There was a time when doing one thing at a time was enough. Doing one thing well was what society expected of us and it was the way in which a meaningful life was lived. It gave us purpose and made us human. But, over the past decade or so, we have lost touch with this idea and we’ve, consequently, been overwhelmed by multi-tasking. To be perfectly frank, these days it is not good enough to do one thing well, or even two or three, we are in midst of the age of doing everything, all the time, everywhere at any time. Sometimes, I think that if you don’t have a sense of urgency you have no sense at all. This is precisely the reason that, to me, running is as important now as it’s ever been.
You see, I am as guilty as the next guy about being caught up in the multi-tasking fury. My days are filled with intermittent, seemingly random jumps from one activity to another with no sense of connection or meaning linking things together. I go from meeting to meeting, contact to contact, task to task in ways that are never reflective and rarely even interconnected. It’s as if my life is made up of a series of random tasks determined by a force far beyond my ability to comprehend. And, at the end of the day, I am often left asking the question, what did I do today?
Well, most days, the answer to that question is oblique at best and downright pathetic at worst, but if I have succeeded in getting in a run that day, the mundane, superficial, sometimes-hard-to-define stuff is a little easier to justify and that is why the long solo run is a place of such solace. When I am running, alone, on the trail, with only the sound of my breathing and my foot plants in my head I have no choice but to unitask. Nobody can call me, interrupt me, or usurp my moment. Is this selfish? Perhaps. Is this my way of detaching myself from the Real World? Certainly. Is this some sort of an “escape” for someone who can’t handle the demands of 21st Century society? I’ll let others be the judge of that.
What I do know is that my run allows me to find some sense of balance. It allows me to address the good and the bad on my terms and in my time. It gives me the opportunity to slow down and breathe and it allows me to do one thing and one thing only. In an age when doing one thing at a time is generally frowned upon, I like to think it gives me joy. And, at the end of that run, that’s all I need.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
- So, what DID you do today?
- Did you unitask? If so, when and how’d it go?