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The essays in this book reveal the most rapturous moments of running, and they offer clear glimpses of our inner lives. We escape from the tedium of daily existence with the physical exuberance of a good run, and sometimes that simple act is lofted up into something extraordinary. Some people find that the runners high confirms or augments their belief in God, and that the high is a moment of communion. For some it is simply an enjoyable, if weird, pleasure; or a blissful, timeless meditation. Others find that the sublime joy of the runners high is a confirmation of something elsea broader spiritual force, or unknown powers within humanity.
As with the parable of the three blind men describing the elephant, I believe that all the essayists here are describing one huge magnificent thing. Each is telling us a distinct truth about it. And what they are describing is not just the anatomy of these uplifted moments, but also something about us all. Humanitys essential physical naturethe animal in us, all blood and lungs and sinewwhen used and exercised thoroughly, sometimes leads to a hidden ethereal part of ourselves. We discover that we are built for illumination and ecstasy, but the gift goes mostly unused; it is hardwired in us, just as we have legs to run, but not all humans run.
Reading these essays we begin to sense the nature of this mysterious phenomenon. Given the diversity of voices here, and their wondrous panoply of experiences, I think they may have covered nearly the whole damn elephant.