Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Looking For Signs of Providence

"Providence has nothing good or high in store for one who does not resolutely aim at something high or good. A purpose is the eternal condition of success" - Thornton Wilder

Runners can sometimes get caught up in the numbers of things: miles per week, miles per year, pace per mile...miles to go. And on and on...

Runners can also get caught up with concerns about luck, good and bad. I wrote about this in past posts (What's Luck Got To Do With It? ), and signs of good or bad luck.

This year marks 40 years of running for me and I begin my celebration of that anniversary next Monday, April 16th, 2012, in Boston - and that seems fitting.

Now I say that I've been a runner for 40 years, and I have seen myself as a runner for 40 years, but in all honesty, consistency and chronic obsession didn't really kick in until I was about 23. That was the year I ran my first "road race". It was a the "Skunk Cabbage Classic" in Ithaca, New York - Today it's a half marathon - but back then it was either a 5 miler or a 10k. How sad...I can't remember, and many many years ago my award - a wooden plaque with a medallion of a skunk cabbage stamped into it - was hastily thrown in the trash. There went that little bit of history. But I do remember that I ran it in April 1987 - 25 years ago. That race got me hooked on road racing... for a while. 

So there are all these numbers floating around in my head, and I wonder if in those numbers some sign of Providence might be gleaned. Generally I'm not a numbers person, but something seems to be coming together here.

Okay, so here are the numbers: 40 years of running, 25 years since I ran my first road race at the age of 23 - and here's the clincher: my bib# for Boston is 19661, which adds up to 23, the age at which this whole thing really got rolling.

Coincidence??? I don't think so!

And then, as I am typing this, literally as I am thinking these thoughts, several very important people in my life made contact with me - email, messages, etc...all at the same time! All at the very moment I was thinking these things! And so I think to myself - YES, this IS a sign.

Jean-Paul Sartre argued that we look for signs to answer our questions, to calm our insecurities, and we see the signs we want to see, and look for the signs that support what we feel in our hearts but are unwilling to acknowledge. But how we decipher the signs is entirely our responsibility - our creation. If I am looking for signs of good luck, of providence, I will give meaning and draw the conclusions I already believe in.   

Sartre thinks this is a bad thing, a way we avoid taking responsibility for our feeling and choices. I say 'Piffle". William James argued that we create truth by believing something and thus acting on that belief, hence, creating the truth of that belief through those very actions.

So I'm gonna keep looking for those good signs, and I will choose to ignore the others, all the while aiming to keep my sights high and good and purposeful.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on "Piffle" to JPS. Keep your eyes on YOUR prize. You have a lot of people who'll be thinking of you next Monday!


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