Walking Man for a runner

It’s really hard to call myself a runner. Runners are generally skinny people who wear aerodynamic, tight-fitting clothes. I’m a stocky guy with some extra baggage around my mid section. When I run, it’s more of a joke,…errr…I mean a jog and I’m almost always wearing a pair of baggy lacrosse shorts or something else around my thick legs.  The shirts that I wear are generally speaking beat up, worse than anything you’d find on the Goodwill Industries rejection shelf. Nevertheless, with my MP3 player in hand, I’m pretty happy when I’m running.

One morning in the summer of 2004, I was very anxious and unable to sleep. Waves of panic crossed over by body the entire night. When I finally was so scared that I was descending into a depressive cycle (as I do from time to time), I put on my beat up running shoes and darted for a dawn-time run down to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn. When I returned home, some time after 5:30 a.m., I was at peace and relaxed. Not only had I seen the first glimpses of sunlight reflecting off of the harbor but I’d managed to do some of my most fervent praying I’d ever done; honest and fluid and helpful and hopeful. There are moments in all of our lives in which we can feel a type of synchronism to life around us and being and that was one. I have been running a lot lately and will soon put on my shoes to go again but lately I’ve not bothered to take as much stock of the world through which I run. Although running is heightened state, there really is no reason one can not be mindful as he pounds the pavement.

Today I finished a graphic novel–if you want to call it that–that I started months ago in attempt to calm down and relax myself. I had read a few chapters of it and put it away and then revisited it today. Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi is not really a narrative on anything, but glimpses into the life of a young man who walks through the streets, parks and seaside docks of his city, which is somewhere in Japan. We do not know the name of the main character but he is accessible as a calm, clear and curious soul who with his dog, finds great stimulation in the idiosyncratic way that life unfolds, from watching strangers walk through the streets, children playing soccer or people shopping. The main character can best be described as mindful throughout, and although he has nothing of the sort of conflict we expect in narrative, he is revealed as a man who slows his life down in the moment, finding pleasure in the things we take for granted.

Released several years ago, Walking Man is a sensational book to relax with. Staring into the pen and ink frames, I became surprised at how much Taniguchi captured of urban living. He must be a very observant man, for our main character takes stock of the things that are taken for granted.

I loved Walking Man and I look forward to trying to do more of what is actually quite simple: being present in the moment, observing and living life to its fullest.

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