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Author: Patrick Durante

Pursuit of Happiness

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, right?  Read that last one again.  It’s an interesting line in the Declaration of Independence.  Thomas Jefferson, the main author of the Declaration of Independence, was influenced by the work of John Locke. Locke wrote about life, liberty, and property as fundamental rights.  It would have been a completely different world if the US was only about pursuing property.

Ultras and part of your inalienable rights

Happiness is a vague term, but I’m glad they used it.  Ask someone to define it and you’ll see what I mean.  Holding happiness is even harder.  I like to relate it to trying to grab a fist full of sand.  You can hold it for a while, but it’s not long before it slips through your fingers.  It’s a perpetual moving target, especially with the challenges of adulthood/aging.  In the Declaration of Independence, we were only guaranteed the pursuit, not actual happiness.  The thing is that you get to decide what to pursue.

What it feels like trying to hold happiness

Our lives can revolve around anything we deem important, the choice is yours.  Nobody will stop you if you have the time or no other commitments.  Things that seem like a waste of time to you could bring others incredible joy and happiness.  You have to be careful where you put your time.  Some choices will bring judgment from others because they can’t relate.  Physical fitness is a fine thing to sink your time into.  I’ve gone deep on running, and most commend you for your accomplishments.  We all have addictions to some degree, it’s just some might be more visible than others.

Freshly bottled happiness after creation.

There are so many choices for your “Pursuit of Happiness”.  How do you know if you picked the right one for you?  One thing you could use to measure it is how long the feeling lasts. I called it the “shelf life of happiness”.  How long after the activity does the feeling begin to fade?  Some pursuits always make me smile when I think about them. 

  • Highest shelf life experiences
    • Difficult challenges
    • Experiences with friends and family
    • Creating art and media
    • Travel
    • Volunteering
    • Teaching

  • Lowest shelf life experiences
    • Consuming media (social, video games, TV, etc.)
    • Impulse purchases
    • Mindless Scrolling
    • Gambling

The high shelf-life memories are burned into my mind and replay often.  The ones I can’t seem to replay are things where I consumed media, be it social, or TV.  The little slices of happiness are short-lived and fade quickly.  We get into this loop of what feels good and makes us happy, so we do more of it.  Those difficult challenges shared with friends and family are the ones that bond people together and go well past the expiration date.  If I start a day with a hard run or workout, happiness can last most of the day.  It makes the other events of the day, even if they are stressful, easier than they should be because the happiness from that activity is still strong inside me.  

Happy memories aging in a jar.

Memories fade, no matter how well we try to preserve them.  Believe me, as someone who’s worn a camera on his head for 100 miles.  Even after a big race, or vacation with friends and family, the photos and videos won’t stop happiness from fading. The days after seem to be the worst.  They are followed by a struggle to set your targets for your next pursuit.  Holding happiness seems impossible because you are trying to lock your state of mind.  We adapt and return to our base level of happiness after coming down from a high.

Memories past the “best by” date on the jar.

Awards, medals, or buckles that sit on a shelf may not seem like they are worth much.  They are worth what they represent.  It is a symbol of an experience, a struggle to do something great while you can.  It’s that old cliche about “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”  Sadly, everything has a shelf life.  Everything spoils at some point.  The best you get is a moment in time. I’m bottling and putting those little moments in jars with friends and family even if they spoil.  The nice house, fancy car, and amazing job mean nothing when you’re 90 years young. The last thing you’ll own is your mind and a handful of memories nobody can take from you.  Good luck with that pursuit in whatever you choose!  

What happy memories last the longest in your mind? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed please share it with someone you think might enjoy it! Thanks for reading!

Supporting or Supported?

I was thinking about races, ultras of course, and I found out why they appeal to some.  While editing my last video, Rabid Raccoon I noticed I filmed a lot of aid stations.  I love capturing interactions with people.  Aid station workers are a different breed, they are in the “supporting” role all day.  Supporting, odds are, people they don’t know.  They will feed you, fill your bottles, and maybe even fix your feet.   All of this so you can complete YOUR race.  It’s comical we pay to do this, but I see why.  You spend a DAY being pampered and in the spotlight.  You are “supported” for an entire day.  It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of subpar food, I mean don’t get me wrong, aid station food is amazing, but it’s a quick and easy fare.  It was the attention I got that I noticed in the video.  Each aid station went all out as they put all effort into meeting your needs. 

Aid station workers are an amazing group of people

Are ultrarunners just seeking attention?  Am I just seeking attention?  If you are reading this, on a blog I own and post my random thoughts, the answer is yes.  Putting that topic aside, that has to be part of the draw to racing.  Racing puts the spotlight on you.  If you have kids, work a demanding job, or have lots of stress, it can be an escape to get the attention you so desperately seek.  Running by the cheering crowds you feel as though they’re all there for you.  You are the star, you get the attention and the fame, and MAYBE you go home with the medal! 

Sometimes there are too many choices at an aid station.

I used to race constantly, initially part of me chasing that spotlight.  I felt as though I had no talent and found something I was good at.  I raced a lot and won a lot and it was addictive.  Kids and a job came, priorities shifted, and I enjoyed being out there longer.  The more time with your thoughts.  The more time you suffer.  I enjoyed that and the solitude of running.  It’s bizarre, that it went from racing surrounded by crowds to racing alone in the woods with just your thoughts.  Running for myself has changed so much, I’ve changed, and that’s what this sport does.  Running doesn’t change, but you change along the ride.  You shift from being supported by crowds and fans, to being supported by a select few.  You have to think differently as time passes.  It’s ever-evolving much like life.  Ultras and life are messy, difficult, challenging experiences that demand you to change as the race goes on.  What worked in the beginning in the race of life, doesn’t work as well in the later stages.  The game changed just as you think you’ve figured it out.

Artificial Intelligence thinks you need pens at an aid station.

You shift as we age from being supported to supporting others.  I realized you can’t always take without giving back, you have to spend time supporting.  There’s a balance that must be maintained for sanity, friendships, and relationships to stay afloat.  Taking time to help others, as much as you have been helped.  As my running career enters its next stage I’m just happy to be out on the trails.  I never take for granted all those who helped me get to this point in life, my family, friends, and all those races.  I am just trying to figure out what the next chapter will look like.  Maybe it’s helping others find meaning through movement.  I feel this strain to give back.  How can I give back?  That’s what I have been asking myself.  I am slowly figuring it out and seeing what part to play in the running community.  It just takes a lot of time, and I’m OK with that.  I used to think change happened fast, but I was wrong.  It’s slow.  REALLY slow, if not years to get to where you need to be.  You just have to take that first step!  

Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed it let me know how running has changed for you over the years, or how it has stayed the same.  There’s no right or wrong answer.