Friday, February 4, 2011

The Pack

When I read "Born To Run", I was struck by what I saw as the author's call to community.  We all, as Americans, like to think of ourselves as independent, autonomous beings. But, we are ALL here only because of the love and compassion of others. We all come into this world naked and helpless, but our connection with others carry us through.
So here's what Coach Vigil was trying to figure out: was Zatopek a great man who happened to run, or a great man because he ran? Vigil couldn't quite put his finger on it, but his gut kept telling him that there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding. Sex and speed - haven't they been symbiotic for most of our existence, as intertwined as the strands of our DNA? We wouldn't be alive without love; we wouldn't have survived without running; maybe we should be surprised that getting better at one could make you better at the other. (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen p. 98)

Humans are among the most communal and cooperative of all primates; our sole defense in a fang-filled world was our solidarity, and there's no reason to think we suddenly disbanded during our most crucial challenge, the hunt for food. I remembered what the Seri Indians told Scott Carrier after the sun had set on their persistence-hunting days. "It was better before," a Seri elder lamented. "We did everything as a family. The  whole community was a family. We shared everything and cooperated, but now there's a lot of arguing and bickering, everyman for himself." (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen p. 242)
Perhaps the secret to not only social fitness, but also athletic success, is compassion and community. 


Jason Ross said...


Just wanted to say I've followed your blog for about a year. I really enjoy it. I came for the squat videos, and stayed because I like your outlook on many diff. things.


Boris said...

Thank you very much Jason. I'm planning on having another squat video out soon btw, but I'm glad that people like the posts about things not related to squatting as well (as most posts are).