August 3, 2006
39000 steps to recovery
I don't believe in magic or the supernatural. I wish I believed in God, but I'm just not sure if I do. Last night I had the strangest, most awful dream. It had very little of the coyness that comes with dreams. There was next to no symbolism; almost nothing was left to interpretation and it was just a harsh, flat, realistic landscape of a dream. I dreamed my recently-deceased friend had told me he was going to kill himself, and I spent the whole dream chasing him down imploring him not to. The only vaguely symbolic thing was a marathon that my friend's girlfriend and I were running together; somehow I knew the outcome before the race was over (and it was a 3:05 or 3:06, ha). The race was an out-n-back and as we neared the turnaround we saw my friend coming back at us. We were surprised to see him because we thought he'd already made up his mind to kill himself. It turned out he was running to whereever it was he was going to die. I threw my arms around him and cried and begged, "please, please, don't do this to me," thinking the idea that his suicide might hurt other people might finally sway him. But he held fast. Other jumbledness: something about a baseball game (one had been on TV when I fell asleep last night), and having to hide all this sadness from my friend's brother and sister-in-law, who were at the game.
I opened my eyes and saw 4:30 on the clock, groaned "oh god" to that god I don't know well. I had road repeats (6x800) this morning, I warmed up 4 miles and wondered whether the thunderstorm just west of us would roll in. It didn't, and I somehow ended up completing all 6 repeats and averaging 2:59, and during the last 2 items the thunderstorm blew icy wind at me just when I needed it most.
I don't mean to dwell on all this, especially here in blogland. Things really are beginning to start to appear to be inching toward getting better, most of the time.
Posted by joe positive at August 3, 2006 7:40 PM
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This topic is a little risky to be out-of-the-blued. Nonetheless, please accept the following, from personal experience and the odd reading here and there.
Sometimes, for some people, dreams are not what we tend to coventionally believe dreams are (like a movie short or a commercial, or a fantasy tv episode with an explicable moral of sorts.)
Dreams can be a continuation of reality as a "conversation" with ourselves while we sleep. It's cool unless the topic is a painful one (sleep or no sleep.)
It is not unusual for people to feel helpless or somehow involved (possibly guilty) when a dear person dies or commits suicide. I think the first thing that would come to mind would be: "Could I have done anything to avoid this? To save him?"
This is quite clearly manifested in your scenario when you say you knew the outcome of the marathon and you also believed your friend had decided to kill himself. If you knew, you ask yourself, why not do something earlier, as in before bumping into him on his way to his death place, all the while knowing (you and your friend's girlfriend) that he already "made up his mind?"
You can think you are going to finish a marathon in 3:05 based on your pace at half-way, on your training or what you know of yourself, but you can't be sure till you do it. You can think you know a person (or yourself) extremely well and be completely in the dark about some deeply buried emotional mechanisms. If you can believe that Life has a mysterious quality about it (no more, no less than the godly acquaintance you sometimes invoke) taking one's Life has to be exponentially more mysterious than living itself. A stark statement that unlike a marathon, in Life there's no turn-around point, there's no set distance. There's no way of knowing it.
It would seem that in your heart, you knew to have transmitted/shown enough Love to this person to believe that he would not hurt you by taking his own life ("Please do not do this to me.") And while doubts are constantly harbored by deep and sensitive people, you seem to agree with yourself that you are not responsible for this death ("He held fast.") Maybe too "mysteriously" fast for an optimistic long distance runner like joe positive... Still, it is not your fault. On some crazy, cathartic level, maybe you could dedicate him some speed workouts... (maybe you already have...) Heck, they run memorial runs of all sorts, with thousands of people. Why couldn't we run our own, solitary workout for our dearest friends?
Just an idea from reading what you wrote. In my experience, feelings of mourning can last anywhere from quite-a-bit to forever. My best wishes :-) corrado.
I do have a question: why "39000" ?
Posted by: corrado giambalvo at August 4, 2006 6:56 PM
Corrado: 39,000 is the approximate number of steps needed to complete a marathon, assuming a stride length of about 3.5 feet.
Posted by: crowther at August 5, 2006 11:12 AM
crowther: good guess, but that's not what I was thinking.
Corrado: that title is just jumbled punning. I was thinking about The 39 Steps, also about "recovery" via 12-step program (something I've never gotten into), and how some recoveries seem like they're gonna take a lot more than 12, or even 39, steps. Thanks for your comment, by the way. It was much appreciated.
Posted by: joe positive at August 5, 2006 12:18 PM
:), joe +ve, oh man, i got totally wasted connecting The 39 Steps to 12 Steps! Got some re-reading and re-watching to do! Jumbled punning is a mild understatement. Talk about cerebral breadth... Thought, in its purest form, at obsessive, addictive levels. Negative words for a wonderful process, hinting at recovery no less. Why is that? I can't think of any reason why we should stop Thinking. But I have heard more than once before, from friend and not-friend alike, "you think too much!" To date I can't figure out why anybody should try to think less than more. Yet there's a lot of "we do the thinking for you" input going around. There is very clearly the possibility of thinking a lot, figuring things out, and deciding to call it quits. An immensely painful scenario. Maybe that's why we got hardpatched with endorphines. Both as doers and witnesses. Maybe that's why it is not a bad idea to keep on running random reality checks on bigger-than-big panels to make "figuring things out" a less then perfect fit. An optimistic, rudimentary safety valve, i suppose, only suppose... Take care, corrado
Posted by: corrado giambalvo at August 5, 2006 6:18 PM
JP: Please take the following comments for what they're worth--the heartfelt reactions of a theologian still in Seminary.
Those who tell you that you have to know exactly what you believe in order to pray to God are most likely demagogues or con artists. In rare cases, they are well-meaning fundamentalists.
Those who claim to know God generally blaspheme. In a rare case, it can come from divine revelation.
The wish to believe is already a belief. It is not dogma. People often confuse the two.
Dreams of the dead are powerful visions, venerated among many ancient cultures for thousands of years. I wouldn't pass it off as mere psychology, the "science" of which has only been around about a century or so.
Not knowing what to think is a means of prayer.
Posted by: stephen at August 18, 2006 12:37 AM
Stephen, that was beautiful. Thanks.
Posted by: joe positive at August 21, 2006 5:59 PM