Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Ganesha the god-maker regarded the jungle about him. Though he walked through the realm of the phantom cats, he feared no evil. For the Lord of Chaos walked by his side, and the Trident of Destruction comforted him.
--Roger Zelazny, in Lord of Light


I am a person who is naturally superstitious. In developing a mental fortitude that allowed me to run great distances, I've found not only the use of mantras to be very important but having a physical symbol of strength to carry with me. When I started this running journey I was wearing the Ankh, the Egyptian symbol associated with everlasting life and the element of water. Being a Rhode Islander the water has always had an important role in my life, and I took up running in part to extend my health and my life, so I feel the connection there is obvious. I've also always enjoyed the Ankh as a symbol. I've owned various pendants in that shape since I was a teenager, so I've got some history with it.

I wore the Ankh on and off for a couple of years (I continue to wear it today on occasion) and I also wear the Eye of Horus. Another ancient symbol that represents protection. My Horus pendant is an onyx disc with multiple Egyptian symbols surrounding the eye in Silver. I never wore it a lot while running, just because it was so heavy. But I did wear it quite a few other times through the past years because I like the iconography.

I moved on to the Scorpion for a couple of reasons. My astrological sign is Scorpio, and also I wanted to claim the protection of a symbol that many people, including myself, may find intimidating. It was a sort of a “batman” moment. Scorpions aren't terribly friendly. But I think of mine as being a spirit animal of sorts. I usually have some minor anxieties when dragging myself out on a long run (am I dressed right for the weather? What if a car hits me? What if I twist an ankle?) and I have to muster the strength to just get out the door. The scorpion pendant I wear represents that sort of grit that it takes to pull me through some of those thoughts.

For this next chapter in my life I've chosen a different sort of talisman. In discussing design plans for our baby's nursery, my wife and I settled on a color scheme of teals, blues, and lime greens with Elephants as a unifying theme. We've always liked elephants, and I've long collected statues (and have a great set of book ends) of elephants. I also can remember my grandmother reading the French children's stories of Babar to me when I was young.

Being a student of Eastern thought, and coupled with this new plan for the nursery I've decided to adopt the Hindu deity of Ganesha as my talisman for this next ten years. Ganesha is the Hindu deity who is often referred to as the “remover of obstacles.” He is the God of knowledge, wisdom, and new beginnings.

One of my favorite books on Hinduism is Sanjay Patel's The Little Book of Hindu Deities. In the book Patel refers to a story in which Shiva created Ganesha to protect his wife Parvati. When he returned, Ganesha didn't recognize him and so Shiva took his head off. 

Parvati gave him a hard time about that, so Shiva replaced his head with the head of an elephant. Obviously there are a lot of variations to these stories as Hinduism is a very old religion, but this one is one of my favorite versions. My understanding is that in Hinduism he is seen as a friend deity, one who you are meant to think of warmly. I like that for this chapter, because I'm hoping this child sees the world in a warm, friendly way.

So Ganesha will be a great symbol for me as I start this new chapter in my life: a way to tie in an acceptance of all the changes to come. A symbol of the desire to learn and overcome, and the unconditional love I already feel for this child.

My legs are tired this week. 8 miles into the week, and we have a fairly big storm coming that's expected to drop a couple of inches of rain. I may take a day off today to rest, and run some errands. This weekend I'm planning to run a 5k I run every year around my birthday. I'm not sure that I'll try to race it very hard, but I'm hoping to put in a decent enough effort and finish around 22 minutes. I'm thinking it was overly ambitious to shoot for the marathon this Sunday (on my birthday) but who knows. I may still change my mind and go run it.

My bigger concern now is running it and getting injured, being unable to run the running streak I do every year between American Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Decisions, decisions...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are appreciated, but will be moderated.