Yesterday I so wanted to run for 4-5 hrs but something just wasn't right. No, I wasn't too quick to start with. The weather was actually pretty good. It just didn't feel right. I stopped twice during a 13.5 km run. Once at North Block and then under a tree on Rajpath. I soon realised that it was the same tree under which I had taken refuge almost three years ago (July 2013) during another long run. 

I had blogged about my learnings from that summer day three years ago. Here it goes...

Two Sundays ago I had my best runs in a long time. It was tough but with immense amount of learnings about life, both from nature and from running itself. I had planned for an ‘eazy-peazy’ 5 hrs run. It was going to be my longest run in the last few months.

The day before the run, I had been invited to INDABA , a World Institute for Action Learning (WIAL) leadership workshop, by my patients, Ron and Penny. I was introduced to something very basic but very novel, at the same time. I was made to realize that ‘I didn’t know what I didn’t know.’ Which is the case with most of us.

The next day, I was on a cruise control till about 3 hours, very easily running at the speeds of 13 km per hour. Including breaks every hour for 7-10 minutes, I had covered 30 odd kms in the first 3 hours. Just around then, I hit Rajpath (India Gate road) and the sun was happily shining in all its glory. The temperatures were in the vicinity of late 30°C, but as Accuweather, a weather forecast website, later showed, it felt like 40°C, if not more. Later, I also got to know that one of my running buddies had experienced heat stroke at the same time. Luckily he had company and was closer to his car, so returned back safely.

But it wasn’t the sun that was bothering me. I wasn’t even tired. No, I didn’t even have any aches or pains in any body parts. But I felt like stopping. Very unlike me. For a bit, it puzzled me what was going on. I then realized that I was very sleepy. Of late, I had been trying to write a bit too much and various deadlines had been killing me. I hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours for three nights in a row. I was simply sleepy. Probably a great practice for a couple of long runs I am training for.

Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Something suddenly dawned on me. Now, normally, as a kid, when we would draw a tree, most of us would draw a thick brown trunk and top part being green, as shown above. But then, thats what we see when we look at a tree from a distance. Thats what I always saw all these trees lining up this and other roads where I would run. I had never stopped and paid attention to the obvious.

Rather than continuing running, I headed towards one of the trees that line up both sides of Rajpath. I lied down on a bench under the tree, yet unaware of how it was going to change my outlook to life for good. It felt awesome. Just a temperature difference of 3-4°degrees, made it feel awesome. Just that little breeze felt like heaven, not that I have visited it yet.

Also, the tree wasn't trying to change the world, either by being an evangelist or by contradicting everyone around it. The main road existed right next to it on which a lot of traffic plied daily, causing immense pollution. It was happy providing shade to anyone who wanted it.  It was also negating some amount of carbon-dioxide being released by the vehicles.

While lying down, I noticed another amazing thing that resonated well with me, both immediately and in life. There was an eagle, high above, just floating, sailing through, without making any effort to fly any quicker. It possibly could do that all day, without tiring one bit. It did dart away once, and was back up in a minute, possibly it had sighted a prey. When there was no need, it was happy being the way it was, i.e. very well in sync with its surroundings. Not in a race with everything else around it all the time.

Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

This tree was probably 50-60 years old, with a very big and strong trunk with solid foundation. The roots would definitely be far deeper than the branches themselves. It just hadn’t happened overnight. It had taken its sweet time to master one thing, and one thing alone. It then started spreading through a few branches, which over time, grew in numbers and size. The branches had spread in all directions. It simply wasn’t a tree shaped like an umbrella. Each branch had loads of leaves, which were then providing me with the shade on this hot sunny Sunday. It really wasn’t the big thick solid trunk that directly provided the shade. The trunk actually provided no shade at all.

In 15 odd minutes, when I got up and started running again, I only ran under the shade of the line of trees for a while. It felt brilliant. I appreciated what amazing work that one tree had done. That one tree had also spread the good work / word through the birds, who spread the fruits and seeds to other places (these were planted that way, but it just makes my story more romantic), both close by and far away. Now there were trees all over. All courtesy one selfless patient tree.

Soon enough, on the way, I saw a guy cutting branches of some other big mature tree. He was cutting the branches that had either gone too low or had gone dry. The idea was to help the tree to grow better by stopping branches that had started growing in wayward directions. 

All this was simply amazing for me. For a while now, I have been appalled by the 'illness and sickness' industry. I have taken it head on in international conferences, in media and in my own medical practice. I have been  wanting to change the world, that too instantly.

WIAL INDABA leadeship gang

Just the day before at WIAL, the group had discussed my problem. I was fortunate to have leaders from different industries, who were trying to understand my problem. At the end of the session, I understood that my problem itself was the problem. On top of that, I was looking for instant gratification.

The tree and the eagle had taught me to slow down and not to be too greedy. I had to start by going back to the basics, baby steps, one step at a time. I definitely needed to stop having the conflict within. 

In this rat race we miss out on a lot of very obvious things. At times, we simply need to appreciate and learn from nature around us. It'll be happy to teach us, only if we have the time and want to learn.

As a matter of fact, can we really change anything? Stop being so full of yourself. The correct answer is NO. It's good enough if we can manage to change ourselves. 

Keep miling and smiling.