Saturday, January 15, 2005

Bob Dylan and the age of steam

Chronicles is not a chronological account of Bob Dylan; instead it is a number of snapshots of various points of his life. Two of the most vivid are his early years in New York, just before he became famous and the making 'Oh Mercy'. The juxtaposition clearly shows the affects of age. When young there was a suppleness and fecundity - he would learn long poems just for the mental training and he would make up songs on the spot. He worked hard at his craft but there was a sense that it was easy. By the time he recorded 'Oh Mercy' he had virtually given up song writing, feeling that that time had passed, and the story is one of struggle. He was unsure about the melodies and feel and the songs were not coming to life. Things could only be tackled piece by piece, with no sense that he could just dash off something new if some bit did not work.

I was right alongside him reading that, fully associating with the effects of age - where everything has to be worked on. You can remember easy spontaneity but it is not the way you now function.

So with running. I know I no longer have the flexibility and recovery I once had and have to make adjustments – rarely running two consecutive days, alternating hard and easy sessions. So much is standard but the more important changes are with my mental images, particularly those related to speed. I now love the slow steady run. I feel connected to the ground and it feels safe. I do not have the desire to dash about and gambol. Speed no longer feels like a quick touch on the accelerator, instead the poor fireman has to shovel more coal into the boiler to raise the steam pressure.

In a strange way I accept and even rejoice in it. If I am a steam engine then I have to approach the restoration project with the enthusiasm of a Fred Dibner. The aim is still to be the best I can not the best there is.

Reason No. 3 for running: It makes you accept your age but still gives you the chance to work on it.

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