Uneasiness. Inquietude. There is work to be done.

George Sheehan

“Jogging or whatever our sport is, then, is the way we move from actuality toward our potential, toward becoming all we can be. At the same time it will fill us with uneasiness, with what Gabriel Marcel called inquietude, the recognition that there is work to be done to fulfill our lives. And it allows us to see, as Theodore Roszak suggested, that our most solemn, and pressing, and primary problem is not “original sin” but “original splendor,” knowledge of our potential godlikeness. “We grow sick,” Roszak wrote, “with the guilt of having lived below our authentic level.”

~ George Sheehan, Running & Being


My friend Elise suggested I read Sheehan’s Book Running & Being.  I was hooked from the first chapter and I’m sipping a few pages a day.  More on George Sheehan below:

George Sheehan, 1918-1993, was born in Brooklyn in 1918, the oldest of a doctor’s 14 children.  He became a cardiologist like his father.  After medical school he served in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II as a doctor on the battleship USS Daly. Just before leaving for active service he married “the most beautiful woman on the Jersey Shore,” Mary Jane Fleming, and together they subsequently raised a dozen children.  Success and security in the suburbs were not enough for him. He became “bored” with medicine, with getting “bombed out” every weekend, with falling asleep in front of the TV. He went back to reading philosophy. He read The Greeks, Emerson, Thoreau, Ortega, and James. Then he read Irenaeus, one of the early church fathers, who wrote, “The glory of God is man fully functioning.” George Sheehan knew he wasn”t fully functioning. He started to run. He began in his back yard (26 loops to a mile) and then became something of an oddity in Rumson, NJ running along the river road during his lunch hour wearing his white long-johns and a ski mask. His new life had begun and its message was soon clear—“Man at any age is still the marvel of the universe.” Five years later, he ran a 4:47 mile, which was the world”s first sub-five-minute time by a 50-year-old.

But it was not age with which he was concerned. It was life in the present. “Don”t be concerned if running or exercise will add years to your life,” he would say, “be concerned with adding life to your years.” He liked to quote William James, who said, “The strenuous life tastes better.”

He began writing a weekly column in the local paper. In short time, the running world was listening. This self-described loner from Red Bank, NJ became one of the most sought out experts on health and fitness. And his door was always open.

He continued the column for twenty five years. Many of these years were served as the medical editor for Runner’s World magazine. He wrote eight books and lectured around the world. “Listen to your body,” was his slogan. “We are each an experiment of one.” One critic referred to his talks as “the running community”s equivalent of a Bruce Springsteen concert, though listening to him was more like taking off with John Coltrane on some improvised solo.”

Bio Source: George Sheehan official website.


Comments

  1. i really like the thought of working towards regaining our original splendor. a much more positive approach then trying to cleanse ourselves of original sin. be all we can be.

    one reason i decided to leave catholicism at age 7. i believe we (and all babies) are born pure of heart, not with a black mark imposed upon them. it is up to them to decide what to do with that purity as they go through their lives.

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  2. “We are each an experiment of one.” I really like this concept. I feel like there’s so much generalization in the world today, so many who are quick to say, “This is what I believe in, so it’s right for everyone.” Dr. Sheehan sounds like a wise man….

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  3. An yes, to all of that. To original splendor and the woe of living below authentic greatness, to books unread, flowing out of the shelves on the walls and onto the floor both at work and at home..and I admit, some even on Kindle, to the hope and dream of a heaven comprised of a glorious library and TIME TO READ.. And Roszak who long ago inspired me and has been neglected ever since, and now, Sheehan..living his authentic greatness… Thank you for bringing these inspirations to my Ipad this Monday morning…

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  4. Ah, nice to be inspired by your blog again, David! Loved this post. Can’t recall the original thinker, but it reminds me of this saying: Our deepest fear is not what we lack. It is that we could be great beyond out imagination.” (Perhaps someone recalls this quote it more clearly). At any rate, hope you and your family are well.

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    • Thanks Susan. Love Marianne Williamson’s quote. Profound. Here it is:

      “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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  5. Dave,thanks for the great book recommendations, Peace Like a River was fantastic. I have not been reading fiction for quite a while-that got me right back to where I should be. Now all I have to do is find the time to write-another thing you seem to have the talent of passing of encouraging.
    John

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  6. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    “We could be great beyond our imagination.” Wow. That truly is one of the most inspiring and profound phrases I’ve ever heard. “We could be…” if only we wouldn’t hold ourselves back and come up with reasons why we “can’t”.

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  7. I just added this to my long list of must-reads! Thanks for sharing, David!

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  8. Now you’ve made me feel guilty. I’ve just eaten a left over Halloween chocolate bar.

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  9. “Don”t be concerned if running or exercise will add years to your life,” he would say, “be concerned with adding life to your years.” YES!!

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  10. A new anthology of Dr. Sheehan’s writings was published just last week: http://www.amazon.com/The-Essential-Sheehan-Lifetime-Legendary/dp/1609619323

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  11. I loved Roszak’s The Voice of the Earth. With huge gratitude to you, I am also going to read his Person/Planet.

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  12. ah.. and now The Essential Sheehan. Joy in this day, David

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