Man vs. Himself: Good Books & Enlightenment

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.” — JESSE OWENS

 

I really enjoy quotes from runners because they always seem to be like the jester in a Shakespeare play: The truths they’re talking about have so many levels and layers of meaning. Running is such an accurate metaphor for the journey of life. I know I have learned much from running – just in the course of 2 years – that I don’t think I could have learned any other way and have it so deeply written on my heart. Patience. Trial. Perseverence. Gratitude. The depths and different applications of those emotions are astounding.

The best movies and books, in my opinion, come from the stories of man vs. himself. I know many teenagers enjoy man vs. man (or alien vs. alien) and things along those lines but for me the best stories include subtle action within the heart and mind. There is another literary category of man vs. nature — and this, too, is valid, enlightening and entertaining — but I truly believe that even with man vs. man or man vs. nature, the true enlightenment comes from within those experiences. Those situations all eventually point back to, and reflect, the struggle within yourself. It may begin as a struggle with another person, situation, or nature but it comes back to what is within you. I think those situations help shape who we are mentally and spiritually but I don’t think you can truly discover who you are if you forget the physical element. All of them work together to create who we are.

Some philosophers believe that the body is to be cast off to achieve enlightenment. Don’t tell that to a runner. Runners KNOW that BODY + SPIRIT = SOUL. I’m convinced that the greatest wars are waged within a single human being and it is reflected in the world around us. It’s not a control issue – it’s more of a self-control issue. Balance is the key – nurture, demand, selfless, selfish, experience, knowledge, truth, joy, humor – there is so much to experience. I think that there’s no adventure so profound as the one wherever you are sitting right now.

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