April 20, 2014

Free State

Volunteered at a trail race today. 

Pointed one way. Half.

Pointed the other way. Full.

Picked up the flags after. Ran the loop a couple times, to see it, and because I have to do these things. Seeing people run is like watching people eat - hard to do without craving some yourself. 

Regretted, while moving, that I wasn't racing. This is also typical. Not that volunteering isn't rewarding - it is. But racing is the best thing I know, when it goes well; and I'm perpetually foolish enough to assume it will. 

I thought then that that was selfish. Then, back to my multiple ethics classes (phil minor, to go with my english major, because I hate money), during which it was suggested that perhaps altruism is itself selfish, or rather, a guise for selfishness. Altruism, perhaps, does not exist. To volunteer, or more broadly, "do good", brings forth in us a good feeling. Often, we are rewarded with recognition and praise. Maybe that's all we want anyway, when doing something apparently nice. 

In this case, one volunteers at races to hear "thanks", to earn credit within the community, and to feel as if they've done something.

Maybe. I don't know. And I don't know, even if that were all somewhat true, that anything would really be ruined by it. Can't say.

All I can say is that I volunteered today, that my nose is red and my legs itch, but that I feel good about having done it. That part, however, coexists with another, that thinks only that I should've run the marathon, that I'm recovered, and that I'd have won it too, dammit. (Wrong, and probably wrong.)

But people are messy that way.

I do know that there has been a lot of talk, pre-Boston, about the broader running community. And I get that. I do feel like a "runner", and that I share this one meaningful thing, if nothing else, with millions of others. That matters.

But a tapestry that large doesn't hold together without fine stitching - in this case, local dirt shared by mostly local folks. 

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