Or at least one musing. And I’m not sure yet how much meandering.
On many of my Wednesday Walks, but particularly on this one, I have noticed people running with dogs. Let me quickly explain that this is not the same as “running with wolves.” If it were, I would most likely remain indoors. And I am understating with “most likely.”
What I’m talking about is the regular occurrence of people – men and women; they both do it – holding a leash, running, with their dogs running alongside them. Which they are obligated to do if they don’t want to get strangled by the leash.
What appears to be happening is one of my least favorite planning strategies – “Killing two birds with one stone.” I hate killing two birds with one stone. I don’t like killing any birds at all. Though, contradictorily, when I was twelve, I did try to bring one down with an air rifle. I missed.
“Killing two birds with one stone” is a self-serving time saver, which invariably ends up killing no birds, and wasting a stone. (Note: Shameless dog owners could claim they are killing three birds with one stone, the third “bird” – providing exercise for the dog.)
Here’s the rationale behind this two (or three)-birds-with-one-stone situation:
“I want to take my dog outside, and I want to run. Hey, I know! I will go outside and run with my dog!” (“And my dog gets to run too!”)
Fine. Except, Mr. or Ms. Two (or Three)-Bird-Killer: Have you ever, as I have as you speedily traverse my path, seen the intense look in your dog’s eyes? Trust me. That canine is not happy. It’s like,
“I wanted to go outside. And now I’m running. I have no interest in running. I just wanted to go outside.”
(Adding, if it’s a particularly talkative dog:)
“Why am I running, when what I really want to do is to go inside and lie down on a rug?”
Am I projecting my own feelings here, about being forced to run when you don’t have a say in the matter? Is this merely a flashback to my Bathurst Heights Collegiate gym class days? Perhaps. But I am not imagining the sense of annoyance in those people’s pets’ eyes. Those pooches are pissed!
“We can’t just go outside for me. They have got to throw in the running.”
There is a screaming injustice here, which reminds me of the Supreme Court’s Plessis versus Ferguson decision of 1896. For obvious reasons. Plessis established the “separate but equal” principle, without ever consulting with the “separates” as to whether they would not prefer to simply be equal.
Though perhaps I am overthinking this point.
My next thought naturally turns to the – to me, inexplicable practice – of running itself.
A man goes streaking by me, taking enormous strides, at a pace that would leave thoroughbreds scratching their heads.
“I run that fast. But they’re hitting me with a stick!”
Why, I can’t help wondering, do people run?
I know why they used to run. To get away from big, scary animals that were running after them. But today, those animals are extinct. Possibly due to excessive running.
Unless you live in the wilderness, and if you exclude urban street thugs – which, in my sixty-seven years of urban living I have encountered exactly none – “running for your life” is an anachronism, now applied primarily to sitcom writing staffs whose script is in terrible shape and they have desperately little time to fix it. And that’s figurative “running for your life”, which feels the same – because in both cases you think you’re going to die – but isn’t.
So that rationalization for running is out. As is “So I can get places faster.” Modern society has provided superior alternatives in that regard.
So why then, once again, do people run?
“Because they likes to.”
Fine. It’s a free country. Anyone can virtually do anything that is not harmful to others.
“I like to eat fire. Is that a crime?”
No. It’s stupid. But it’s not a crime.
People run because they like to challenge themselves. They run to stay physically fit. Others run for the well documented “runner’s high”, triggering endorphin-induced feelings of euphoria and happiness without ingesting products that could get you arrested, or in rehab, or if you’re a celebrity, in “Celebrity Rehab.”
In the movie Chariots of Fire (1981), an Olympic long-distance runner espoused a religious reason for running: “…when I run, I feel His pleasure.” So, some people run for God. Though if it were me, I would ask God why He created those big, scary animals that required us to learn to run in the first place.
Of course, I’m just a big troublemaker.
Let’s turn things around for a second.
Why don’t I run?
Well sir, I have always harbored this theory: If you do not want to incur any sports injuries – which I do not – do not do any sports. To date, this strategy has worked like a charm. No sports, no sports injuries.
I met a guy once who had undergone four knee replacements as a result of skiing. I do not ski. And I retain my own knees. (By the way, that lunatic is still skiing.)
You know, when you think of it, runners and walkers are on the same continuum; I’m just at the really, really slow end of it, not far from, “Standing Entirely Still.”
A meaningless comparison? I don’t think so.
And neither do the poor dogs those runners are dragging along.
“I wish you owned me,” I hear them whine,
As their paws go skidding the sidewalk.