The Dream is to be Healthy and Balanced so that I can Run

Pumori, Khumbu, Nepal

“The first step of the dream-change process…is to define what we want, to make certain that it is a dream, not a fantasy… An essential next step is to give the dream energy. Constantly bring your dream out into the light of day. Think about it, meditate and journey on it. Talk about it with everyone you meet. Shout it out. Share it with the Earth, the sky, the clouds, the sun and moon, and with all the plants, animals, and minerals of the Earth. Give it voice and song!” – the shaman Manco, from The World is as You Dream It, by John Perkins
“The energy created by our dreaming is like air. It travels everywhere. Your ability to use this energy is limited only by your dream of its power. Your faith. Our dreams can affect everyone and everything else–if we energize them with enough power.” – the shaman Manco 

There was a specific moment which occurred this past year while trekking in Nepal when I truly came to realize what running means to me. My brother Paulo and I walked downhill in the morning sun along the main trail through the Khumbu region, the trail leading away from Everest Base Camp, which we had left that morning. As we strolled along we talked–musing, dreaming, contemplating–as we usually did. We were essentially ‘homeward bound’ as we were now headed out of the mountains on our final trek of the long three-month trip, so our thoughts naturally journeyed forward to what we would do next and where we were going. Within a few short weeks we would split and continue on following our own individual paths. Both of us intended to keep on traveling for many months. I had an entire itinerary planned for the next many months: the beaches of Thailand, then the northern mountains, on to the Indian Himalaya, Sri Lanka, then New Zealand… It was a dream trip that anyone would be envious of, but instead of looking forward to all the amazing sights and places I would see, I was instead pre-occupied with a dream of heading home and spending the summer in the mountains of Colorado, simply running.

Paulo walking down the trail where this story takes place, between the towns of Gorak Shep and Chhukung in the Khumbu

It didn’t make much sense, and I voiced my confusion to my brother in what I thought was a rhetorical question. “Why can I only think about running when I have so many amazing travels to partake in?”

By his immediate and pointed response, it seemed that he knew exactly why: “You need running to be who you are.”

The Khumbu Glacier

I realized almost instantly that he was right. More importantly, there was nothing to be confused about, or to fight against, that I should simply give in and enjoy what I wanted to do. Ever since I began running a few years ago and it replaced climbing in my life, which used to fulfill pretty much the exact same function, it is absolutely true that to be the truest, highest, happiest form of myself I need to run. I don’t need to literally be doing it all the time, but just regularly enough that I feel worthwhile, like I am making progress towards my goals. I need running to give me the highest and furthest goals to aim for which seem to give me greater purpose. I need running to serve as my teacher and my classroom, where I am presented with challenges that must be overcome, and then have the experience of learning the necessary lessons while practicing my craft. While I hate being labeled as “a runner,” as if that is somehow the only important or noteworthy thing I do, I never-the-less cannot deny that it is intrinsically who I am. Running is what I center my Dreams around…

We all need something to center our Dreams around. For most of us it probably changes many times in our lives. For Paulo, right now, his Dreams are centered around making his own large scale artwork. His Dreams used to be centered around making music, which he still does, but over time they have morphed, and will continue to do so, or so I suspect. It seems to me that anything can serve as an individual’s center to their Dream. For many it is simple daily passions. Many people’s Dreams seem to revolve around their children. The luckiest, in our society anyway, are the ones whose Dream is their job. I have to admit I am a bit envious of these folk. Many people simply Dream of the day when they can sit and just be in peace, as if peace were not possible today…

Dreams flutter in the Wind

I recently finished reading a book called “The World is as You Dream It,” by John Perkins. It is a firsthand account of a man who came to feel incredible guilt about spending the majority of his life working to “develop” the third world while working for the World Bank. Somehow he came in contact with a number of Amazonian shamans living in Ecuador and Peru, who taught him that by developing their world after the Dream of our industrialized country, he was denying those countries and cultures the ability to live their own Dreams. Most importantly, the shamans made Perkins realize that the Dream of our country is not a Dream at all, it is pure fantasy. It is totally out of balance. They taught him and made him see that the Dream of us North Americans is unsustainable, it is unhealthy, and it does not make us happier, while it disrespects other countries, other cultures, and most importantly the unity of the whole, of Pachamama, of Mother Earth. Sadly, it seems that even more important to us than living our Dream is exporting it to everyone else on Earth. Perkins became a student of these shamans, who taught him how to change his own Dream, and then together they set to work guiding important and powerful Americans to the shamans in the Amazon, with the idea that they could learn how to change the cultural Dream of the United States.

We create our own reality. We Dream it into existence…

The Earth breathing the clouds in and out

Despite my other travel plans, many of which I had already invested money in, I continued to energize my Dream of running in the mountains of Colorado. I did so unwittingly, perhaps not completely in tune with my own power. I told everyone I encountered about it, I thought about it daily, and eventually it became consuming enough that I took action. I bailed on my travels, bought plane tickets back to the United States, bought a car, and within six weeks of that day walking through the Khumbu, I had moved to Silverton, high in the mountains of Colorado, a runner’s mecca, and one of the most fantastically beautiful towns in this country. I dove headlong into my Dream, and ran through the mountains every day.

But the Dream did not last very long. Within a few weeks of blissfully charging around mountains everyday I was injured. Mysterious pains and sorenesses cropped up in my feet and lower legs and refused to go away. Not willing to give up the Dream I ignored the signs and kept on running, doing more damage to my body. In frustration I denied that there was a problem. I ignored the imbalance which my Dream had brought. But eventually I had no choice but to heed the signs that my body was giving me, the pain was too great, and I was forced to take a break from running for much of the winter in order to let me legs heal.

The amazing Ama Dablam from Chhukung Ri, Khumbu

Taking a couple month break gave me plenty of time to try to understand what went wrong. I came to understand what I thought were many of the causes of my leg injuries–both mental and physical. The way that I perceived things was out of balance with the world surrounding me. Through the introspection I was forced, thankfully, to partake in, I came to understand that I needed to modify my Dream. My Dream cannot be to partake in one single thing to exclusion, ignoring all else in the process, because that is a fantasy. Rather, my new Dream is to find that necessary balance and health which will allow me to partake in running as much as I desire.

Sometimes all that is needed is a change in attitude and perspective for things to balance back out. When something you love is taken away, you suffer in its absence, and gain an appreciation for how much that thing means to you. As I began running again about a month ago, taking simple slow jogs to test the legs, I felt unbelievable gratitude to be able to do just that. I had missed it even more than I had thought, and my new-found appreciation allowed me to enjoy running simply for the sake of being able to do it. I felt ready and willing to do whatever it took to find the balance which would lead to more healthy running, and the new Dream over-ruled any of my other glorious aspirations.

So, as I embark again upon a many-months long trip to Nepal and beyond, I think about the words of the shaman Manco, and I choose to share with the world my Dream, so that all the energy of the collective consciousness can help me to fulfill it:

The Dream is to be Healthy and Balanced so that I can Run!


Running vision quest – Tonto Trail, Grand Canyon