Trail Between My Legs
When last did you completely disconnect from your daily life and indulge yourself? The opportunity to spend days on end lost in a distant world is a gift more valuable than what words and pictures can do justice.
I found myself contemplating some intractable dilemmas during a week of Wild Coast trail running. These are philosophical problems that should only be contemplated during many hours of self-time so that you can wrestle with your thoughts and not be distracted by trivial matters.
It was only on Day 5 of 7 that I was able to finally achieve a breakthrough. Somewhere between Port St John’s and Umngazi River Bungalows, about 8 km into my day of cliff-top trail running, I saw the light and was able to articulate the nature of the conundrum that I was circling.
The vistas along the Wild Coast are incredible. Just about every hilltop has a view in both directions that are breathtaking. The picture is from atop the cliffs of Cathedral Rock, about 10 km up the coast from Mbotyi.
The running conditions along the coastline vary considerably. There are beautiful flat beaches that go on for ages. At spring lows running on the hard sand at the water’s edge is magical. Picture the scenes from Chariots of Fire. There are rolling grasslands that, from a distance, look like the mown lawns of a golf course. Then there are rocky cliff trails that require concentration and focus so as not to find oneself falling fifty feet onto jagged rocks below. These rocky cliff trails were the source of my mental wrestling match.
While concentrating intensely on the trail between my legs, I continually felt a strong sense of FOMO. Focusing on the trail meant that I was missing out on the continuous span of rolling waves crashing on the rocks just off to my left. My default was to think that the view of the sea and its never-ending supply of breaching whales was more beautiful than the tunnel view of the path ahead of me.
My philosophical breakthrough was the realisation that the sea view is not better than the trail view. My error was in ranking one above the other. That created a conative imbalance which made the trail view less than the sea view. When I considered the intricate detail of the trail, a new perspective was revealed to me.
The connection between the rocks and the sandy track and the way the trail followed the flowing cliff line was an organic creation of beauty. No more or no less than a wave meeting its demise against a rocky outcrop. Once I was able to internalise this critical revelation, I felt my FOMO dissipate completely.
Like life, there is a time to focus on the path ahead, and there is a time to look up to one’s surroundings and take in the bigger picture. My trail running experiences this week reminded me of many life lessons.
These insights can only be revealed once your mind is liberated from the clutter of the daily grind.