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The Prophet

The Poetry Of Running and Racing, Living and Dying

Published July 28, 1997, in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Then Myrnie said, speak to us of running, Master.

And he answered:

You were born to run, and through running you glorify your Maker, by keeping pace with the soul of the earth, and keeping peace with the soul within you.

For to remain idle is to become a stranger unto the world, and to sin against your body that was created for motion.

When you run, your heart sings the freedom that surrounds you, and rejoices in the changing seasons of your fleeing life.

Just as you were destined to eat from the sweat of your forehead, so will you rejoice in the sweat of your running, the sweat that redeems you from the chains of idleness and the slavery of indulgence.

And in running, you become the master of your body, which you mold into a fleeting shadow in the setting of the day.

When you run, you experience the pain of labor, for it is through pain that you find love, the love of running and the love of living.

And you commune with nature in a perfect harmony, in the fullness of life and the strength of the body. For isn't pain a part of love, and isn't love an instrument of peace?

When you run in loneliness, the quiet around you penetrates to your depth and brings out your innermost feelings. Your soul transcends your body and transforms it into a powerful state of being.

The air that you breathe fills your lungs and blood, and you experience a euphoria that inebriates you and captures you into its power. With every rising sun and the birth of a new day, you seek the runner's high like a child seeks a mother's breast.

For running is life, and life is running. The two become one and cannot be separated. For running gives you health, and isn't health the secret to life?

Then Myrnie asked, what of racing, Master?

And he replied:

Just as running is life for the runner, then racing is death for the racer. It is the death that you fear, that you live in racing. A race takes you through the stages of life, and doesn't every race end at the finish just as every life ends in death?

When you race, you live your life to the fullest, and bring death to your inhibitions and fears. It is in racing that you witness the rebirth of your spirit and soul.

When you race, you liberate your soul from the limits of your body. You push your body beyond its limit. In every race, you relive the innocence of childhood and the hope of youth, only to see them dashed in the pain of adulthood and the weakness of old age.

When you start a race, you run with the innocence and joy of a child. The finish is never on your mind.

As your race progresses, the innocence of childhood gives way to the hope of youth. Your early pace deceives you into happy dreams. You glide over the earth, barely touching your feet, and you imagine yourself running forever. You defy gravity, for she will not tame the youthful spirit.

It won't be long till the reality of your body confronts you like a weight in your legs. Age slows you down, and you take in more of life, for the finish of the race and the death of your dream embrace you.

The end of the race brings you the wisdom and the weakness of old age. Death awaits you at the finish, and you cannot escape your destiny. You started the race so that you may finish it. In death you achieve your victory. For all who race must finish, and all who live must die...

Then he ran away into the wilderness, for even the Master needs to commune with nature through running.

Kamal Jabbour borrowed the writing style of Kahlil Gibran in celebration of their common heritage. In "The Prophet," Gibran wrote about many of life's joys and pains, but missed running. Jabbour writes on running in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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