Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author Unknown
Living in Lucerne, we’ve been very hard-pressed around here, the average, town-dwelling, mediocrity-abiding citizen, to feel in any way bad about the progressing climate change: it is the middle of December but it’s been the subjective, sensory equivalent of early October or March, depending which of these months you more associate with wind-swept, rainy days hovering in the low teens [Celsius]. No need to step outside swaddled in multiple layers of top-hole nano-fleece against blazing flakes of whiteness, no fuss with dirty sludge, no seasonal sombriety, thus far none of the overwhelming unpleasantness that usually comes down like a hammer on the anvil of December. Instead mildly pleasant, wildly mild weather.
I’ve even been tempted to reconsider my hibernal road-running hiatus; after the frozen-fingered, twisted-ankle drudgery [B.A.R. aka bum-ankle-running] of 2010/2011. I’ve been telling myself that there is no sensible reason to put myself through that sort of shite discomfort again [I haven’t even mentioned my monstrous cold-air itch]. It is all fine to do battle with the elements but it’s a rather exaggerated take on our position in the order of thangs. Like a beer-drinking porn-phenom amongst elephants, hollering for a pissing contest.
When the old N!ke commercial asked “Have you ran today?” it was addressed to the exactly right person: oneself. One’s will-power, one’s desire to locomote home and out and home again, the possibility of choosing exertion over cozy comfort. What it wisely didn’t ask is if you engaged in some imaginary battle with Mama Gaia because that type of fight, apart from being illusory, would inevitably be 1st round KO. As I see it, running can never be a matter of “fighting the elements” or going up against a force majeur, laisse tomber; if anything it is a matter of willingly and savvily engaging with them. I love the wind coolly circumfluxing my face, I do like an evening downpour in july to deliver me from the day’s weighted heat and yes, I’m likewise enamored of spring’s first adrenal flush of ozone when the whole world is screaming “Let’s go again!” But to willingly expose myself to meteorological conditions that I full-well know will cause my body supreme discomfort and exaggerate the possibility of injury, as is especially the case with Prof. J. Frost, is simply not on my list of sensible running challenges. I myself, as a little sub-unit of nature, in running become my challenge and catalyst.
In this spirit I have foregone Lucerne’s streets for a while now and become an unhappy, self-condemned inmate of the treadmill, the existential emptiness of which I’ve already expounded on. I think I’ve been doing this running in place [pietinage] for three weeks now and despite my initial, unfounded hopes, the exercise has not become scintilla one easier. Meaning that the passage of time once I begin loping in place is as glacial, as tectonical as ever and I’m thinking whatever neuro-chemicals jetpower one along the temporal axis during street-runs go AWOL on the mill, dreadmill, the mills of hell.
The frumpled, malodorous octogenarian, whose knees and pelvis socket I think I can hear crepitate, covers exactly as much distance as I do, blasting my bronchi: zero, nothing, null. And this too, the vigorous shanks’ motion combined with zero spatial advancement, vehemently fucks with your ancient animal instinct of running. The memory has nothing to show for your effort: no freshly imagined, convoluted loop through Luzern/Kuala Lumpur/Enfield/Gotham/et cetera nor any particular view that sparked a serendipitous emotion or thought, just the static CCTV tape of the mill’s shutter-framed dashboard [Quick Start / Cool Down / STOP / etc.] and the low-hanging flat-screen with pasty guys from the rainy UK getting their snooker-behinds royally whooped by a Chinese guy with a flamboyant hair-do and a death-ray glare in case somebody commits the unforgivable mistake of looking at him.
Be that as it may, the spring-like weather has tempted me to reconsider switching the artificial, Sisyphean, circulating black-top for the real deal but it is just not quite there yet, temperature-wise. Indeed, today courtesy of the visit of Arthur [or whatever the front’s moniker is] the air-masses got up to such violent business that the wind-burned weather-guy told Swiss folks to abstain from forest flaneuring and all other activities which unduly expose one to the possibility of being injured/ killed/startled-shitless by a gravitationally accelerated piece of bio-matter or other thingies of cranium-shattering capacity. Which nobody has to tell me once, let alone twice. Meanwhile, N!ke has assumed a decidedly different stance in regards to physical exercise and the seasons: Winter is now understood to be a co-competitor or rival, as expressed thusly: “Winter is very angry”. What will the N!ke sloganeers have to say about Spring? And Summer? Just now that I was starting to faire bon ménage with brother Jacques Hiver. Anyway, this tag-line or whatever marketeers might call it, makes me think that the clever Slogan-Meisters of yore [“You are it”] must have jumped the Oregonian ship. Ok, point taken, not a topic for this post.
I wonder if it will ever be possible for me to write what I set out originally to write. And what an absolutely splendid day that will be, to be toasted with the most exquisite bottle of bubbly [say five to ten bucks more than a freixenet]. BRIEF INTERLUDE: in the star-star-star-star-star-hotel across the road, two male southern Indian teens in shorts appear to be alternately competition-posing in front of a mirror and freestyle leaping onto their master-sized-bed. And just now, after five minutes of gratis ridiculousness for yours-truly, they finally closed their curtain; bravo! So what is priceless? The random, entertaining shit live throws at one, you, me.
New subject. I’m a serious esteemer of books, of the written fictional [at times even non-fictional] word, be it printed or eInked. To call myself a Bibliomaniac would be hyperbole on a number of counts: I rarely purchase books on impulse, I don’t have the gwap to make frequent enough acquisitions, my reading back-log does not exceed [to my conscious knowledge] the environs of one hecto-book [or is it hecto-books?], I have hardly ever experienced the urge to steal a book [maybe once or twice, at a late hour, in a funereal corner of some minus three stacks], books do not occupy a majority material volume of our apartment, conventional furniture does, I scarcely own any hard copies [which I find cumbersome], I give a rodent’s gluteus about books that are “valuable” but which content-wise I would not care to read and, to end, books do not occupy a majority mental volume of my mind space. Though, apart from socks, they are my main material pleasure in life and I dutifully [even if guiltily] update my Amazon WishList to make sure I always have a quantum-plasma panorama of the volumes [paper-based and virtual] I most urgently need to add to my neo-natal library. The books that will begin to fill or explore or make forgotten the unknowable voids in my spirit, intellect and imagination. So a label I wouldn’t mind sticking to my forehead would read “bibliophile”: I love good books as best and inadequately as a human being may love an inanimate object without suffering from paraphilia. The furthest I’ve taken this liking, apart from the idea of perhaps typing up an inventory [which clearly will never come to pass], is to imagine that I will take a digital picture of the cover of each book and then perhaps fritter a few hours away with those on Inkscape. Though as a thought-experiment it has considerably more appeal than imagining actually, physically going through with it. The other illusive brainchild is that of putting together my favorite books [Wallace et al.] and then, one by one taking them to the library and scanning all the pages where I underlined passages. Time-wise it wouldn’t be such a big deal: A) I could take my time B) the scanner is staggeringly fast. However, in this case too, just toying around with the idea is quite enough and now, additionally, having gone to the incredible length of writing it down is likely about as gaudy as I might expect it to get.
P.S.: It has now officially begun to snow. I don’t know how to say this, December, but I never thought of it as anything more than a fling.
• • •