I am not a runner

I’m lately fascinated by the distinction between when I’m using an activity as a part of my identity (“I am a runner”) versus pointing out that I do an activity (“I run”). This sort of nit matters to me, because the nature of self-identity matters to me. If I am a runner, but then for whatever reason I don’t run… what then am I? What fascinates me isn’t the specific verbs, but rather: What actually am I? This locks me up thinking for long periods. I write. I run. I climb. I jump. Yes, but, what am I?

I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature.

~ Haruki Murakami from, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I enjoyed reading Murakami’s essays. Particularly because I run poorly, I wanted to know what he talks about when he talks about running. In fact, he does talk a great deal about literally running, in addition to the larger perspectives on his life for which everyone loves the book.

But one thing is for sure: I run. But I am not a runner.