Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pink Moon

Friday was to be an easy run for me, which usually means a couple of miles on the treadmill and then a trot around the neighborhood. From Andy Paras on Twitter, I got this link about what was to happen that night, so the thought hatched that a good place to see this event would be from the Ravenel bridge, aka the Cooper River Bridge, the very one we will be doing a 10k over on April 2.

I stayed busy most of Friday, getting off work at noon and then doing a few errands before heading home. Later in the afternoon I took Baxter to "Fetch Field" as I have hereby named it, and we played for a while so the little doggie could enjoy his sprints and burn off some energy. He is a joy to watch flying after his tennis ball, often catching it on the bounce and impatient to have it tossed again.

Back home I thought about my run and whether or not it would be easier just to do it there instead of driving into town. There wasn't much enthusiasm to get on the treadmill; it would be cooling off nicely in the evening and the thought of running on the bridge, perhaps a bit crowded, gave me an unexpected rush of anticipation. Okay, that's decided, I will do it.

Jennifer is in Illinois so would not be running with me. She had gone to be with daughter Becca who is expecting their first child any day now, but once there an unwelcomed development occurred...son John Ryan developed chest pains and had to be taken to the hospital. Apparently a respiratory infection had spread to his heart and caused what was thought might be a heart attack. Scary, scary stuff. John Ryan is resting in the hospital as I write this and will be released once his pains have subsided.


As I drove over to Waterfront Park I knew this was the run I needed to do and was happy I had not trudged it out at home. Got out of the Pilot, set my Garmin to do autolaps every mile, and took off.

It was already dark, but plenty of lighting from the park and bridge. As I ran up the concrete trail - and all of tonight's run would be on concrete - I saw a sign "Beware of coyotes." Good for a one footed guy to know, I suppose, and wouldn't the coyotes to be surprised and sad to find their meal would be a foot short for the pack.

There are bike and pedestrian lanes clearly marked, and equally clearly disregarded by many walkers there. I decided early on the ignore the ignorant, I get enough of that at the town tracks. Run, just run, enjoy the night.

And I did.

Climbing up the first span I was in a good rhythm. This was an easy run, and the climbs and descents would provide a little more effort but I was determined to keep it comfortable. As I crested the main span I stopped for a few minutes to take in the scenery.

Glorious, glorious. Some orange, yellows, purples, and pinks in the west, and behind me the old man in the moon was speaking volumes. The thought crossed my mind how beyond amazing this all was, how no one could possibly take it all in. You could live a lifetime in these few minutes and not be cheated of a single second.

As gravity led me down to Charleston, the stiff wind made me careful to watch my step. Although it was dark, I was expecting more people on the bridge; it was relatively deserted which suited me fine, thank you. Down to East Bay and another half mile or so to make 3. No one at all here and I was running very comfortably...hold it down fella, you have speedwork tomorrow and will want fresh legs.

I turn around and head back to Mount Pleasant, now I can look back from where I came and love to see the distance traveled across the Cooper River. A train is moving through the terminal yard, mechanical and rail sounds harmonizing with the a cappella highway traffic. In the distance a siren wails.

And the moon.

Up. Up.

Now we rise and we are everywhere

I remembered "Pink Moon" from our college radio station in the early 70s, and wondered why I didn't buy the album back then. Working on projects late at night, it was one that I always expected and often heard. Maybe it needed to stay untouched in that time of my life.

Until this morning I didn't know about Nick Drake's life, and was sorry it had ended tragically. That someone of such brilliance had lost his way and no one could reach out to bring him back. Perhaps in some situations this is the way of life - and death - but I refuse to believe one cannot know both the depths and heights this life has to offer without ending it before the short lease closes on us all.

The wind was blowing harder as I took a couple of unsteady pictures with my phone's camera, knowing I'd likely lose the sharp features of the old man's face, but god what a sight, how utterly incomprehensible all this is, this life, our miracle.

I did not want to leave.

Not yet.


As I was writing this post this morning, I came across something astounding. It made me wonder - what if he could have found what we have found in running, this release and meditation, the holiness of life, indeed, the near and the far:

"In 1957, Drake enrolled at Eagle House School, an English preparatory boarding school in Berkshire. Five years later, he went on to public school at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all attended. He developed an interest in sport, becoming an accomplished sprinter (his record for the 100-yard dash still stands)..."

(This post dedicated to the memory of Nick Drake, musician and runner, June 19, 1948 –  November 25, 1974)


  1. I listen to a lot of music, and every so often I attempt to list my top five (or so) favorite albums. There's some great stuff that has come along that have come close to claiming the title (Radiohead's Amnesiac, Midlake's The Trials of Van Occupanther, Chad VanGaalen's Infiniheart), but nothing has ever taken the title from Nick Drake's Pink Moon.

    There's something so chilling about it. The way he composes and performs each song as if he is trying to communicate a profound happiness that he has seen, but not felt. It's like he is striving to share this thing for which he lacks the words because he is missing a piece of the puzzle.

    I'd like to think that he knew what true happiness was, and that he also knew that it was the prize to be achieved, that one value that outweighs the rest for which we are all searching. I'd like to think that he was trying to share that knowledge through his Pink Moon album. I believe that he knew where happiness was, but he lost his path.

    Some find it through religion, others through music. Some find it in their family or in their friends. Some find it in charity, some find it in working with their community and some folks find it in running. It's sad that Nick didn't find his path, and it's even more sad that he didn't stick around to continue the search. Never the less, Pink Moon remains as the light at the end of that path, like a beacon, guiding us to the next way-point on our own personal journeys towards happiness.

    Or maybe it's the drugs talking in my hospital brain. Four days in the same room will do things to a man's mind.

  2. I know it is not the drugs talking, they are only allowing some public introspection.

    Maybe it was happiness, though perhaps it was not peace he found, the peace to allow Nick his place in this world. Not many do. We come and go in this world..every single one of us make this passage.

    I think when someone with so much promise and beauty like Nick has so short a stay, it serves to remind is how precious each and every life is. Not to see it is the tragedy, and I think he did glimpse the thing he could not grasp.

    I ran under the big moon again tonight, thinking on these things...and on my wife's children, and the peace I have in my life.

    It's a pink moon.

  3. Great post!! I felt like I was there! Thanks for sharing! :)