see the beauty around us as we run? The clouds that look like God painted them in the sky, the herons (my friend Madelyn always points them out), the mountain lakes, the deserts?  I would like to argue that sometimes we are more caught up with ourselves.  Either how far or how fast I am running is usually something that is constantly on my mind as I run.  But there are moments, like one today, I put all of that aside for a moment and just take in the beauty of my world. 

Today during my long run, I was privileged to see a gorgeous sunrise--the kind where the clouds look all pink and choppy and fluffy all across the sky as the sun moves through them.  I was reminded about a scene from Forrest Gump (and later about the most beautiful place I've ever seen--Kaui in 2009--see below). 

Forrest Gump ran all through the movie--as a child to outrun the mean kids ("Run, Forrest, run!), in college as a football quarterback, and then as an adult when he ran across the continent since he "just felt like running."  His efforts on the coast-to-coast runs were admired.  Others sought him for advice.  They ran behind him, hoping for some wonderful message.  A way to run as far as he did.  Yet I think his message is simply this:  Enjoy what you are doing as long as you can by taking in the beauty around you.

When Jenny asks him about his life experiences he says:
Sometimes it would stop raining long enough for the stars to come out... and then it was nice. It was like just before the sun goes to bed down on the bayou. There was always a million sparkles on the water... like that mountain lake. It was so clear, Jenny, it looked like there were two skies one on top of the other. And then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn't tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It's so beautiful.

I think some runners are good at describing their mileage, their training, their food intake, and each little thing they do that makes them a better runner.  I'm not too good at that, I'm afraid, though I will continue to try.  But I do like finding the beauty and the opportunity in each run that I take...and more and more so the older I get.  I want to be the kind of runner who feels moved by experiences I have while running, moved by the beauty of God's creation.  It is all around us, yet we never take the time to see it.  Forrest's message is a simple message delivered by a simple person, yet it rings so true to me. 

I am reminded of Wilson Bentley, who lived from 1865 to 1931.  I learned about him through reading the children's book Snowflake Bentley.  Really, Katie?  A children's book?  Sorry, people, I work with what I have!  Anyway, he lived on a farm in Vermont and took pictures of snowflakes and other objects in nature.  People said that snow in Vermont was as common as dirt and not worth is taking the time to study it, take pictures of it, or preserve it. 

Yet he said, "The average dairy farmer gets up at dawn because he has to go to work in the cow yard.  I get up at dawn too.  But it is because I want to find some leaf, hung with dew; or a spider web which the dew has made into the most delicate rope of pearls...I take my camera with me, get down on my knees in the wet grass, and photograph these exquisite bits of nature.  Because I do this I can show these lovely things to people who never would have seen the without my help.  They will get their daily quart of milk, all right.  Other farmers will attend to that.  But I think I am giving them something which is just as important." 

If you are still reading this, I think Forrest's message, Wilson's message, and mine are one in the same.  Instead of rushing past everything (whether on your run or elsewhere), take the time to see the beauty that is all around you. 

I plan to see the beauty in my world today.


  1. I think so many times it's easy to get caught up in numbers and facts when we run. I do it myself - how fast I'm going (or slow, haha), etc. But to run and take nature all in - it's such a privilege. Unfortunately, it's too hot for me to run outside right now (live in TX) but in the winter time, every time I would run, I would just look all around me. So much to see, so much to be thankful for. Beauty is around us - we just have to open our eyes and look!

  2. great my Long Course Tri Camp this past weekend there was a guy I wrote about (Being a Doug) who had a knack for pointing out the beauty right in the middle of my thoughts on how hard things were at that moment in time. He has had a profound impact on me. Several times since then when I've had a negative thought on a run/ride/swim...I think of his words "WOW, just look how beautiful this place is!"...and I thank God for allowing me the opportunity He has to be doing what I'm doing!! :D

  3. The Cooking Life, You are my first official out-of-state commenter! I am glad you found my blog and agreed with the sentiment in this entry. I would like to see your landscapes in TX someday, and I think you would love our mountains here. I run trails up there a lot. You can get lost in the beauty there!