Hymn of human endeavour

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Sep 2018 09:19:40



By Vijay Phanshikar,

Runs end. Running doesn’t!





ULTRA-MARATHONER Dean Karnazes quotes an unknown runner at the start of a chapter of his book ‘Ultra-Marathon Man - Confessions Of An All-night Runner’ (Allen&Unwin, 2017, Paperback), as saying Runs end. Running doesn’t! The small but meaningful quotation speaks of a philosophy of life. Yes, for those who seek and get fulfillment of their passion in running, runs do end, but their quest -- running -- continues. Runs are episodes of a bigger story -- of life, its quest.

As he quotes some unknown runner, Dean Karnazes talks of his eternal quest. At the end of that chapter, he says, “I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trail, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go.”

And at the end of the previous chapter, Dean Karnazes says, “Happiness, though, cannot be measured in monetary terms. My job paid the bills; my running satisfied a deeper passion. Limping into the weekly meeting, dehydrated, stiff, and on the verge of collapse, my heart was fulfilled. I couldn’t ask for anything more”.

Thus, Dean Karnazes, Karno to co-runners, runs not away from anything or towards something, but to fulfill a deeper passion that defines his life’s purpose. He runs ten marathons without rest. He runs a marathon at the South Pole. He undertakes endurance runs and helps charitable causes. But run he must. For Karno, running is life, the big story that goes on even after specific runs are over.

The book may appear to be an autobiographical expression, as a category. But it highlights why Karno, or many others, run, or do crazy things to fulfill their deeper passions, their quest to do things others would not even think about.
But people keep asking him -- and anybody else who does crazy things -- Why does he run?

Yes, in the book, Karnazes has tried to answer the question. And in that effort, early on, he shares a small anecdote about mountaineer George Mallory who tried to scale Mount Everest. Why was he doing all that? -- people asked him. To such questioners, Mallory responded laconically, “Because it is there”. Yes, he wanted to scale Mount Everest because it was there, challenging, daring ...!

Human history is full of all such anecdotes, all such crazy efforts, of all such people who leave behind their cozy lives, who shun their comfort zones, and take a leap of near-blind faith into the unknown. If these crazy people were not there, human history would be bound between 10 am-to-5 pm time-frames and four secure walls of home.

But in that case, Qutab Minar would never have been built, or Burz Khalifa would never have come up, or Neil Armstrong would never have stepped onto the Moon, or Jules Verne would never have created a dream of a
nuclear-powered submarine Nautilus that eventually stepped out from the confines of a book and came into reality as the first N-powered underwater boat of the US Navy.

And each time such an episode takes place, Man does not think of ending his quest. Much to the contrary, he starts running again -- Runs end. Running doesn’t!
Words are simple, but they conceal in their outer shell something very deep in purport and import. They indicate, to say the least, the purpose of human existence, the
destination of the larger human story, the source material out of which human history gets written later on.
Runs end. Running doesn’t, thus, is the refrain of the ongoing hymn of human endeavour