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Thoughts from the Road on Meaning and Mortality

by Mark Rowlands

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-60598-477-3
Publisher: Pegasus

Rowlands (Philosophy/Univ. of Miami; The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness, 2009, etc.) meditates on how running has brought him “in contact with the intrinsic value of life.”

The author reflects on his boyhood and carefree runs with his dog in the hills of his native Wales, with nothing in mind but the experience itself. This was a time when he first felt what he calls “the heartbeat of the run.” Later in life, he ran more purposefully. At the age of 27, he acquired Brenin, a cuddly wolf cub. Running with Brenin was the only way to channel his exuberant pet's energy. With the later addition of two canines, the dogs in his pack became his regular running companions, and he describes how he was afflicted with “a rather unfortunate case of species-envy.” Though running became a significant part of Rowlands' life, he writes, it took many years before he truly understood its value to him. In 2011, he decided to enter his first marathon, in Florida, where he lived with his wife, sons and dogs. Still, he questioned his motives. Was this a way of addressing a midlife crisis, proving to himself he was up to the challenge? Despite an injury incurred during training, he was able to get in sufficient shape to run, although his training was set back by the need to rest his leg. He describes his thinking process as he battled increasing pain and exhaustion and wondered whether he would collapse before the finish line. In the end, Rowlands concludes that, for him, running is not pleasurable in the usual sense but an experience valuable in itself—a “way of being rather than a way of feeling.”

A delightful re-creation of a memorable experience with special appeal for runners, pet lovers and the philosophically inclined.