This photo is of a jar of pins I keep in my silverware drawer--race pins, to be specific. Everytime you run a race there is a box of small safety pins on the table where you pick up your bib, and every time I take four pins. I pin my bib on, run my race, and throw the pins in the jar when I get home. I'm not sure why I always take the pins, but I like the ritual. And I love seeing the jar everytime I need a fork or a spoon. I don't think I even consciously register that those are the pins from all of the races I've run, but somewhere in me it registers that I am engaged in something that matters, something with a profound impact, something that has changed my life.
I think my favorite thing about running is the constant progression. It's not linear progression, it's like Spirograph. Spirograph is an art toy and was big when I was growing up (in fact it won Toy of the Year in 1967, the year I was born!). I don't know how to explain Spirograph, exactly, except to say that you get an unexpected design from a fairly rigid structure. And you don't have to be good at art to get a beautiful design. The lines you make never seem to follow any particular pattern, they move up and down and backwards and forwards, but there is a beautiful picture when you finish. And that is the story of my running life.
Just like the spirograph, running is so simple in execution: you put your running shoes on and run, just like you put the pencil in the spirograph wheel and move it around the circle. I'm always surprised by how running, season after season, creates new results, just like I was always surprised by how putting the pencil in the different spirographs could make such different designs with the same, methodical motion.
I feel a shift as of late in relationship to running, a kind of surrender. I'm putting my shoes on and letting running make the design. It's always worked like that anyway--I've just been late to accept that beyond choosing my shoes and my attitude, lots of it is out of my control. But how I respond to running is in my control, and surrending--or not--to this mysterious desire to go deep into running is also up to me.
We are half way through the year and I have only added eight pins to my jar, well below my usual average. Still, it's been a banner year for running, and it's not over yet. Running has taken me in very different directions so far this year and continues to change my life in surprising ways, and I can't wait to lift the pencil and see the new design it has made on my life.