Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mt. Tam and Wildcat Canyon at Sunset...

"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead." (Albert Einstein)

One thing I have loved about writing this blog is the way it forces me to pay attention to different details when I run. It is so easy to slip into autopilot in life, whether running or in work or relationships. Yet this attention to detail is what creates a sense of wonder and awe in us. I had a conversation about relationships a long time ago with my father, and he said that every day, the person you come home to is a different person in some way. What makes the relationship continue to work is finding out what has changed about the other person--how are they different today than they were yesterday? What new detail can you learn about them today? How do we keep a sense of wonder and excitement about talking to someone we've talked to countless times before?

Extending that outwards, how do we keep a sense of wonder and excitement about our world in general? The sun comes up and goes down every day, and while that is the most routine event EVER, I have been amazed lately at how much wonder there is to be found in the same landscape.

I haven't been running any place new lately because it seems like a hassle to drive for a 25-30 minute run. Instead, I have been running at Wildcat at sunset. I don't normally run at sunset because it requires very precise timing and I don't particularly want to be caught in the dark by myself, but since I'm not running long right now, it's easier. Plus, it's given me a whole new perspective on the beauty of Wildcat Canyon. Every single sunset is different, even though the same mountain presides over the bay every time. I love exploring new trails (duh) but I have also been thinking lately about what it means to really know a particular place in all its seasons and different forms. Being forced, in a way, to examine Wildcat Canyon over and over again (even if I don't write about it) has taught me to pay more attention to everything in my life, and to celebrate the quotidian.

I have developed a great appreciation for Mt. Tamalpais, living in Richmond. One might expect to say this living in Marin, but it's hard to see the mountain's silhouette while standing close. (Apparently there is no evidence of Miwok settlements ON Mt. Tam, but plenty in Sausalito-- perhaps they, too, preferred seeing the mountain from afar.) From this side of the bay, it's easier to see the entire mountain. On top of the ridge in Wildcat Canyon, I can see the two giants of the Bay Area--Mt. Tamalpais and Mt. Diablo (whose intricacies and crazy steepness I have yet to explore at all, believe it or not!). Regardless, the sunsets have once again drawn my attention to the wealth of detail available at any given moment. In ten minutes, the light changing behind Mt. Tam gives you 50 different pictures, all of them unique and ephemeral. Most of the time, I miss them--as we miss the majority of the miracles happening around us all the time.

Even this tree--something I have run past hundreds of times--is worth looking at a second time. And a third. And a fifteenth or two hundredth.


Carolina John said...

Great pics! I love the idea of getting off-road some. and you're right, after you've been with the same person for a long time the days can get repetitive. I'm going to have to watch out for that.

thanks for stopping by my blog. I love your concept of "a trail running tart"! awesome!

Kevin said...

I run the same trail/route over and over and over again and sort of zone out, only awakening to avoid an oncoming car or to say hello to a passing runner. But I wonder what I'd discover if I paid a little more attention. Hmmmmm.

Rick Gaston said...

I hope I never lose that wonder and excitement for the trails and my surroundings in general. As for exploring Mt. Diablo, the Mt. Diablo 50k will take care of that issue, actually the 25k would be enough.

Jo Lynn said...

I'm in awe every time I'm out on any trail. I can see the beauty in a trail that might be sprinkled a little more with big leaves. I think the pictures you took are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing them.

Derek said...

Great post and I love the pictures. Most of my runs are here in my neighborhood on a busy 4 lane road, with the same views over and over. I long for the day that I can take to the trails and see the views you have. Keep them coming.

Donald said...

Beautiful pics - I can feel your sense of wonder just by looking at them. I love both of those mountains - I just wished I lived close enough to visit them more often. You have to get yourself on Diablo someday, girl!

P.S. I LOVED your comment about Gladwell on my blog. I hope it's OK with you, but I forwarded it along to his website.

(Kidding ... but it did cross my mind.)