Connecting with the Joy of Living

April 28, 2017



Some of us are able to muse our way to meaning. Others of us think the Struggle With Meaning is hokey and we should just suck it up, roll up our sleeves, and get back to work (whatever that work should be), preferring Bob Newhart's approach in this skit about the two-word psychology solution.



A recent article in natural geographic talks about the importance of getting outside and connecting with nature to improve our emotional and spiritual well-being. It seems simple and straightforward—too obvious to be worth the two books and a curriculum the interview subject has produced. And yet, it’s so hard to get around to doing.


That’s a large part of the joy of trail running. At least half of what makes trail running so meaningful is the environment in which it takes place, and why it’s such a key part of my search for hope and meaning after cancer.


Clearly, you don’t have to buy sweat-wicking shirts or set out at an 8- or 9-minute mile pace to achieve that connection. Bird watchers, photographers and bow hunters prove you can sit perfectly still and soak up nature. We’re all in this together.


If you’re not a runner I know reading articles or watching videos about it can be alienating. That’s how I sometimes feel when I watch rock climbing or extreme skiing films: like the people on the screen are part of a club you’re not a part of and you don’t really want to join (even though it looks pretty cool), and that they think (know?) they’re pretty special even though they act so very humble.


That said, you can scroll down this page to view a four-minute video link that illustrates powerfully how trail running can provide a profound point of connection with nature, community, purpose and meaning.


The Canyon de Chelly Ultramarathon in Northern Arizona goes through an incredible landscape of red rock canyon. It’s on Navajo land and raises funds for the local high school running team. It's on my must-run list.



In the film, race director Shaun Martin talks about the power of running to shape the lives of Native American teens.


He shares about how running is part of the fabric of his life. He doesn’t use the phrase spiritual discipline, but it’s clear that’s the role it plays for him.


The short four-minute film is a powerful lesson on connecting our physical and spiritual beings with the life force that surrounds us. It's worth the watch.


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