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i love running in the rain

There’s something about running in the rain. You think it’s the last thing on earth you want to do. And then you get out there and it’s brilliant… especially in spring.

I’ve started reading – well listening to – a book recommended to me recently by a colleague: Sapiens – A brief history of humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari  and it’s really struck a chord (I do like to harp back to the cavemen, after all). So many things make more sense with this book as a frame of reference: our history before we had history… who we were hundreds of thousands of years ago. As he explains, biology comes before history. 

In one of the chapters I’ve just listened to, he talks about how we’ve been more animal than (our currently perceived fiction that we are) human. Which explains our magnetic pull to nature and why being outside cheers us up. And it’s made me realise that the reason I love running, is maybe more about the opportunity to be outside, than even the endorphin-hit.

When I was at my sister’s in Jura recently (a truly incredible, remote, still surprising place; if you’ve never been there you should go) and really enjoyed taking the dog for a walk. Like, really enjoyed it. Like, I would have gone without the dog (even though she was a great walking partner). Just being outside, with just the sky above me, the Paps ahead of me and stony worn down tracks beneath me was soothing. You’re so exposed to everything there – the elements, the bracken, the deer staring at you like it knows you’re the outnumbered one in these parts – all of it so starkly…. as it should be: unspoilt and wildly beautiful.

So – the point is – if I couldn’t run, I would walk. Because being outside once a day keeps you sane (just like an apple a day keeps the Doctor away). It’s so primal: we are animals. We need to be in touch with nature.

But then, everything about our lives and our world (even the offices so many of us work in) seems to be catapulting us in exactly the opposite direction. On the BBC Global News Podcast yesterday, they were talking transhumanism (from 23 mins 45 secs in): the belief that one day humans will fuse with machines and we could potentially end up with a “superior human race”. My. God.

And then I wonder, what makes a being “superior”?  Skills? Ability? Speed?

What about contentedness?

What about that wonderful, grounding  feeling you get, then you’re running in the rain towards a tree who’s leaves are swelling into full-green-spectrum, next to its rain-streaked sunset-hued maple tree?

The surprise that nudges you when you notice dew being blown across the wavey tops of a crop-field: a farmer’s emerald sea?

The slightly giddy joy you get, when you spot the bright yellow centre of a new forget-me-not in the verge, the confetti explosion of pink and white cherry tree blossom or the shy purple beauty of the season’s first bluebells?

The awe of being present in a world which swells in beauty in the spring rain to saturate your eyeballs with colour?

Would a humachine “get” that? Or would we be one giant step too far away from the animal that we are?

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