Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sin, Psychology and Sport

As I was hammering my way down the road on my 40 minute run, enjoying the countryside, enjoying the snow falling lightly on the fields, trees and lake...

No, not enjoying; enduring.

Not me. Not fat enough. Too much hair.
I thought: what a metaphor for life: life is like a jog: there are parts that are enjoyable, like the scenery, the idea that I am becoming a better runner, the idea that I am strengthening my will, the idea that I can offer my discomfort for the spiritual good of others (I always offer my runs for people).. but fun, no; unabashed enjoyment, no. Sometimes it's just darn hard, taxing. Your lungs ache, your legs ache, your ankles ache... But, again, isn't it a lot like life - not enjoyable, but meaningful, nevertheless.

It represents life to me. It is punishing and yet rewarding - and that sounds like a very Catholic mindset - a very religious mindset, that one must punish oneself for some reason. It represents life to me, and maybe that's why I do it?

Then I thought, I wonder if the sports you do, or the exercise you do, actually reflects your outlook on life.

I always say that soccer is a gentleman's sport, whereas hockey is for the uncouth. And then hockey fans retort, complaining about soccer players pretending to be injured: a bunch of lying Italian babies, they say. But let's look closer for a moment. What does marathon running say about a person - are they the type to believe that all of life's difficulties can be solved by simple hard work and perseverance? Do the sprinters, weightlifters and football players believe that sheer force can do anything - but that it is all about grand gestures and make-it-or-break-it moments? Do sports team players tend to be extroverted and more democratic in outlook?

Sports, exercise - these things generally call for the sort of exertion that makes one look at one's life. Unless your exercise consists in the occasional casual walk, it's difficult. Persevering in difficult things, even difficult physical things can make you look at your life, and I think that's a good thing. Maybe the difficulty will teach you that you should not work so hard at your physical health, but perhaps your spiritual health too, or instead. Maybe it'll teach you that should finally stop being so lazy in all things, not just physical things?

I've always been drawn to jogging. Maybe that says something about me. Drawn, but I've taken years off from it here and there. My psychological relationship with self-punishment. How much I will accept and how much I consider too much. This, obviously, is related to how much suffering we will take in our jobs, our marriages, our friendships; how we define suffering; perhaps, how we are touched by the suffering of others.


  1. Running and the spiritual life have always gone hand in hand to me. Nice post.

  2. We'll have to talk about this some time. I had you and Dave in mind while writing...