Monday, October 17, 2011

Custer, Hubris...and Ultrarunning

Image credit from SonoftheSouth, here

I have previously used The Writer's Almanac as fodder for my posts, but seriously, if you are in any way touched by the term "literary" you should sign up for the free daily email.  There is almost always some nugget of info that you are tickled by, and say "I didn't know that!"

From 14 Aug 2011, Custer  by David Shumate

He is a hard one to write a poem about. Like Napoleon.

Hannibal. Genghis Khan. Already so large in history. To do it right, I have to sit down with him. At a place of his own choosing. Probably a steakhouse. We take a table in a corner.

But people still recognize him, come up and slap him on the back, say how much they enjoyed studying about him in school and ask for his autograph. After he eats, he leans back and lights up a cigar  and asks me what I want to know. Notebook in hand, I suggest that we start with the Little Big Horn and work our way back. But I realize I have offended him. That he would rather take it the other way around. So he rants on about the Civil War, the way west, the loyalty of good soldiers and now and then twists his long yellow hair with his fingers.

But when he gets to the part about Sitting Bull, about Crazy Horse, he develops a twitch above his right eye, raises his finger for the waiter, excuses himself and goes to the restroom while I sit there along the bluffs with the entire Sioux nation, awaiting his return.

Custer was a crazy SOB, who grew to "maturity" in the crucible of the American Civil War.  He was a warrior--which there is a need for at times--and was superior at his craft.  He ultimately suffered from an excess of hubris (overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance), which proved his undoing.

The link to Ultrarunning?  Whenever you enter a race, or go for a training run that is above and beyond previous attempts, be humble.  Be respectful of the trails and of the craft of Ultrarunning.  Be realistic about your abilities on that day.  In short, be cognizant of the danger of'll fell you quicker than catching a toe on a stone.


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