I remember hearing about some native ritual from long ago whereby young men as passport to manhood are deprived of food and water and sent out to the wilderness alone. They starve and thirst and achieve a heightened sense of awareness and gain better focus on what is truly important or they die in the wilderness. They call it a Vision Quest. Tough love!
I believe the turning point or epiphany the young man observes has a lot to do with the deprivation of the normal, the material and survival goods that surround his everyday life.
For me this past week was full of epiphanies, if that’s possible. I’ve gone on week long business trips without family but I always have my running. You see I’m a runner. Running makes me normal. On my runs I find solace. On my runs my head become clearer thinking. So when I don’t run I go through several stages much like hunger. To take running away from me makes me less than normal. On the first day I yearn for it and miss it. On the second day I get cranky and pretty miserable to be around. On the third day I’m kind of weird almost like a constant confusion, a daze if you will. And that’s usually the most it ever goes because injuries are rare, sickness only last a few days and I’ll run on the cusp of recovery. Day Four never comes, I have never walked into the wilderness.
My company as a reward for the past years performance take the top ten reps on an all expenses paid trip to some plush resort. They then proceed to pamper said employee and their spouse to a weekend of decadence. This year I was so lucky to attend the weekend in Boca Raton, Florida.
This past week, as I said was full of epiphanies. Our whole family, even Nana was sick with a respiratory infection. Everybody went on some form of antibiotic, me being a mediphobe (fear of medication – my term) did not take any. So for three days I didn’t run. I was on the cusp of recovery, Day Four, when our trip to Boca Raton was scheduled. I walked into the wilderness on my Vision Quest.
Because of the time difference, jet lag, and social networking I didn’t run for the duration of the trip. I had a short 40 minute bout on a treadmill but treadmills just don’t count. By this time I was on day 5 of my Vision Quest.
My first epiphany was more of a point of clarity. The realization that my wife means everything to me became clearer than ever. We talked like when we first met, we hung out like we were the only two people in the World. We didn’t fight or argue. On the other end of the continent was our world, we were in the wilderness. We could survive and communicate and love each other without being entwined in our world. The epiphany part is that sometimes because of the daily routines and fast paced schedule of raising children, holding down a job to pay the mortgage and feed the kids. The romancing takes a back seat or at least sits in the side car on the motorcycle of life. With some people it’s lost altogether and never noticed until the kids are gone and there is no mortgage. But for us this trip reinforced our bond, our love.
I just wish it could be that way more often. I see glimpses of it in the twenty or so minutes between the time the last child goes to bed and we go to bed ourselves. Seeing that glimpse now makes me smile like it never use to.
I’m back running again. Vision Quest completed. Things are normal again, I have just gained greater focus.
I hope all of you who read this blog someday get a chance to get epiphanies like I did.