One of my favorite moments in the Don't Fear The Reaper SNL skit with Christopher Walken is not the one most people seem to remember. (And if you are still making "More Cowbell!" jokes and expecting some laughs, I have this hip new song called the Macarena I'd like for you to hear.) Telling the band to really loosen up, he mentions they should explore the studio space. Then, for emphasis, he repeats: "I mean, really... explore the space."
It cracks me up every time. It is so artsy and pretentious all at the same time. It is a cramped fake studio with nine members of Blue Oyster Cult crammed in there. Of course, it is merely the setup for Will Ferrell to give the seminal moment in his career, but it is still wonderful.
I have spent the last week in Salt Lake City, a town I spent over years in before moving to Portland. When looking over a map of where I am staying I noticed a park I had never heard of. In runner's terms it is tiny and wouldn't warrant any special need to run to it but I was surprised it had never hit my radar. So I decided I would run to it and, well, explore my space.
It is no secret that most people tend to not look into the nooks and crannies of the world closest to them. Focused on seeing the rest of the world, the nearby is often neglected. We tend to stick to the ways which get us to and fro the fastest. Our commute to work, our favorite eating places and our places of leisure are where we go most often Even we runners, who think that with every footstep we take we are solving an international crisis, don't see as much as we think. (If you think I am pandering to runners by slightly insulting than but including myself with the "we" pronoun then you haven't read how I ran over 3,000 miles around the same 1.5 mile loop over four years.) Even a great deal of that is necessity. There is a finite time to run the miles we want in a day, and if you have to factor in safety, liquids, etc., even trail runners with their instagramming of life have to stay on most of the same trails.
I hit the International Peace Garden and was flat out blown away. It was an absolute hidden gem. Statues, flower arrangements, monuments, benches and a plethora of other things were crammed into this little place. How had I missed this? I stood for a minute and was really rather moved. as a rather cynical pragmatist I am not "moved" too often. But the moment struck me.
I began my meandering journey back to where I was staying on the Jordan Parkway Trail. I have run parts of this trail to the North and to the South but never right here. The sun was shining and I just felt good. I was exploring my space.
Soon I found myself looking at a sign I didn't recall seeing in SLC before. A It reminded me of my new home in Portland. "Cycle the City". Salt Lake City is not really know to be a runner's town, per se. It and Utah, are more of an outdoorsy place than just running. Rafting, mountain climbing, spelunking, etc are what you see in the brochures and in the lifestyles of many. There is plenty of cycling to go around but it is not necessarily "bike-friendly." But here was this sign.
It reminded me of how much I loved my new home and how much I look forward to exploring its space, as well. In fact, an entire chapter in my new book is about exploring the space of this country. And the world. And doing what you can to suck the marrow out of life.
Obviously you don't need to do this through ambulation. You don't have to travel great distances and see great things. Like Walken's character suggested, you can explore the space of the most cramped areas. But I would suggest you do both. Look inside you while you are outside. Learn as much as you can about the world which will in turn help you learn about yourself.
Explore your space.