During my competitive cross-country running days it wasn’t uncommon for me to run five miles at 5AM and another ten miles at 10PM, six days a week. I was competitive. I wanted to win races. And I was smart enough to know that if I dedicated myself to extra training, while my opponents were sleeping or socializing, I would be one step ahead of them when we crossed the finish line.
When I first started these early morning and late night runs, the experience was rather brutal. My body didn’t want to cooperate. It ached and cramped up. And I found out that the only way to endure the extra training was to disassociate my mind from my body, putting my mind somewhere else while my body ran.
Over time, I became quite proficient at doing this. I got so good at it, in fact, that I actually looked forward to running. Because when I ran, my mind was clear and at peace with the world – especially when nobody else was around. In the midst of what seemed to be a strenuous workout, my mind was in a soothingly relaxed state… similar to that of a deep meditation.
I don’t compete in races anymore, but I still run almost every day. Even though I no longer have to, I typically still run in the wee hours of the morning or very late at night. And since my friends know that I have a flexible work schedule, most of them think I’m a bit weird for running at such ‘odd’ hours. I’ve tried to explain to them why I do it, and how it soothes my mind. But they can’t relate. So I’m still a weirdo in their eyes.
She Was Right
Last night, I went running on the Pacific Beach boardwalk at 11PM. It was calm and quiet out – just the way I like it. I was about three miles into my run when a peculiar looking woman sitting on the boardwalk’s barrier wall shouted, “Hey, you!” and then waved me down. My first inclination was to just ignore her and continue running. But my curiosity got the best of me. So I stopped.
The woman had long blonde dreadlocks, several piercings in her ears and nose, tattoos on both arms, and a Grateful Dead t-shirt on. She was strumming an acoustic guitar and had a thick, white joint burning in a small ashtray beside her.
She stopped strumming her guitar and began to chuckle as soon as she saw me looking down at the joint. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m legit. I have a medical prescription for it.”
“It’s none of my business,” I quickly replied.
“Anyway,” she continued. “Perhaps you don’t realize this, but it’s pretty late to be out exercising. I’ve seen you out here a few times before, running after midnight.”
“So, what’s your point?” I asked.
“Well thousands of people run on this boardwalk every single day, but you seem to be the only runner I see in the middle of the night. And it strikes me as being kind of weird. So what’s your deal?”
I told her about my love for a quite landscape, and the way in which running soothes my mind. “…like a deep mediation,” I told her.
She smiled, strummed once on her guitar, and took a drag of her joint. “Well then, I’m doing the same thing as you right now,” she replied. “Only in my own way – a way that works for me. Can you dig that?”
I stared at her for a second and then laughed, because I knew she was right. “Yeah, I can dig that,” I said. She winked and started strumming her guitar again. I winked back and started running again.
Some of us run in the middle of the night. Some of us strum acoustic guitars and smoke joints. And others go to church. Or sip expensive wine. Or surf on dangerous waves. Or jump out of perfectly good airplanes. When we try to understand people by personally relating to the things that they do, we usually can’t make any sense of it. Because it’s easier to see weirdness in a sea of normality, than it is to decode the logical methods behind one’s madness.
But when we look just a little deeper, by making a noble effort to understand people by truly listening to why they do the things that they do, they never seem quite as weird. Actually, they begin to seem…
Photo by: Zara
Peter | The Change Blog says
Nice writing as always Marc.
It’s funny how the word “weird” has so many negative connotations. Do I want to be just another drop in a sea of normality? Or do I want be someone who is thinks and acts in unconventional ways?
Personally, I’m happy to be thought of as a little bit weird, and I prefer my friends to be a little bit weird. Life is more interesting that way 😉
Armen Shirvanian says
That’s pretty crazy about running 5 miles in the morning and 10 miles at night 6 days a week.
On the point about how we each have our slightly different zany things that we like to do, they sure are worth taking note of, and maintaining, as giving up the quirks about us is giving up us.
I have some quirks too, and they are my biggest items of enjoyment, as well as biggest advantages.
Chris G says
I used to partake in the same activity as the dreadlocked girl, having a smoke every now and again to unwind, and relax. I guess you could say “To each their own”, but I’ve now come to realise that among the things that people do to find their “inner peace”, one has to be careful not just be escaping from reality. That’s what I was doing when I smoked.
My other passion, which consumes my thoughts when I don’t have more mundane work-related things to think about, is the outdoors. I’m from Ontario, Canada, and am absolutely in love with the vast wilderness that I’ve been lucky enough to have nearby. My inner peace comes from sitting at the edge of a small lake, surrounded by tall stands of white pine, and listening to the wind swish through the needles of the trees. It’s a different sound than farther south where the trees have leaves, and the sound is a busier rustle. It’s almost like the trees are talking to you, telling you that being part of the natural system, respecting and appreciating nature, is the only way to achieve true inner peace.
I too work on disconnecting my mind from my body when I’m doing hard physical exercise. Whether at the gym, or 5km into a 35km hike into the woods, I focus on the beauty, my life, and how things in life can only get better as long as you realise that it’s true, and that you can control it.
Just my two-cents.
Anthony Feint says
man thats a lot of miles you cover each day. I do about 4 (but walking).
I think all of us are weird in our own little ways.
Michael "Mike Zen" Stagg says
Here’s the thing: it seems to me that the only “weird” people are those that attempt to lead cookie cutter lives following one trend after the other in some misguided need to “fit in”.
Personally, I enjoy the staring, giggles and other little things people do when they see me coming. The fascinating thing is that some people have come up to me and started conversations with me.
Some of those same people, after we’ve been talking for a while, admitted to me that they’ve been inspired to be their own person and let go of the robot mentality. For that reason alone I’ll gladly accept the title of weirdo any day.
I just subscribed to your blog over the weekend, and this is the first post I’ve received.
What a wonderful, mindful article. Thank you for sharing! In a world that can be so judgemental, you’ve reminded us to look beyond the superficial, and get to know people and why they do the interesting things that they do.
Happy Running! 🙂
I enjoyed this article up until the “And others go to church” statement. Going to church and surfing, sipping wine, meditating or whatever else people use to clear their minds shouldn’t be in the same category.
Ibrahim Husain says
I’ve felt weird my entire life. But I embrace it. I’ve tried all sorts of things that people consider weird, just because I want to experience everything in life that even seems remotely interesting.
So many people spend their entire lives chasing what others think are interesting/cool that they never fully realize how much better life can be if they chase the experiences that will actually improve their own lives.
Now, when I have reached an age of something near adulthood (25), people flock to me. I’m all of a sudden not weird, but intriguing. I didn’t change, but people are starting to realize the appeal of being your own person.
I’m glad I never let them get to me…
Great post! Thanks!
alex - unleash reality says
super sexy lava smooth writing.
normal is a scam. doesn’t exist.
to me, seeing the weirdness within and embracing it – “here i am in all my glory, behold the resplendent weirdness that is Alex” – is just about recognising the triviality of it all. personality is largely collected from other sources. just feel that behind all that seeming weirdness is a person.
then being weird is okay 🙂
p.s. did you get my mail? sent it to the marc [at] marcandangel [dot] com. please get back to me one way or the other.
keep well and happy holidays mate
alex – unleashreality.com
Marc M. says
“There is no normal life, Wyatt, there’s just life, ya live it.”
-Doc Holiday in Tombstone
Brett - DareToExpress.com says
(And Alex too, he follows ME everywhere, I swear!)
I heart this post, Marc. Like bunnies love carrots. That’s how much I like it.
Weirdness is nothing. Know what’s really weird and grates me? People who aren’t willing to be what other people consider “weird” and just drop the ego and just BE THEMSELVES for once. It’s like people are so afraid of being idiosyncratic that it just screws up their internal wiring so much that they literally go crazy. We all know those people: they have ridiculous mood swings, are always concerned about what other people think of them, are always stressed out, and rarely smile, even when you tell them they have beautiful smiles that light up rooms/cities/countries/the globe. But what they don’t do is really ever express themselves because they are AFRAID of being called “weird” or equivalent.
But here’s the thing: most people are dying to break out of their shells and express themselves, but still call people who truly express and act on their true desires and motivations “weird”, like it’s some kind of curse. They just wish they had the strength to do so. But they perpetuate all the “weird” name-calling and ostracizing that they themselves are hurt the most by, ironically enough.
And I can totally relate to your meditative experience while running. I feel the same way while snowboarding, mountain biking, and playing hockey – for the most part. It’s the best feeling EVER – I call it “flow state” or “presence” based on Mihaly what’s-his-face and Eckhart Tolle’s writings, respectively. Go check them out if you haven’t already to understand the meditative state and how to unleash it like some kind of insta-win atom bomb wherever you are.
Above all, just have some happy holidays!
Nea | Self Improvement Saga says
This is so true. And for me–I love being weird. There’s nothing fun about being yourself if self is just like everyone else.
Such a wonderful article.
I prefer ‘unique’ to ‘weird,’
as it’s usually the quirks
that help in defining an
individual, which is
perfectly ok. 🙂
On a side note, you do
cover quite a few miles!
And absolutely nothing
wrong with running at
night. That’s actually
when I prefer to go on
runs as well, and it’s nice
to know I’m not the only
George H. says
I am confused. The title of this post is “Why We Are Weird” I came here from another site to find out the “why” part but there is no answer. The conclusion doesn’t explain anything. The title of this post is misleading.
Jason @ forty2fifty.com says
Marc… Really like this post and completely agree with the weird normalcy of our world. It’s so easy to jump to judgment of others without taking the time to understand they’re trying to get through their lives just as I’m trying to get through mine.
The best way I know how with the most fun I can.
It’s funny that the word “weird” has been following me for some time. At first I felt offended but now I embrace it. Weird, odd, hippie…all of these names usually have negative connotations by the ones doing the name calling but little do they know that it only empowers me.
It’s great to see that you get so much from running. The IDEA of running is always more exciting than actually running in my case. For me cycling, yoga, and meditation help me recenter and focus on the now.
I wholeheartedly believe that if we look within ourselves we can see a little bit of us in everyone and vice versa. Too often people judge prematurely and fail to make relationships because they think someone is “weird”.
You’re post was lovely and I believe we can all learn from it.
Hulbert Lee says
Hi Marc. I really liked reading this article. I used to be in cross country also. Sometimes I would go running a couple of miles just for fun and I’m sure if I asked people to come with me, they might think that I would be a little crazy or weird. But when you do it, it’s not that bad. I love running because like you say, even when your body is in motion, your mind is free and relaxed. Thanks for this!
Taylor Reed says
You are absolutely right. It shouldn’t be in the same category as those others. But the fact is, a LOT of people do attend church and fellowship for the wrong reasons and clearing their minds is unfortunately a big one. “Going to church” belongs in that category even though it really should not. It shows the state that the modern church is in now, which is an exciting time, filled with opportunity, but also a sad time in which the church is being watered down and muddled with false doctrine and teachings.
Great article. Really good to hear from you again 🙂 The guest writers have been great but I must say that I’ve missed you.. Keep it up 🙂
Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice says
It’s actually kind of ‘cool’ to be wierd…in a wierd kind of way.
I completely agree. A while ago, I was riding my bike, listening to my ipod, no real destination in mind. I knew I was looking for something, but for what, I don’t know. Then, I heard construction over my music. I took out an earbud and rode towards the sound.
Then I saw it. It was beautiful. It was simply the frame of a house, but it shocked and inspired me. I sat on my bike and watched until the construction workers left. Then I looked around, and seeing as I was alone, I went and walked around and inside the frame.
Every weekend since then, I have been checking up on the house. There has always been a sign out front that reads “SOLD.” Visiting the house fills me with inspiration and happiness, and I’ve realized my true passion: I want to be an architect.
This summer I’m going to build a small shed for myself in my backyard using the simple plans from Lowe’s.
I have told one person about this, and they teased me for trespassing. You’re right, we’re all somewhat weird.
So what is the RIGHT reason to attend church? To worship God? Isn’t the point of worship to set aside your worries/ego and connect with some higher meaning/being? In other words, Britney & Taylor, church is a great place to CLEAR THE MIND. For the non-religious, a forest or tattoo parlor may serve just is well . Whether my deity is mariachi music or Mickey Mouse, why not support each other in seeking spiritual peace?
Taylor Reed says
Exactly. I do believe it is to worship God. I do not believe that the “point of worship to set aside your worries/ego and connect with some higher meaning/being.” I believe that the point of church is to worship THE ONE TRUE GOD and by supporting other spiritual endeavors I am not encouraging spiritual peace. By supporting other spiritual endeavors I’m encouraging ignorance, and in the long run I’m not looking out for my brothers and sisters at all. It may not seem like the nice thing to do and it is exclusive but there is no other way that I could act in love. Jesus himself showed that best in Matthew 21:12 (accounted in the gospels in other places as well..) when he turned over the tables in the temple and rebuked those abusing the church for their own profit. Yes, he was aggressive and it didn’t seem like the nicest thing to do, but leaving the sellers there and not showing them how serious their actions were to him, he would only be hurting them. So, back to my point, I myself believe that the main purpose of the church is to worship God and although ones mind may be cleared, I don’t see that as the goal. By not letting others know of this I believe that I am actually not being supportive of others spiritual peace and I am doing them a disservice. That being said, our freewill and freedom to choose for ourselves is a god-given ability that I value…. so I’m not going to try to force you to believe what I believe. I just want to let you know. It’s just my opinion, no matter right nor wrong. Have a great weekend and merry christmas!
Dian Reid says
I found your blog recently and really loved this post. The point seems to be less about the specifics of what you do, but that it’s important to do what you love and totally lose yourself in it. At least, that’s my takeaway. Great reminder to connect to myself by getting lost in myself.
Thanks for all the lovely comments, all! 😉
In regards to the comments about church…
I certainly don’t mean any disrespect. My point is simply that some folks that don’t attend church, or that don’t have any religious affiliation at all, tend to view religious folks as being a bit ‘weird.’ And some religious folks think that those who aren’t religious are a bit ‘misguided’ and ‘weird.’
My point being… we are all weird in our own way.
Ah I loved this post. Yep we live in such a diverse world and thats what makes it so darn interesting. I’m glad we are all not the same
Cool post. It sound like in this post that “weird” is anything outside of societal norms. The key then, it seems, is to find and follow your own uniqueness no matter how weird it may be to others. Whether that’s running in the middle of the night or strumming a guitar while smoking a joint, you have to find what works for you (not that I advocate anyone break the law…)
To the person who said the post doesn’t explain “why are we weird,” no it doesn’t from a psychological stand point, but I think it’s pretty clear that we’re all weird because everyone is unique.
so get this…I used to like to run at night after taking a couple tokes. Talk about relaxing the mind! Now, I do neither. I need to take up at least one of these things again.
B. Burns says
“Because when I ran, my mind was clear and at peace with the world – especially when nobody else was around. In the midst of what seemed to be a strenuous workout, my mind was in a soothingly relaxed state… similar to that of a deep meditation”
I can relate. That’s the main reason I’ve been running for the last 30 years. It clears the mind. It’s such a catharsis sometimes after a great long feel good run. And I run at 5:00 AM in Chicago land in winter and I like that nobody is around then too.
“… and those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane be those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzscne
Larissa Q says
My daughter tells me I’m weird, I always answer with thank you.
Weird means I am not boring. It means I am full of suprises!
John Sherry says
Big up for the weirdos. Or, put another way, those who don’t follow the norm, the tried and tested or the regular and routine. Weirdly, weird is wonderful. It’s stamping your own mark in a way that the 9-5, 2.4 kids, 2 cars 2 jobs, life lemmings don’t like. Simply cool that!
This was a good article. I liked this part: “…Or jump out of perfectly good airplanes.” heh. Now I have a good reason for my twitter profile pic. It says: Yeah. I’m a little weird.
I think its weird moments like this that remind us we aren’t weird… but actually the same in different ways.
If everyone has their weirdness… it’s not really weird… is it?
Mike L. says
I am a student myself and I love to run. There have been a few weeks in which I’ve kept a similar schedule to what you once did, but not for too long. But I also have a weekend long run, and seven days a week of running is an incredible method of escape and meditation. I enjoy it most at sunrise and sunset. And whenever I meet someone who runs, not as just part of a school team, but also on their own, I suddenly have a much deeper respect for them. Something clicks. And I’ve often thought about this topic, if other people who aren’t runners also “get it”.
So, without any more further rambling, I would just like to sincerely thank you for having put into writing this incredible phenomenon and explained it to the world.
My cousin and I are admittedly weird…. in various ways, no need to go into them here – but she sent me a wonderful sticker:
“Normal people worry me!”
And you know, it’s true!! 😉
Oh and by the way, this photo you have here looks like my niece! I’m going to send her this link and ask if it’s her?
I have made it a point to read many of these entries as a positive start to my New Year. I adore this site and return to it daily. It has been a shining light for me as of late and I thank you for it. 🙂 Peace.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS TEXT:
we are all different, cause we all have different things we love to do
but if we all live life and express ourselves in our own unique way
we also let others free to express in their personnal way
then we see we are all the same:
cause all of us, we do these things to feel good and happy!
in this way we are all connected, one!
so it also means we are not responsible for someone’s happiness!
so there is also no reason at all to stop doing the stuff we like,
even opposite: it is our goal in life,
it’s the meaning of life!
-life has so much to offer you!
-being connected in the heart with everyone!
take care :
if we don’t like things others do, don’t judge them,
that’s the only challenge,
it means that u have to do more yourself what u like!
THAT’S ALL 🙂
thanks folks, for sharing life!!!! xx
This is beautiful. Immediately upon reading the last line of this post I proclaimed, “I freaking love this”.
I just wanted to let you know that I “stumbled” upon your blog and have been reading random posts ever since. You have even inspired me to write my own blog. For a long time I felt lost. I always looked for something to fulfill me and with your help I have realized that I fulfill me. The things I do for others, the things I learn, the new things I try and experience fulfill me. Thank you <3
I’ve been seen and thought of as weird very often that sometimes, I am tempted to think that I indeed am weird, but after reading this, I don’t feel so strange at all.