Out of the Darkness

AJW's TaproomThe last week of October is always one of the most challenging weeks of the running year for me. As a North American early morning runner in the final week of this year’s Daylight Saving Time, this is the darkest week of the year, literally and figuratively. Every year at this time, I look forward to the return of standard time as it brings back a bit more light and allows me to make it to the winter solstice with some light to guide my way.

I was thinking about this on my daily run earlier this week as I was peering out across the cotton fields through the beam of my headlamp in the pre-dawn darkness. I was reminded of a conversation I had had over the weekend with the children of one of the Indian families at our school who was in the midst of their annual Diwali celebration. Diwali, the five-day Hindu festival of light, annually takes place in late October on the darkest day of the lunar month and reminds families of the importance of light in the midst of the darkness. It turned out that my run on this particular day was taking place on the third day of Diwali which is the most festive of the five days. I thought about how many western traditions celebrate light in the heart of winter and how much more sense it makes to actually celebrate it in late October.

In a way, on each of my morning runs during this dark period, I have my own, personal Diwali celebration. Beginning from the front of my house in the pitch black, each day I run into the rising sun. And, while at this time of year it is barely light by the time I finish my hour run, it is enough to remind me that brighter times are coming. The arrival of those brighter times will take patience, but moving through this darkness will make it all worthwhile.

Additionally, while Diwali is most notably a celebration of light, it is also a time during which Hindus pay homage to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity and good fortune. Lakshmi, according to ancient Indian legend, represents the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. I find the story of Lakshmi particularly relevant as despair tends to creep into my psyche more readily during this dark time of year.

And so this year, I am facing up to that despair with hope and using the Diwali festival to motivate me to be more hopeful and optimistic. I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know the time change ahead, as contrived as it is, will bring with it a few more weeks of morning light and with that light will come inspiration. (My apologies to afternoon/evening runners who lose an hour this weekend.) Yes, my headlamp batteries will need to be charged and ready to go for at least four more months, but on the heels of Diwali I know that the darkness can be overcome and I can come out the other side a better runner and person.

Bottoms up!

This Week’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week is my all-time favorite Indian beer, Kingfisher Lager from United Breweries Group in Bangalore, India. Weighing in at 4.8% ABV, I first tasted Kingfisher on a bicycle trip across India in 1994 and it has remained my favorite lager ever since. Crisp and smooth, Kingfisher is, not surprisingly, best shared alongside a spicy curry dish and a little Basmati rice.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Are you also psychologically affected by the morning darkness at this time of the year?
  • Do you celebrate Diwali? Does any of the celebration carry into your running?

There are 4 comments

  1. Andy M

    Apparently Andy JW and Andy M are on opposite ends of the diurnal running spectrum, with respective feelings abut daylight savings: I’m a post-work runner and I dread this weekend!! Hmm, I guess I could start running in the morning … haha, yeah, when hell freezes over!

  2. Henry B.

    I enjoy running in the dark. There is a certain calm, stillness and peace about it. There is no traffic, few sounds and mostly a beautiful sky. You get to see a lot of animals as their eyes reflect back to you, mostly skunks but also deer and the occasional fox. Being on the western end of the time zone there is only about one month of the year that I finish a run before turning off my headlamp and seeing the sunrise.

  3. Steve W

    I’m usually out on the road at 4:15 AM and prefer running in the dark. It’s calm and peaceful. The deer are sometimes awake and the bears (I’m in northern NJ) are still asleep. With little light pollution, the full moon can be awesome casting light and shadows making the scenery completely different than during daylight.

  4. Steve J

    Really enjoyed this. Darkness can be hard to overcome, whether it be figurative or literal darkness. What a great reminder that bright times are ahead. I too learned to love Kingfisher in India! While it does pear well with spicy curry it goes better still with good friends. Those too help use through the darkness.

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