‘Heterodoxy or Life as a Stranger” by Bob Hodge


Bob Hodge is an occasional contributor to this blog. Readers look forward to his posts. Bob grew up in Lowell and established himself as one of the top runners of his generation. He finished third in the Boston Marathon in 1979 and won the 1982 Beppu-Oita Marathon in Japan, among other accomplishments. His book about his running career will be released before the 2020 Boston Marathon.– PM

Heterodoxy or Life as a Stranger

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

I understood at some moment in my life perhaps around age 13 that I had a tendency to stand alone, feel apart somehow. If in a large crowd of people, I would feel claustrophobic and want out, hopefully to a quiet place a forest.

Also in my thoughts I in some way went against the grain and I even remember having my first sort of philosophical debate with someone at a house party at age 16 or 17 regarding the relative worth of say a M.D. versus a Garbage Man. Of course, I regarded the Garbage Man as highly as a physician, crazy huh?

I was feeling the pull of some invisible force within me, my head and my heart were telling me: Be calm, life has its tragedies, and my family had suffered a few, and I wondered how long would my life go on–where others despaired or determined to be a success in some career and put the past behind them, I determined to run myself into the ground because that feeling, the out-of-body-like experience was all that lasted.

It is a thrill to see how far you can push your mind and body and not always healthy, but when I raced and I began to know my competitors, I recognized others of my persuasion when my teammates would refer to them as “sick” and “not right”–they were going to be the best runners no doubt. If someone referred to me that way I considered it a compliment.

In my teens I felt ungainly in my body certainly not an athletic physique just a scrawny kid, but when I ran in my mind I was powerful and I proved it to myself by running away from my competitors or most of them.

As I became more immersed in athletics and read the great athletic biographies and strongly identified with the athletes I read about, I realized many of them were just like me when they were my age and that I might become transcendent.

Though I was calm on the outside, a petard grew on the inside where I raged and it went off when I raced. Otherwise I was very quiet in a group, shy even, but immediately after a race on the ride home you could not shut me up–I was momentarily a different animal, still wired from the experience adrenaline, staggering and swaggering punch drunk.

And yet I could be morose. One time a friend’s dad asked me, “Does your father beat you?” Everyone laughed. I gave him the finger.

As I moved through my teen years and through high school, I knew that I could not conform–it was only later that I turned this on myself and decided that for me, the way I was built, conforming would be a form of non-conformity.

Mind games, tricks that we play on ourselves–at eighteen I thought I knew it all, the ways of the world, and I did, too, but then later I met someone . . . .

VAN MORRISON Bright Side of the Road – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCDZzf4ragg
Lyrics
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
We’ll be lovers once again
On the bright side of the road

Little darlin’, come with me
Won’t you help me share my load
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

Into this life we’re born
Baby sometimes, sometimes we don’t know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye

Let’s enjoy it while we can (let’s enjoy it while we can)
Won’t you help me share my load (help me share my load)
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

Into this life we’re born
Baby sometimes, sometimes we don’t know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye

Let’s enjoy it while we can (let’s enjoy it while we can)
Help me sing my song (help me sing my song)
Little darling come alone
To the bright side of the road
On the dark end of the street (on the dark end of the street)
To the bright side of the road (to the bright side of the road)
Little darling come alone
On the bright side of the road
On the dark end of the street (on the dark end of the street)
To the bright side of the road (to the bright sight of the road)
We’ll be lovers once again
On the bright side of the road

Yeah, we’ll be, we’ll be lovers once again
On the bright side of the road

One Response to ‘Heterodoxy or Life as a Stranger” by Bob Hodge

  1. David Daniel says:

    Good words from Bob Hodge. I trust there’ll be more. He was inspiration in my own days of running with the Greater Lowell Road Runners. Someday I want to tell him about being in Hayward Field in Eugene the night Steve Prefontaine died.

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