The Magic Of Lakeside

Beyond the Razzle-Dazzle

By Don Beaudreau

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The early morning was alive with the dancing of clouds and the greening of hills. The rainy season had come to Lakeside! How wonderful! How vibrant!

The rain stopped for the moment, so I took advantage of this to do errands with my car. I just turned onto the carretera when I saw that other Lakesiders decided to be active, too. But not all of them were in vehicles. Some were walking, jogging, or cycling on the bike path that runs alongside our main road. Babies in strollers were pushed while puppies on leashes were pulled. Young lovers strolled hand-in-hand while oldsters shuffled with canes-in-hand.  It was an image that symbolized the diversity of our Lakeside community, an ordinary moment to experience at Lakeside these days.

We can give thanks to the new-and-improved ciclopista, a gift from the state of Jalisco. But this gift represents more than just an ordinary reality. It adds another element of magic to our community: providing us with a means to connect to others. It brings us together without our having to pay a yearly membership fee; pass a test; recite a creed; sing a song; or audition for a play.

Indeed, our ciclopista is a much-awaited and much-appreciated gift for many of us. As a distance runner for 60 years who became more and more competitive as I got older, I am thrilled by this gift! I know that it can provide not only a sense of increased community, but also give the individual some time to be away from the responsibilities and expectations of others.

So even in my passing car on that cloudy day, I felt connected to all who were moving along that particular path. It was an ecstatic experience for me, one that lifted me out of my sense of self, and connected me to those on that path. In addition, I felt something I felt before, during my many years of running: that I am part of something larger, but then so is everyone else— as is every aspect of nature. 

I know that when I run I feel connected to the unifying principle of creation. I am part of the universe and therefore am timeless, without boundaries. And so are you! And all of nature. We are star stuff and will be so again. The exquisite things I have witnessed while running have taught me that we are one with each other and with all nature; we are connected and interdependent.

I have felt this unifying principle when I have run with deer in the spring forests of West Virginia, snakes in the summer grass of Florida, mongrel dogs in the wintry streets of Persia, sea otters on the beaches by the autumnal bays of California. I have moved through morning mists around the parapets of Granada’s Alhambra Palace and through the warming desert air of dawn over the old sector of Jerusalem’s dusty streets. I have communed with ancient rulers and prophets—companion ghosts encircling me, those “Great Companions” spoken of by Whitman. My feet have raced over the frozen sidewalks of Broadway by night, the steamy mid-day streets of New Orleans’ Vieux Carre, the rocky ledges of a secluded Aegean seaport at sunset, the springtime greenery of London’s Hampstead Heath. I have run across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, up Honolulu’s Diamondhead, along Chicago’s Lake Michigan, around Washington’s National Monument, along the snow-capped peaks of Colorado’s Rockies, through the bustling noonday streets of a reconstructing East Berlin.

I have dodged cars, trucks, busses, scooters, roller blades, even trains. I have avoided colliding with babies on beaches, adolescent lovers on sidewalks, oldsters on canes. I have had a few nasty falls, and have the scars to prove it. Despite these challenges and others, I have survived and learned a few lessons.

I know that running is not just a physical thing for me. It is my meditation. It is a “running” meditation, rather than a “walking” one spoken of by the Eastern mystics. I guess some of us need to meditate faster than others!

One other thing about my running as a spiritual discipline is that I choose to run alone, although I am not really alone: I observe other people going about their daily tasks. Sometimes they wave at me; sometimes I wave back. In my mind, I connect with people I have known or currently know: the ones I care for the most, and the ones who fill me with anger or sadness or frustration. In this regard, I often take my troubles on the road, and the road becomes my therapist. I talk out my problems—with my feet. So, a large retinue of humanity accompanies me on my journey; and sometimes non-human animals. My companions include the ones I know; and the ones I meet through audio books or the radio.                                                                                                                                                  

And oh that hodgepodge of confused thoughts that travel the open road with me! Sometimes they gain clarity when I run. While running, I have written doctoral dissertations in my head and novels; learned obscure languages and created new ones; figured out the meaning of life; devised a plan to eliminate world debt; solved the mystery of the Holy Grail; discovered the fate of Amelia Earhart; and located the whereabouts of the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls. I have accomplished these things and more when I run.

Yes, when I run, a metamorphosis occurs within me. I feel pure, light—so charged by breath that like the title of that novel, my whole being shudders with the terrible lightness of being.

I know I never shall be the great athlete of whom the poet A. E. Houseman speaks. No one shall ever chair me “through the market-place” with all “cheering by” nor bring me “shoulder-high” nor place a “garland briefer than a girl’s” on this increasingly balding head of mine.

I never will achieve such accolades. I trust I only run to find myself—the deeper me, the one that so easily gets lost in the razzle dazzle of a materialistic existence. I run to rediscover that kid in me who once experienced life as play, who looked up into those cavorting clouds and witnessed angels dancing! I run and become alive again, and feel at times—even during the physical stress of the run—that I am one with all creation.

And then there is joy far beyond what material existence can give me. It is at that moment that I exist at the very edge of the universe, and glimpse the light from distant stars that beckon to me from an existence I am yet to know.

It is then that I resonate with Walt Whitman’s “Open Road” and discover that life is: To know the universe itself as a roadas many roadsas roads for traveling souls.

*****

So you see our Lakeside ciclopista is more than just a way to get from one place to another. It is a bit of magic alongside the shores of our ancient lake that provides a way to deeper connection with today’s Lakeside community, but also invokes the spirits of those we knew and the spirits of those ancient people who once walked these hills, and swam in this lake.

Lakeside! A magical place, indeed!

 

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