Thanksgiving Day 8

I have one more day tomorrow. Then back to work.

Today was a hermit day. I didn\’t talk to anyone at all. I may have seen a person or two when out walking, but no interaction. Oh wait, I saw a number of men putting lights on their houses. A car or two passed me also. Tomorrow, when I go to the other park, I\’ll probably say hi to a person or two.

Today I did 3 workouts. A cross training circuit of 7 activities: bike, elliptical, step platform, durability, nordic track, versa climber and rowing. Then I walked 8.35 miles in 2 hours. Then, later, I rode the elliptical for 36 min plus free weights and core for 28 minutes.

One more day. So far this vacation, I\’ve completed 139+ miles and 38+ hours. Is this just training? I don\’t know. It is what I do every weekend and how I plan to spend my life after full time job is done.

Today, my resentments were not there at all. I let go of everything.

While riding my elliptical, I was starting to take stock of 2014:
A new car. A new computer. My work phone was upgraded to an iphone so I am now apple ID\’d. Plowing through Plotinus\’ Enneads. Continuing student of A Course in Miracles. Still in Texas. Still a process safety engineer. Gave my first talk at a symposium. Still sober. Still vegetarian. Still not a church goer, voter or TV watcher. No movies. No sexual partner or even any friendships really; although one man insisted that the AA group was indeed my family. Two half marathons. One 25k race. Two full marathons (Calgary and Utah). One 50k ultra so far. One virtual race, in which I finished 200 miles and won $200. No surgeries. Numerous books read, miles run, weights lifted. Daily spiritual practice. People hated and loved. Numerous people smiled at. Numerous crock pots of beans and steamers of rice. Numerous peanut butter sandwiches and apples. Bills and taxes paid. Starship Baytown invented.

I need to go deeper. What really happened? That list is just the superficial.

Life itself still alive.

For the Record

Whenever I have days off from work, I also have the idea that somewhere in the silence and miles, a spiritual break through will occur.

Something at least note worthy did happen this morning. A few weeks ago, I read Sam Harris\’ book \”Waking Up.\” It annoyed me when he has long explanations about \”…this self is nowhere to be found…\” or \”…the self does not survive scrutiny…the feeling of being a thinker of thoughts inside one\’s head…\” or \”…look closely for what you are calling \”I\”, and the feeling of being a separate self will disappear…\”

I finally realized my confusion this morning. What Mr Harris calls \”I\” is what A Course in Miracles calls ego. What Mr Harris finds beyond the \”I\” is what A Course in Miracle calls Self.

I need to stop beating myself up with other people\’s techniques and experiences. Because, yes in fact, I am able to look between the thoughts. The fact that there is no emotion or objective sense of enlightenment is what makes it real. The problem is that the stream of thoughts called ego doesn\’t approve and can\’t use the silence. My ego most emphatically wants an objective and be able to lay a claim, \”I did this,\” or \”I am that.\” A Course in Miracles explains all this. I now understand that Mr Harris is saying the same but in words from his experience.

I realize that my frustration is an ego function. The Self between the thoughts never cared about this. It was my ego who read other\’s experiences of enlightenment and judged itself less than for not having had such a wonderful experience. My ego says that God doesn\’t love me because I can\’t point to some fabulously engaging emotional experience called enlightenment. I have endless difficulties with this ego; but any moment of silence produces calm. Living from the calm is what ACIM teaches.

Is my intuition my Self speaking? Is there a Spirit which is not Self? Personally, I believe that if there is a Self, then there is a Creator. ACIM gives the Spirit as a communication medium. Obviously, many books are written on this subject. What matters to me is intuitive thoughts.

For any who thought I missed Thanksgiving Day 7, I\’ll just mention that I had a nice jog outside in the park. I went to an AA meeting. I had another nice workout indoors which included strength training. Today, I will do an indoor workout. My feet and legs feel good, but I also feel like keeping them that way. Cross training, development of durability, will be most important for the next 7 months; or indeed for the next 30 years.

For any who wondered about what I said regarding philosophy studies and writing essays. The \”teacher\” replied that he got tired of grading student essays and has stopped doing it. So it won\’t be learning to write essays that sharpens my thinking. Maybe that was never necessary since it was really the unproductive Silence that I need more.

Thanksgiving Day 6

Don\’t you think it is funny that someone who doesn\’t participate in Thanksgiving has 9 days of blogs entitled Thanksgiving? Today is THE actual day. I have 9 days of gratitude because it is so precious that I ever get a week off work.

Today I was clearly tired from my 30 miles yesterday. Nothing was damaged so I went for an 11.2 mile, 3 hour walk. That went really well. I was pleased with the walking speed and that nothing felt injured. But also, I couldn\’t jog at all. No bounce in my steps. So, I know what day 2 of my 55 hour multi-day race will feel like.

I\’ve had extra time today to think about a potential project. A few days ago, I thought about the word \”essay.\” It struck me as a technical term and a specific type of highly thoughtful writing. I wondered if learning more about how to write an essay and then applying my mind to the practice could improve my thinking. By improve I mean depth I guess. I\’d like to think with more depth and wisdom. Reading Plotinus has shown me what depth could be. The engineer in me thinks of this idea as a solvable problem. It doesn\’t require God or enlightenment. Just study, do the work, learn, succeed.

I found an online philosophy course. Mainly, you study written materials and then write an essay on one of the questions. You can then submit the essay and have a mentor critique it.

In relation to Thanksgiving, I\’ve noticed that the topic of working in soup kitchens is a dogma for a good thing to do. Helping others is often touted as making something good out of your life. I think for me, training my thinking would be a way to add value to my life. Writing a good essay, even if unrecognized, would be a metaphysical triumph.

Thanksgiving Day 5

I did it!

I had the alarm set for 5:30 and I easily got up. If you make it out of bed, your chances of a long run go way up. I already had all my drinks mixed and in the fridge. So after spiritual study, I went to the park. Got started a 6:47. Finished about 2:25 which includes the pit stops. Time moving forward was 7h14min for 30 miles.

Laps went really well being 11 minutes each. Overall, I had numerous short stops and lost about 3 minutes per hour or so. I was chilly at first but warmed up very nice. Totally clear day with a breeze. Some boys were playing in the park most of the day. After about 6 hours, they tried to play a trick on me, but I had already seen them do that to a car so I called them on it. They laughed and one of them gave me a thumbs up. I was sort of honored to be thought worthy of a shenanigan. Then a little while later, Mr Thumbs Up came over on his bicycle and talked to me. He said I reminded them of Forest Gump and they thought I must be breaking a world\’s record for jogging.

I can survive 30 miles on gatorade, accelerade, soy milk, mountain dew, fig bars and apples. Only blister problem on the big toes. Heel and knee did really well and I wasn\’t wearing any tape on the knee.

To be honest, it is pretty freak\’n awesome that I have the mental fortitude to do 40 laps by myself. But it seemed to go by pretty fast. 

Honestly, I\’ve been dreaming of this accomplishment since about March when I signed up for the 55 hour race. Its huge that I did it.

Here is my aid station parked at the library:

Here is what 30 miles looks like on fitbit:
There will be no alarm clock tomorrow; but I will do some walking just to show myself I can.



Thanksgiving Day 4

Well, rest day. I slept in and then lolly gagged buying running shoes at an early black Friday sale. I also was musing about whether it would be possible to get a philosophy degree on-line. I found an interesting philosophy page which discussed the writing of essays. Reminds me that this blog is very bad in regards to organized thought. I had a nice spiritual study and then made it to the trail at 10:20.

My ACIM lesson was, \”I am in danger nowhere in the world.\” I wasn\’t really clicking with this lesson until I sat quietly. Then it came to me: I am always wrapped in Love\’s embrace.\” And this is what I took with me to the trail. Today, I remembered my garmin and everything. I decided to go to a small loop and be sure to measure it. Yes, it is 0.75 miles. So this loop will be my mental training loop for the 55 hour race over New Years.

Today, I was clearly not interested in long hours of miles. I was thinking alot about my pacing and timing for the 55 hour race. I decided that a good experiment would be for me to try at least one day, if not two days, of 40 laps on this 0.75 mile loop. I thought tomorrow and Thursday would be good. So I kept today short, just 2 hours.

Consequently, the groceries, the car wash, the AA meeting and the house cleaning got done. The AA meeting was about drinking and holidays. I kept quiet since I don\’t want to discuss my particular outlook on holiday activities. As a general rule, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is assumed that you must participate. If you have no family then you should join another gathering or volunteer at a soup kitchen. If you don\’t participate then you are not grateful. Christmas is worse. You must participate in the \”reason for the season\” or you are a scrooge and ungrateful to God.

My radical plan for Thanksgiving is to walk around a park 40 times.

Also, I started a new book on the philosophy of Dune. It is an easy read and interesting. Combined with Plotinus and my general yearning for depth of thought and spirituality, I again muse about the nature of life. Do I think at all? I see that my mind is often caught up in resentments. I can think about something else whenever I realize I need to. That is a practice of solitude.

I first heard of \”solitaries\” about 2 years before entering the monastery. After leaving the monastery, I continued to pursue solitude. I don\’t know what I will find here. I don\’t know if only gaining solitude on nights and weekends is enough. I stand outside the tribe. This is my contemplation.

Thanksgiving Day 3

I got up when the alarm went off. Very good.

Then, I was studying Plotinus\’ Ennead 6.1.x. And this is what is interesting for me about Plotinus. I have Bachelor\’s and Master\’s degrees in engineering, but no where in my studies did philosophy appear. So when Plotinus starts a topic like \”Existents\” I am fascinated. I\’m not sure about the spirituality of it, but certainly it teaches me to think deeper.

I\’m not here going to teach philosophy. But here is an interesting sentence. Yes, I had to read before and will read more after. But it is a gem which doesn\’t seem to occur elsewhere in my contemplation: \”Supposing we grant that all things known as substances are homogeneous as possessing something denied to the other genera, what precisely is this something, this individuality, this subject which is never a predicate, this thing not present in any thing as in a subject, this thing which does not owe its essential character to any other thing, as a quality takes character from a body and a quantity from a substance, as time is related to motion and motion to the moved?\”

And then I went to the park for running. First off, while I had a full hydropak, I forgot the bag with the garmin and the hats/glasses. I had another hat and glasses in the car and decided to do a loop I knew the length of. I had no idea how long I\’d go. I guess at most until the hydropak ran out. I ran a 2.5 mile loop from the gazebo to Pine Gully and back. It was a beautiful day. I got to look at Galveston Bay every loop. I saw smoke coming from something, but nothing in the news about it. I\’m still blowing my nose alot from my cold last week.

Most interesting for contemplation. An old man and woman. She with a scooter walker. On it was a folding chair. Then were very slowly walking from the parking lot. I think I passed them 3 times; until the forth time, they had stopped and put the chair for him at the boardwalk. She was sitting on the scooter walker. It was a nice sunny place with a nice view. It brought to mind that essential quality of the life force which is present in some humans, causing them to bother to creep out to that location and sit down.

I ended up with 20.6 miles in 5 hours.

Then I came home to shower and eat. I lay on the bed resting and reading for a short while. But, felt fine to go run an errand, eat again and then walk on the treadmill another 90 minutes.

Why do I bother with all this exercise? I\’m training my mind to keep going.

What is unfortunate is I need to find time to wash my car; perhaps on Wednesday when it is supposed to be warm.

Thanksgiving Day 2

I slept late today since I didn\’t set an alarm. A little tougher to work in so many hours of workout if you sleep through a couple of hour of it. Then before going running, I decided to take care of a small administrative matter for work. Then, not knowing how long I wanted to run, I had to mix up drinks and fill bottles before being ready. So pretty late getting to the park.

But wow, what a fantastic day. Totally sunny breezy and not that hot. Well, 80F is not that hot for Texas. I got in 4 hours / 17.4 miles.

My Course in Miracles lesson was: \”This day belongs to God. It is my gift to Him.\” I had my mind tuned to this lesson during most of my run.

I had to stop because of time and running out of drinks and because the beans in the crock pot at home needed to be turned off. I make beans every Sunday in the crock pot. I love a bowl of fresh beans.

After a brief rest, I went to an AA meeting. This didn\’t turn out that well. A lady was there with her baby. And the activities around playing with the baby got too distracting for me to pay attention to the speakers. So I moved to the other side of the room. I suppose this upset the mother. So she packed up and left. I\’m sorry she did that just because I didn\’t want to watch her baby so I moved. Oh well.

Now of course, it is time for me to manage my mind. This is now a Course in Miracles moment. Do I listen to my brain yell at me about how guilty I am or do I give this to Jesus and look beyond to the heart of Christ. I glanced at tomorrow\’s Lesson: \”Today I will judge nothing that occurs.\” Perfect for right now.

The TED radio hour was on quiet. A guy on there didn\’t speak for 17 years. And he walked around the world. He did communicate with signs. Not speaking is not the same as silence.

My ego yells at me and at the world almost all the time; unless I\’m engaged deeply in my work, reading a good book, or actively managing my thoughts including silencing them. Tomorrow\’s lesson is perfect for talking back to my brain and stopping it\’s yelling.

At least half of my spiritual practice is related to dealing with the yelling mind.

This evening, I did another elliptical workout and a free weight workout.

Just a little over 5 hours today. What am I doing? Well, to complete any of my upcoming endurance events, it is enough to walk jog 20 or so miles and then walk for another 10 or 20 miles. So, having one long walk jog in the morning and following that with cross training in the afternoon fills the bill without undue pounding on the legs. I feel energized at the end of the day instead of exhausted.

My goal tomorrow is merely to get out of bed at the alarm. After that, something will happen and there will be time.

Thanksgiving Day 1

I have 9 days off work. I don\’t have any plans exactly. That is, I am not driving to any races. I don\’t celebrate holidays so no TG gathering. In fact, Thanksgiving is almost the mother of all worst cases for a vegetarian. Billions of turkeys slaughtered so Americans can overeat one more day. Drink to much and fight with eachother. Then take naps in front of the TV where a football game is on.

No thanks. I\’ll stay alone.

I\’ve been reading some books on the environment and tribal outlook that Jesus must have been born and raised in. And about how Paul most certainly had a brand of Christianity very different than Jesus. The book I\’ve been reading most recently is well written. But I realized this morning that I don\’t need any more information on that topic. I put it aside and wondered what I should do.

The idea of Plotinus came into my mind. I hadn\’t finished the Enneads. I had been much edified by Plotinus philosophy. So I got the book out and started where I left off.

Plotinus Ennead 5.9.7: \”Knowledge in the reasoning soul is on the one side concerned with objects of sense, though indeed this can scarcely be called knowledge and is better indicated as opinion or surface-knowing; it is of later origin than the objects since it is a reflection from them: but on the other hand there is the knowledge handling the intellectual objects and this is the authentic knowledge; it enters the reasoning soul from the Intellectual-Principle and has no dealing with anything in sense. Being true knowledge it actually is everything of which it takes cognisance; it carries as its own content the intellectual act and the intellectual object since it carries the Intellectual-Principle which actually is the primals and is always self-present and is in its nature an Act, never by any want forced to seek, never acquiring or traversing the remote- for all such experience belongs to soul- but always self-gathered, the very Being of the collective total, not an extern creating things by the act of knowing them.

Not by its thinking God does God come to be; not by its thinking Movement does Movement arise. Hence it is an error to call the Ideas intellections in the sense that, upon an intellectual act in this Principle, one such Idea or another is made to exist or exists. No: the object of this intellection must exist before the intellective act [must be the very content not the creation of the Intellectual-Principle]. How else could that Principle come to know it: certainly not [as an external] by luck or by haphazard search.\”

I must have read this 10 times. But something clicked in my mind which I can hardly explain. For a few moments, I had an entire understanding of God and oneness. It was awesome.

So then I went out for a short jog. I hadn\’t planned much today. It was supposed to rain, and I am getting over the sniffles, so I didn\’t think I\’d do much. I had a delightful slow jog of 7 miles for 90 minutes. The morning was very fresh. I loved it.

Coming home, I changed clothes and headed out to an AA meeting. I have 29 years of sobriety but still think AA meetings are fantastic. I am so grateful for my lovely attitude.

When I got home, I started workout number 2. This was an indoor cross training workout. 15 minutes on exercise bike. 15 min on elliptical. 15 min galloping sideways back and forth on the step platform. 15 min on the Nordic Track. 15 min on the Versa Climber. 45 minutes durability. Durability means something like circuit training employing weights and 2 floors. At the bottom of the stairs, I did one arm squat lift bends with a 20 lb kettle bell and pushups. On the second floor I did tricep dips and heel raises. I carried 2 x 10 lb olympic plates each time I went up or down the stairs. I don\’t know how many circuits I did in 45 minutes. I finished off with 15 min of rowing.

I\’m sure those durability workouts, and cross training in general, will be my life saver when it comes to doing a 6 day expedition in Utah next summer.

Then I ate and read a book for a little. Then I walked uphill on the treadmill for another 90 minutes.

Here is what all that looks like according to fitbit:

The chart shows calories instead of steps because rowing and biking don\’t give any steps.5.5 hours today.

Is this training necessary? No, of course not. I just like it.

A Family of Answers

I understand gratitude. I don\’t understand the slaughter of billions of turkeys for gratitude. I don\’t understand the horrible circumstances in which those turkeys are grown; or the tremendous resources that go into their lives.

And even the poor show up at the kitchen and expect a feast.

There are questions which require a family of answers, not just a short sound bite. And I can\’t usually explain all the facets of anything all at once since I don\’t carry all the information in my buffer memory. 

Why are you a vegetarian?
Why do you think the Bible is not true?
Why do you not agree with denominational Christianity or that \”Jesus is the son of God?\”
Why don\’t you vote?
Why don\’t you celebrate holidays?
Why don\’t you watch TV?
Why don\’t you fix your hair? (Really?)
Why are you single?
Why don\’t you develop friendships?
Why don\’t you drink?
What do you mean by \”not participate in society?\”
Why do you spend so much time alone?
….the list goes on….

I am in a strange circumstance: success. I had an out-of-the-blue idea which I \”sold\” to the manager of our plant, who then asked me to sell it to his leadership team. And now, having been adopted, it has gone public in a plant of 800 employees, 1,000 contractors and massive quantities of dangerous substances. The purpose of the idea is employee engagement; which should above all else provide better safety as we work to produce products.

But for me, at this point, it would be usual for me to say something egotistical which over steps my bounds as a low level employee playing with the big boys for once. I end up ashamed of myself though maybe no one else noticed what happened. I want to continue to be guided by Spirit/ intuition/ love; not false ambitions or the getting drive.

The getting drive.
The getting drive.
More for me.
Somebody reward me.
Somebody make me important.
The small self.

Defeat of the small self is a good reason to do endless laps. Such a useless activity, but it draws my mind into endless quiet. Voluntary poverty of ego. Downward mobility of recognition.

Thanksgiving Pre-lude

Meng Hu wrote this, quoting Heidegger: \”…the West, steeped in reason and logic, can only use thought to try to go beyond thought. And this can only be accomplished by the solitary individual.\”

It is the start of the holiday season. Today for instance, there is a Thanksgiving lunch downstairs. I am sitting upstairs in my cubicle eating an apple. I cannot bring myself to participate in holidays. It is a moral or ethical discrepancy. That is, I think the way we do holidays is wrong, so I don\’t do them.

I don\’t believe the Bible is in some way more sacred than many other writings. But on the other hand, I still quote it from time to time to explain myself. For instance, Romans 12.2 says, \”Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.\” This resembles the idea of \”Renunciate\” (Sannyasa). Apart from society, my mind is renewed.

When I threw all my possessions under a Good Will truck and joined a monastery, I renounced the world. I\’ve not ever been able to take the world back completely. I waver in some areas. Other areas, I have a strict conviction: this I will not do.

But it is hard for me to discuss any of this and certainly I\’ve never been able to explain to anyone why I don\’t do some things and when. Usually, when I do talk about myself, people don\’t understand and make up some story that I don\’t agree with. But then I seem incapable of clearly explaining the inner rationale. In some cases, it is just an ongoing process. Also, I find as time goes on, that while my renunciation and spiritual practice are important to me, I have no need to attract anyone else into the ideas. As the years go by since I left the monastery and religion, I find that I am less vehement about my beliefs and so less inclined to discuss them with anyone.

Sometimes I worry that the theme of my life is disappearing. The theme which began at the age of 22 to know God. And then the extension of the theme I found at about age 38 to \”Shamelessly follow Jesus and live a life of prayer.\” Who and what I think of Jesus is not a denominational Christian belief. But the desire to that life is still in me. It seems I went through a string of activities designed to open inner doors to know God more. But since the results are not conscious, I cannot point to them.

It is just that I know they are there.

This brings me back to Thanksgiving. I am taking the week off work. I really really look forward to the solitude. Somehow, listening to silence is what I must do.