(Reflections after Day 1 with our projects)
Last semester, a good friend gave me a book to read. It had pretty much been left unread, so I finally brought it with me to Grenada. I figured some sunshine would help me leaf through the pages of Haruki Murakami’s: “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.” It’s a memoir about how running changed the author’s life and how his daily regimen is deeply connected to his personal growth and his writing.
When Murakami first started running in his thirties, he embraced the slow process of his body’s physical changes. Compared to his younger years, the snail-paced changes were not efficient, but the author emphasizes that he was not in a rush.
On his capacity to run, Murakami says:
“The amount I can exercise is going downhill, as is the efficiency of the whole process, but what are you going to do? I just have to accept it, and make do with what I can get. One of the realities of life. Plus, I don’t think we should judge the value of our lives by how efficient they are.”
As a recent avid runner myself, I couldn’t help but agree. Running involves a “mind over matter” attitude that tests your willpower but at the same time, has the ability to usher in pure adrenaline after completing a long or difficult run. (I hope fellow runners can agree.)
This reminded me (of course) of our PHAST team here in Grenada, where we’ve just finished our first day working on our respective projects. “Improving health” may involve a long-term process, where the fruits of labor are invisible to the ones who planted the seeds in the first place. Whether in Grenada or in Michigan, behavior change does not happen instantly and the aspects of education, capacity-building and follow-up can be laborious.
Murakami “made do with that he had.” If he had judged his progress by comparing himself to someone else, he might have given up. In the same way that running involves persistence and going at one’s own pace, public health is applied in the same manner. Going one step at a time and looking beyond the horizon is just an integral part of the process.