Saturday, May 12, 2007

Loneliness of a long distance runner

There is this sudden emptiness surrounding me. I can’t express it in words. Then again, one word is sufficient to explain it – nostalgia.

The school has been my home for six years. In those six years I have cried, laughed, made friends, and made a few enemies. Had moments that I never wanted to end, had those I wish never happened. I won, I lost. I discovered, and I learnt. Life can never be the same again.

How short it is! I realized that when I crossed the finish line of the 68th inter-house cross-country competition. With that I crossed the finish line of my school life. No longer will I be part of the school. No longer will I be responsible to the HM or the HSM. I’m a nobody to them – a person who just eats, and sleeps there. And occasionally writes a paper or to which is mandatory. A luggage.

How relevant it is to have this ‘crossie comp’ right at the end of the year. For me it was doubly significant. It not only marked the end of the race and the year, but my tenure. And now that I look back and reflect on the last six years, and the competition, I can’t help but find the similarities between the two.

When you start the run, you jump into the battlefield with the typical ‘josh’ and enthusiasm of someone starting on a new adventure. Doon was an adventure. But soon the josh wanes, and in its place comes pain, agony, breathlessness – temptation to give up. Many do. Many fight pain with pain. Their will is strong.

And soon the pain is forgotten. Your limbs take you forward effortlessly. You start enjoying the run. You take notice of your surroundings – the trees, the road, the bikes whizzing past and the lazy cyclist, the people running behind you and those in the front. Though we started together, half way through we are on our own. No two persons have the same will power, speed or stamina. So we run alone, towards the common end. Most have only one aim – to beat the person ahead of him. That is a strong motivation, but not good enough, because then you’re running someone else’s race. I run for the sake of running. I enjoy it. My aim is to beat myself. To conquer my mind and body with my will.

Running alone has an advantage. It gives you time for some introspection. I have always been a loner. I am happy to be one. It is a choice that I have made.

However, you can’t run the entire race alone. A few catch up with you, while you do the same with others. You run with them for sometime, then either you leave them or are left behind. There are those who help others on the way to the finish line. A few words of encouragement, a gentle pat on the back. Life isn’t about winning only. It’s about sharing. It’s about human bonding.

You approach the finish line. You remember the pain and agony you endured throughout the race. Once you cross that line, it’ll be an end to all. This anticipation sends a sudden rush of adrenalin through your blood. You act as if in a frenzy. You increase your pace. You fly in the air. You feel light, almost weightless. And it’s all over. The race is over. So is the most memorable phase of your life, yet. Now what?

Now what? This is the question that bothers me. Chase other dreams, achieve different goals? Your entire life is ahead of you, beckoning you. But what do you do after you have fulfilled those fleeting dreams as well?

Puneet Verma
Ex 400-OA

1 comment:

Ruchira Sen said...

You keep running