Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Run Concludes

The "den-mother" who hadn't appreciated my shirtless running left the Peace Run after a month. She was quickly replaced my my actual mother.

I hadn't been in close contact with mom for some time. Not because of any past conflict or anything -- I just hadn't been all that close to any family members since moving to New York a few years earlier.

But with Jeevan and Nirbachita now in the Center that began to change. While I think both of them were still members of the San Francisco Center, they were making weekly trips south to Santa Cruz in an effort to re-establish a Center there. Coincidentally, that's also where my mom was living. For that reason, I think, mom slowly began getting more and more involved in Center-related activities.

When it became clear to us on the run that we needed someone to join the team who had some cooking abilities, my mom's name surfaced -- I'm not sure how. I just remember Shambhu calling from New York to ask me if I'd mind having my mom on the rest of the run with us. I said it would be okay and as the run entered the Southwest, mom joined the team. Almost immediately we had a shout-fest right out in the open (because I had been too lazy to do some chore she had asked me to do). But after that -- after we had both marked our respective territories as it were -- things seemed to be fine.

As much as I had loved the Southwest, I was ecstatic as we passed through the Californian desert and reached the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. First stop: the Clam (where we had gone on Peace Run '87, too). Later, as the run turned north up the California coast it really felt to me like home. And we had so many California disciples ready and willing to run with the torch, I got some time off and actually drove up to Morgan Hill -- to my dad's place -- with Durdam (whom I'll have more to say about shortly).

Psychologically, therefore, it was difficult for me as the run passed through Oregon and Washington and then turned east for the slow slog back to New York. One incident in particular illustrates both my building frustration and my realization that I had been right in telling Guru that my hunger for the Divine wasn't going to return; I wanted out. It happened one evening somewhere in the Midwest.

For some unavoidable reason -- injury or mechanical breakdown or something -- the team couldn't meet its mileage goal for the day. The afternoon crew came up short, so Arpan asked me if I'd skip dinner and go out with him and bang out an extra eight miles between the both of us so that we wouldn't get behind. We had both already run our allotted 10-12 miles earlier in the day, but it was important that the team as a whole didn't start falling behind on our schedule, so we stepped up.

Arpan's plan was for us to leap frog each other. Typically on the Peace Run there was only one runner running at a time -- it was a relay after all. But in this situation, Arpan felt -- and I agreed -- that we should just get the mileage done as quickly as we could so that we could get back to base, get dinner, and hit the hay. So, once we found the spot where the afternoon crew had finished earlier in the day, Arpan dropped me off with a torch. He said he'd give me a bit of a head start, and then drive up about two miles and park the car. From there, he'd start running. Once I got to the car, I'd drive past him a set distance, park, and start running another leg. In this way, we could crank out the eight additional miles in pretty short order.

The problem? It was dark, the road was curvy, and I was fatigued. On my first leg of running, I couldn't find the car. I ran for 20 minutes: no car. Two miles shouldn't have taken more than 15 minutes. So, I doubled back for 10 minutes, thinking that perhaps I had unwittingly passed the parked car. No dice.

I blew my stack. "Goddammit," I yelled to the dark countryside. With all my might I slammed the torch -- custom made and relatively expensive -- into the pavement. It was destroyed and I flung it into the bushes alongside the road. All my pent-up frustration with being back in the Center -- my growing, yet unquenchable, desire for a girlfriend -- all came out at that moment. Why had I come back to the Center?

I was tired, hungry, and frustrated. As I turned around and began walking slowly back in the other direction, I was sure. Once back in New York, I would have to leave the Center after all. I had to get out. I was feeling emotionally claustrophobic and the confinement of life on the road on the Peace Run just exacerbated that feeling. Before I could do anything, however, I had to find the car. I found it a short while later, just a hundred yards beyond where I had originally stopped running.

By the late summer, the Peace Run concluded back in New York. The rest of my journey east was much better. The lost car incident had been the low point for me. But the realization that I'd have to leave the Center in the near future was as clear as ever. Nevertheless, it was with great relief that I found myself back in New York, back at the tennis court, and back with Guru -- back around familiar surroundings and off the road.

The picture above shows Guru at the tennis court just before the start of the August Celebrations handing me a custom, made-by-Sanatan, plaque, commemorating my participation on the Peace Run '89.

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