I've been thinking........(insert witty retort here)......about butterflies and snail darters. That is a good sign, really--it is. It happens while running. When I started running (the most recent start) the chore seemed almost impossible. I had to focus on footfall, breathing, "is that thunder or my heart pounding", and countless fundamental elements required keep my hulking self in motion. After pushing myself to do that for many, many miles now, it was somewhat discouraging when I could not see improvement in speed nor strength. As I ran today and my mind wandered the thought finally occurred what was happening. My mind was wandering. This is one of the two great benefits of running in my opinion.
The first (and for many folks, the only) reason is physical improvement. I will save the "Run Long, Live Long" lecture but will mention the thought presented by Dr. George Sheehan (runner, M.D., philosopher, author). He said in one of his books the reason he runs is to "become the animal he was meant to be".
The less obvious reason for running is understood only by those who cross a certain threshold which brings a clarity of thought not easily achieved in our loud, hectic world. The solitude of distance running combined with the mindless physical exertion free the mind to explore thoughts at a depth we usually don't allow time for. That is why I was elated to realize I had drifted into this state and was no longer having to focus on the process of running. Then the butterfly analogy inched into my mind. Before a butterfly is a butterfly he/she is a caterpillar that must work diligently to climb to a safe place and spin a cacoon before the amazing transformation occurs. All that work is done as a caterpillar. I wonder if he knows what is coming. I doubt it. Probably, he is just doing what he feels he should do. Then one day he wakes up with beautiful wings. That helps me inch along day after day, doing what seems the right thing to do. Unlike the caterpillar, I have some idea of what is coming.
Also as I plodded along today, I saw another deer. I see them often on my remote runs down Ft. Toulouse Road. Several have run across right in front of me like that goofy commercial. But today a doe was Walmart-walking across the road. You know, nonchalantly strolling with no destination in mind and no timetable and no awareness of anybody else needing to pass. When I first saw her, I was about 60 yards away. She didn't seem to notice me for a long time as I came closer and closer. When I was about 25 yards away and she was nearly off the other side of the pavement she spotted me and stood motionless (like the deer in the headlights-without headlights). Then she looked behind her into the woods where she had emerged. That is when I knew there was another deer behind her. As I came within 20 yards she bounded into the woods. I slowed (if you can believe that is possible) to look and eventually saw the light-colored hair of two front legs then was able to see the second deer about 15 yards in the woods waiting to see what I would do. It is pretty neat to be able to pass between the two of them and they didn't seem to mind too much--almost like they were expecting me.
That started the meandering chain of thoughts that encompassed snail darters, spotted owls, and all the other "endangered species" that have halted commerce of various types. I am a hunter because that endeaver allows me to observe and study various wildlife in their habitat. I love watching deer the way I did today and do not see a "target" when seeing them in the wild. At the same time, I believe God has communicated with us that animals were put here for man, not the other way around. Don't get me wrong, I strongly resist the guys who wear their camo year-round to social gatherings and want to "bag" as many of all game animals as possible in a competitive, score-keeping manner. And I think we can worship profit so much that we heartlessly harm the environment when it is not necessary. But I would say our society has gone too far the other direction when we pay murderous muslems $75 a barrel for oil to avoid forcing a caribou to have to look at a pipeline running across a frozen tundra. It reminds me of Ted Nugent's interview with a British (liberal)journalist. When asked if he thought a deer's last thought before being shot was "Can I trust you" or "Did you kill my brother?", Ted responded "deer are animals--they don't think like that. All they think about is 'where can I next eat?' or "where can I next have sex?' or 'can I run fast enough to get away?' They are much like the French."
I had a good run today.