Saturday, December 11, 2010
Pathos of Superficiality
Essentially we are constantly and perpetually embarked on quest of self discovery. This personal Odyssey takes us from our everyday happenings to a strange new land where we find ourselves alone without personas and confront our temptations in the solitude of the dessert. To get to our destination we need to travel by our own power.
Repetitive physical motion is hypnotic, to borrow a secular term and is stillness-creating. This process is one which frames a spiritual place of receptivity; where we can empty the mind from its congestion and traffic; and enter into (or at least approach) a state of hesychiasm. There is a quieting which allows the mind traffic to recede and prayer to come to the forefront. Essentially it is the wide expanse of the private closet to our hearts in which we cultivate our personal relationship with God. It is the place where social status, education, pay grades and bills recede into nothingness.
During stillness-creating labor (for me running) individuals who are engaged in physical activity of a moderate intensity, for a prolonged time (in excess of an hour), experience an intense psychological response. Intense feelings of tranquility and universal insight are commonly noted. This profound sense of harmony, emotional tranquility and insight are not exaggerated responses to physical exertion. They seem to be indicative of the satisfaction which stems from being self-motivated and demonstrate a shift in self-identity from the ties and trappings of the world. It is the time where we unplug from the matrix of lies and false assertions about our role and value. It is one way we refrain from being complicit in the charade and break free, if only for a while, to return cleansed and truer somehow. It is the repeated affirmation that we subscribe to an alternate perspective.
As Orthodox Christians our lives are spent distinguishing our personal value from the pathos imposed by society. The Church assists us with establishing beneficial parameters and all Rites of Passage begin with a service and prayer. Running in many ways takes us to the dessert which provides the workplace to sort through the pathos of superficiality like the economic ranking of self-worth and the preoccupation with youthful beauty. Long distance running and other prolonged activities appeal to the pioneer in all of us. It is the path of discovery of what lays inside of us. It enables the participant to rebuke mediocrity and strive for the gold standard. It is was we learn about ourselves during these hours remain with us to offer a counterweight to the weight of the world.