I asked for and received a permit to run from the sun, my supervisor. After a week, I was happy to see the roadways and sidewalk and shoulders and ditches again emerge from underneath the thick, slippery translucent coating of sleet ice which had fallen and froze fast on Monday the twelfth. I’d stumbled a few times that evening on it at work, slightly re-injured my hip/groin again. My son, on his walk back up the hill from the bus stop after school, had reached a slick patch, stumbled, fell, stood up again, and slid backwards down the hill and fell again, legs useless, arms akimbo. I took to the indoors and tried to come up with a plan. I had a job interview that day, a dreadful occasion if just for the pleasant way the occasion revealed to me the horrible pay and conditions which would await.

I originally went to college to study drafting and architecture. However, my folks didn’t have any money, so I was stuck going to a local state college, having turned down a full ride scholarship at a colleg/horse farm to study international business and the care of horses. Seemed weird. I never planned to become a writer. My battle with substance abuse was a front for the battle with mental illness which no one wanted to acknowledge. It was easier for me to hide within a boozy socius and share the bottle’s misery with other people who have since, unsurprisingly, drifted away, like some troublesome memories that attend their untimely absences. Arrests, murders, deaths, reclusions, disappearances  and transformations took their toll upon the illusions I’d crafted. When I was small my teachers found me peculiar, a dreamer, distracted and bookish. When I became older, after my brother’s diagnosis, my family knew, but never talked about my ADHD.

I lived in ruins. I always had a dozen projects underway, each a heartbreak away from implausible completion. I began to fear completing anything, my betraying mind sure to thwart and squash my desires in its constant production of yet more desires. I pursued writing because my perspective, peculiar and charming, gave people something fresh. I never felt I was great at it. I had support from professors to pursue masters and doctorates. I was a “strong writer”.

I spent two years trying to inflect all of my stories with the concepts of Taoism. I tried to model them upon the slipshod wavicle models of quantum particle physics, using dramatic effects to characterize people’s conflicting pursuits of certainty and indeterminate desires. There wasn’t a story or poem that didn’t have a nuanced reference to neutrinos.

When I studied Native American religions, I focused upon the spiritual aspect of sports and games, as our culture seemingly lacks that dimension. We have the worship of physical excellence, icon worship. Professional sports was a monetization of the delivery of this basic transaction, a spectacle for merch, champions and their endless triumphs slated for scheduled amortization, planned branding arcs and obsolescence. A desiring machine. I wrote into my studies the way in which the spirit travels silently, ghosting through this field of play like a lost child, perhaps in a bleachers, or on a couch, around the water cooler on a Friday mouthing the territorial jingoisms with lips as facile as the hand is deft at handing over money for the jersey on the backs. We dress as our local team. We experience vicarious thrills when they win, we share the burden and hopes through their defeat. We are driven to experience this on larger screens, with more intoxicants, with more merch. We play simulations of these events on popular game consoles. Flashbulbs, contracts, escape from the numbers into unrecorded territory, not bound by limits, ascendant, passing through solid walls as if the world were an illusion, an obstacle. Like a neutrino.

So, I started running to quit something else. I kept running because I felt I’d found the power switch for my internal desiring machine. I could run my desires to ground. My addictions, I could exhaust myself to the point that they had no hold upon me I ran for a team, then another. I ran for greater distances. The ultimate goal became an existential pursuit of a becoming-event, an event not within itself, but something inexoriably linked to the chance to go further, go harder. Each goal became a stepping stone. This was an endless regression, a sort of holographic projection model that I could easily apply to transform obstacles in my life. Fall down six to get up seven. We all fall, but some get up. Every obstacle is an opportunity. There are many mantras. This is what I came for. Pain is fear. You can do more than you think you can.

You can get fired for not knowing how to do things you weren’t trained to do. You can injure yourself over-training. After a while you forget how to turn off the desiring machine. You have to sit down and clear your mind, but you can’t because you run to clear your mind. You are “Die Interimsliebenden”, a lover of an intrusive time, a dialation of the becoming event, entangled in something that maybe is a simulation of something that doesn’t even exist. I am a runner.

You obey the injury, you check your innate desires and re-position yourself to launch at a new target, at your bliss, your journey upon no path, for discovery is not a path, it is a gross host of countless failures transformed into solid footing. Trial and error. Testing. The world is a test. The lesson is life. That kind of carbuncle growing on every foot and meter of every beautifully wrought line of the story of your life, a sort of inspiration sickness, unquiet and insistent. Like ADHD.

So, by happenstance I became a writer obsessed with neutrinos, a runner obsessed with “deep flow” and theta wave production in endurance sports. But I also painted. And I couldn’t do that anymore. And I was writing a book, but I couldn’t do that anymore because something new and unstable and mysterious was enveloping me. I threw myself into a new career and abandoned everything. I had injured myself over-training, so it was easy to shove everything aside and begin anew. It’s like I was damaging myself so I could trigger a new transformation, to offer the blank wall my most universal acceptance, to not be afraid of what emerged from the infinite connections seemingly opened like a smile upon a face, the unfurled banner of the flower’s petals, a flag for earth’s nameless deep spirit, the Gia of a trillion blossoming minds.

I felt deeply committed to the death of my desire and the ego it destroyed Buncha hullabaloo.

I decided on Wednesday to go into studies to pursue a career in metamaterial nanofabrication, a science, instead of an art. I’m going to get back on my medication, to use the arts I’d developed to convey cool concepts of the physical plane, to use my body to attenuate myself to my pursuits with great strength and healthy fervor, to find a story, to find a distant goal to reach.

We are the sun which burns We are its fire, lucky to observe and reflect its energy. We spin and dance in its power. So, medication because super crazy thoughts at all times. I just hate that shit. I’m like most crazy people. I like my crazy Icarus thrills. I sow my dragon’s teeth with Cadmus at my neck, I take from Ahab the harpoon, the quill, I carry the burden of the void, the emptiness between us, nesting in blank pages, smoldering in a pair of sneakers, just like you, with your stories. Just like you, with your burning passions and whatnots and wherefors.

So, I ran nine miles and a patch yesterday. Felt good. The sun was out. I ran to the next town and did the cross country course at its college rec center, then ran back home. The river smelled of sewage, its ice melted away. The sun only comes out about twice a month in the winter here. The weather permitted and I ran my fucking ass off. I hope to get a baby run in today, a sidecar. It’s supposed to snow. If it doesn’t sleet I’ll get my long run tomorrow.

I’m cleaning the Sawyer water filter in my Nathan water pack today, picking my route. I’m hoping to get up and go big on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tomorrow, register for classes on Tuesday, get my medication and complete all the projects and goals I’ve set for myself. That includes running a century race in March. Or October if weather does not permit.

imagine thin shaft of light on pole and left-facing shop front found in border right center canoby, curb, lampost, litter, pedestrian crossing back to front front to back middle left
Jeremy Mann