Deep Thoughts While Running

I couldn’t write the title for today’s blog without thinking of Jack Handy.

One thing that motivated me to run was to get ideas for writing, which “The Oatmeal” professed he gets while running. Of course, he (The Oatmeal, aka Matthew Inman) is a very talented artist and humorous comic strip writer, and I, if I write anything, write more serious things about our environment. But I think I have a great sense of humor; it is part of my every day life and I laugh all the time. I just don’t write that way, except for sometimes accidentally.

I asked my husband if he got “deep thoughts” while he ran. He said not really. He thinks of things like woodworking projects. In his head he will think of all the parts he needs for a project, and sort of create it in his mind before physically working on it.

I think a lot all the time. I don’t know if my running thoughts are truly deep thoughts or just random thoughts that make as much sense as a dream. Yesterday, for instance, I did my short run, and these were my thoughts:

1. I thought of my dad, who died five years ago. I thought he might be proud of me for running. It occurred to me that I am almost the age he was when he found out he had Parkinsons. His doctors always said that he had the disease for way longer than average, so he was still quite young relatively when found out that he had Parkinsons.

2. Was Dad up there looking down? Or had he absorbed into my immediate universe and could he see me? I have no idea of what happens when you die, but would like to think that quantum physics would someday discover it is possible that once your physical body ends, there is enough sentient energy (is there such a thing?) that exists and sticks around. If none of that is possible, then memory alone keeps people alive, and sometimes it is overwhelming.

3. What would Dad think about me running? The girl who pretty much stopped running when young due to tachychardia? What would he think about all this climate disruption awareness I’ve been doing for literature and the arts? Would he have ever foreseen his little stubborn, tomboy, independent bookworm doing these things? Dad was the type of father who always believed in his children, even when we messed up. He was proud of us and told us this often. He reinforced positive behavior, and was stony at the negative–when we became adults he hardly voiced an opinion unless solicited. I know he’d be proud. That was his way. In a day and age when it’s hard to find someone, anyone, to really believe or get or love what you do, his support would be ideal.

So, I ran on, this time back and forth down a long street near where I live. The day had started out cloudy, but during the last half of my run grew partially sunny and humid. On one part of this long sidewalk was a slug that was black and probably dead, but still slimy looking. The thing was in the middle of the sidewalk. I mentally noted not to step on it, but probably did at one point when my “deep thoughts” distracted me.

As I ran on, I became more focused on the actual sweat, which glistened like sheen on my skin. I didn’t want to let go of comforting possibilities about Dad, and whether he could actually be there or not, but my thoughts drifted.

I then began thinking of the possibility that we were all part of an advanced simulation computer game that our descendents had crafted. I have thought of this often, this theory that we really were created, not by a god but by spergy nerds in the future with exponentially far greater computers that we have today–so powerful that they could re-create their ancestors in a deep immersive environment and kind of see what we were like. That would mean our whole idea of the universe is purely illusion. What if we were part of a futuristic video game–and what would happen at the moment of singularity? What if our descendents were getting back at us and making us relive the world whereupon we first began settled agriculture–which according to Daniel Quinn and others was the first time that humans began to destroy the earth?

With my feet pounding the pavement (and possibly an ugly slug), these thoughts ran across my head–it’s something I’d love to write a novel about, and the situation has already been played out, for example in the sci-fi sitcom “The Red Dwarf”, The Matrix, and other films/books. Only, I’m not sure I have the technical knowledge to do that kind of writing.

If you’ve ever played any kind of simulated video game, well, like The Sims or Sim City, you’ll know that there is already capability of these immersive games. I played The Sims for a while, not so much to micro-manage their every day lives but to design homes. When trying to control the characters’ lives, I realized that it was too hard to keep them sufficiently fed, happy, non-thirsty, educated, well-rested, and so on. I found that with this type of game, you could just stop telling them what to do, and the characters would go on about their daily business–though without your manipulative input, they often did not wake up in time for work, peed in the wrong place, started fires when cooking, became unhappy, and so on. Sometimes they even became romantic with someone other than their partner, and they might not take good enough care of a baby Sim, in which case Child Welfare would come along and take the baby away.

So I tended to stay in build mode rather than play mode, and designed houses–from great big beach type houses with thatched roofs to Gothic mansions of steel. When I did go to play mode–and how many of us haven’t done this–I played tricks on the Sims, like making them look through the telescope for a long time, until the aliens came to visit?

When I say deep thoughts when running, I mean it. Somehow, in the time I ran, I thought of all of this: of Dad, of quantum physics, of singularity, of the possibility of all of us being part of a terrible creation in the minds of future gamers who built us in a simulated environment as part of a grand experiment. I guess that running can be a good writing (thinking of plots) exercise!