Running with Rumi – Maggie Scruggs
Some people run to get a natural high. Some run to avoid studying for Microeconomics. Some run to experience the small mindless nothingness that accompanies rhythmic strides. My reason for running is a combination of these things, but mostly the last one.
What do you do when you can’t seem to access the mindlessness, and are easily disturbed by the noise and aggressive wafts of exhaust streaming from the trucks that pass by? I find very few things more frustrating than needing an escape and being denied immediate access to it.
Last week I found myself struggling to find the instant calm that is inherently associated with running in conditions of near silence, like can be found in trail running. However, I didn’t have time to make it all the way to the trails on my run, so pavement and noise it was.
At the intersection of Broad Street and Milledge Avenue, the one where you feel like everyone and their brother is watching you jog across, and that’s approximately 0.2 miles from where I live, I almost turned around for fear of being overwhelmed with sound and distraction. Then, remembering something my yoga teacher said once quoting Rumi, I chilled out a few degrees. This poem by Rumi is called “The Guest House.”
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
This is an effective and quick reminder to retreat to when faced with stupid distractions like an East-West bus blowing exhaust in your face when you’re just trying to go on a morning trot. Say, “What’s up?” to that resentment you feel when someone nearly runs you over in a crosswalk, or “Hello” to that gratefulness you feel when someone asks you how your day is going.