Born to Run

1. My buddy Chris lent me this book, Born to Run.

If I finish this book (which I hope to), it will be the first book I have finished since law school. This is an accomplishment in and of itself.

2. In addition, the book has inspired me to run more, and run smarter. This past Thursday I ran/walked 5.34 miles, for probably the first time ever. Previously, I thought I could not do this, as an old ankle injury (I broke my ankle in four places when I was 14 or 15 years old) caused chronic problems, such as achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and general pain and discomfort in the ankle, after prolonged running. Born To Run taught me to focus on every footfall, minimize heel impact, and listen to my body’s signals. As a result, I had little or no discomfort after the 5 mile run. I started out from 38th, then over to the West Side Highway park at 34th, then down to Morton Street and back up to 38th via the West Side Highway. Doing this gave me renewed hope that I could try distance running. While it’s probably too hot these days to run (this week is in the high 90’s), I hope to get in some more runs on the West Side Highway when things cool down. If I continue along this path, I plan to reward myself by getting some tracking gear, like the NIKE+ Ipod or the Garmin Forerunner.

3. Peggy Noonan is probably my favorite conservative columnist. She was a former speechwriter for Reagan and an amazing writer. She recently wrote a very poignant story titled “A Cold Man’s Warm Words” relating to the authoring of the Declaration of Independence, and specifically the pain Thomas Jefferson experienced as he watched his words cut down by committee. This passage was perhaps the best:

Jefferson had, in his bill of particulars against the king, taken a moment to incriminate the English people themselves—”our British brethren”—for allowing their king and Parliament to send over to America not only “soldiers of our own blood” but “foreign Mercenaries to invade and destroy us.” This, he said, was at the heart of the tragedy of separation. “These facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us renounce forever” our old friends and brothers. “We must endeavor to forget our former love for them.”

Well. Talk of love was a little much for the delegates. Love was not on their mind. The entire section was removed.

And so were the words that came next. But they should not have been, for they are the tenderest words.

Poignantly, with a plaintive sound, Jefferson addresses and gives voice to the human pain of parting: “We might have been a free and great people together.”

What loss there is in those words, what humanity, and what realism, too.

“To write is to think, and to write well is to think well,” David McCullough once said in conversation. Jefferson was thinking of the abrupt end of old ties, of self-defining ties, and, I suspect, that the pain of this had to be acknowledged. It is one thing to declare the case for freedom, and to make a fiery denunciation of abusive, autocratic and high-handed governance. But it is another thing, and an equally important one, to acknowledge the human implications of the break. These were our friends, our old relations; we were leaving them, ending the particular facts of our long relationship forever. We would feel it. Seventeen seventy-six was the beginning of a dream. But it was the end of one too. “We might have been a free and great people together.”

To me, those words showed a real sense of lament over the split, and one that is often overlooked by history. The second emotion that resonated with me was the pain Jefferson surely experienced as the words he agonized over were whittled down by committee. That is an experience to which all lawyers can certainly relate.

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