Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Wrath, Envy

What am I doing?

Do I have an attention problem? I spent my years 16-21 stuck in the Dark Ages of personal development, only focusing on competitive running and my own ego, all the while stifling what was to become a seemingly overwhelming need to figure out something. I guess it turns out that that something is also something I need to figure out, but whatever, it doesn't really matter.

I'm a narcissist. I take ordinary things and make them into something enjoyable, or I throw them away. Running is my paradigm. When I ran, and when I was good, my ego thrived off of the success, and wallowed in any admiration of others. It still does. But, I don't think I need to do it forever. Or maybe I do. I pride myself in never having taken illegal drugs, whatever that means. I first drank alcohol when I was twenty and a half, smoked one cigarrette (didn't inhale; will that joke ever die?) when I was twenty-four and drunk, but I got addicted at sixteen to one of those Sensationally Sexy Seven Sins, Pride.

He is the heavy cavalry, the tin-alloy soldier, the reinforcements, and on speed dial on the mobile phones of the other six. Perhaps it was earlier that I began, but I was doing Pride when I started school, and got good grades. People called me smart. I won the geography bee in the sixth grade. I am still embarassed that I misspelled "tortoise" in the spelling bee in the fifth grade, especially when neither of the two kids remaining could spell "mystify". Everybody knows that the second letter is a y. I could have won. Like tracks on my arm.

In German, Sinn means meaning, more or less, and that's what Pride did for me. In my life I've wanted the hottest girlfriend, the most money, to eat the most hot dogs in twelve minutes, the longest nap, and to exact revenge on those who have wronged me. Or, in the last case, more likely those who have embarassed me, because in all five cases, it was a competition. He who wins gets Pride, and the envy of others. Without winning, I am just an Other.

A wise fictitious action-movie archaeologist once said, "Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory." While neither of those are complete sentences, I understand the meaning. It is presented as a goal. Since when do two deadly deadly sins make an admirable goal? I'd say: since Lance Armstrong realized that it was about the bike and decided to win seven in a row; since Christian Bale decided to work his ass off in theatre; or since Takeru Kobayashi thought that maybe he could fit 53.5 hot dogs and buns in his stomach or wherever. What did they earn? Pride. Pride-pride-pride-pride-pride. And money, but then they bought more Pride.

I eat that stuff for breakfast, but lately I've been feeling a bit thin, so I decided to Michael Jordan my way back into competitive running. I was out in 2003, back in in 2004, out and back in in 2005, and then made it three months in 2006, before now. I think I'm on the Wizards now. Well, whatever. I didn't feel like running any more. In other words, I wasn't getting enough attention and my ego was feeling a bit thin. The year 2007 and its goal of learning German hasn't quite paid off in the Pride account. (Who the #@&% cares but me?) And, I'll never win an international German competition in front of thousands of people. I need a new drug. I need to go back to the old drug. I'm in a new city, making new friends, and having what I see as a much better opportunity to astound people with my slightly-above-average endurance (only on my feet).

I run for Pride. I run to destroy the short-term hopes of others. I run... because somebody didn't believe that I would win, and the look on their face when I did fed me for years. Then I woke up in a train station bathroom with a needle in my arm and had to hit the streets again.

It just gets boring. But less boring than anything else I would do for twenty hours per week. So I'm picking it up again and maybe I'll find something to last for the rest of my life. Maybe it's a habit, maybe it's a compulsion, but since my Dark Ages I've been lost. I can't be average, but I haven't found my way yet.

On the back of the American's shirt yesterday, for the first time I've seen it on a runner:

...and miles to go before I sleep.


tc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tc said...

Awesome. I like what you've written already, and I can't wait to read more.

Also, I think you're too hard on yourself. I never thought you were a pride-monger - just thought you were goal-oriented. I guess it is all about perception.

Miss ya, BG. Take care of yourself.


Ryan said...

When did you start writing a blog? I'm impressed. Mostly because I was just thinking about this exact topic yesterday, and how pride is a folly of the insecure. There is a difference between wanting and being the best and pride, however, but it's a fine line. Certainly when you argued with me over who ran the course the slowest, that was a low point in both our lives. I say, let others be proud of you, it helps fill a void. I'm proud of you BG, and I'll let someone else be proud of me.