The birthday run
Life in review — one lap at a time
By Christopher Nyerges 07/30/2009
(We felt this Feb. 19 column by Christopher so closely fit with this week’s anniversary theme that we decided to run it again. — Editor.)
Acustom on my birthday, Jan. 11, is to review each year of my life with each lap that I run. I literally run through my life, looking back at where I started, where I’ve been and what’s happened in between.
This year’s run was particularly emotional; 2008 had been a year of pain — losing my wife of 22 years in early December, and before that, on Easter Sunday, my dog of 17 years. I focused especially hard as I ran this year’s birthday run, trying to re-live my life, trying to really feel again what I had felt back then.
My first awareness as a baby was that something was very wrong, that I came from some very sacred place and now I was back in a human body on this dark planet. I cried uncontrollably as I ran, just as I did in my first few years of incoherence and confusion. But I slowly learned the ways of man — deceit, double-talk, lies, beguilement.
I’d forgotten that I once knew that I “descended” into humanness, and then I worked to learn how to “fit in.” With each lap, I tried to just feel it and find the lessons that I still needed to learn.
I remember visiting my grandfather in Ohio and how he yelled at my mother for some petty thing. I was only a child, but I never forgot that puzzling scene. I somehow thought that getting older meant that people grew wiser, more respectful, more controlled — but this was merely one experience that taught me that was not so.
I remembered stealing cigarettes and other things at local stores as a teen and eventually getting involved in marijuana for a short while. Both my parents were working and I looked up to the neighborhood “bad boys” who smoked and swore and stole things. If not for getting caught and exposed, I might have stayed on that path of crime.
Fortunately, I went through some sort of internal renaissance at 14 and began martial arts classes, learning music and studying Buddhism and philosophy. I saw that I knew next to nothing. Yet I still looked positively to the future. Now, at age 54, I could see as I ran that the past is very much alive in all we do in the present, and the future is already written by what I think and do and feel as I live each moment. I found that I could do my birthday run with mental eyes wide open, facing all my fears and perceptions of inadequacy.
In high school, I entered into the world of ideas and the vast potential good that was available if people — if I — lived ecologically smart lives, though I was too naive at that time to see the overwhelming influence that the pursuit of money has on us.
I constantly felt the frustration of never really learning anything in school, but I learned to play the game. I didn’t learn how to think, nor did I receive any moral rudder while in school. I simply learned about the tools I needed to go forward.
As I ran, I reviewed my travels — always seeking but rarely finding.
I reviewed my search for “real community” and my various successes.
I felt so happy thinking back to the time my wife Dolores and I drove to Oklahoma for the 150th commemoration of the Trail of Tears, and Dolores spoke to the gathered audience with a Shining Bear reading. The whole trip was a magical dream.
Amazingly, I came to the realization that I wasted a large portion of my life in the pointless pursuit of sex. I was too dumb most of the time, too driven by my own animal nature, to know the difference between love and sex. As I ran I could see that dark side of sex throughout my life, something that I have only slowly been able to deal with.
In the last 10 years, I felt both uplifted by my work and depressed by my own deficiencies. My separation from Dolores was a source of great sadness, later replaced by the inner enlightened joy of two people, respecting each other, freely coming together for certain goals. We worked together on some of the public gatherings conducted by our nonprofit, many writings and other projects. So when Dolores made her final transition in December, I felt devastated but compelled to review all that was good, all that would take me into the future with the world we created.
So many personal lessons flowed from this year’s run that it would take a book to record them all. I remember thinking that Dolores had created a wonderful life and that I wanted to do the same — and still want that. I also took faith in a quote from Michael Savage: “Work is the only salvation.”
Christopher Nyerges can be reached at ChristopherNyerges.com.