I was going to post this as a Random Shot of Beauty a couple of weeks ago, except for the fact that I felt nearly overcome with dread while taking it:
The National Steinbeck Center in downtown Salinas, where my friend Mike and I were scheduled for a “Meet the Authors” presentation for our Running Life book on a recent Friday evening. We were invited to talk a little bit about our book, read a few excerpts, and explain how the natural beauty of Monterey County helps inspire both our running and our writing.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m much more comfortable as a writer than as a promoter, and this night was no exception. Of course, I might not have felt nearly so self-conscious if we hadn’t been speaking just below the brooding visage of Steinbeck himself, looming over us as if waiting to pass judgment. You know … no pressure or anything.
Our warm up act – I swear I’m not making this up - was a class of mariachi guitarists. It was one of those “Only in Salinas” scenes, and helped to lighten the atmosphere a bit before Mike and I took the stage.
|It wasn't competely empty ... it just seemed that way sometimes.|
Attendance for our presentation was less than what we hoped for; check that – it was WAY less - although I guess if you count the mariachi players you could say we had a decent showing. However, for as anxious as I was beforehand, once we started talking about the book and running, the whole experience was actually more enjoyable than I had anticipated.
I presented a slideshow of images - most of them taken directly from this website – called “Running in Steinbeck Country.” As I began to describe the timeless beauty of this area, the stories that took place here long before my arrival, and the appreciation I have both for this land and the people who occupy it, I settled into something approaching comfort. (Although considering the circumstances, that’s still a pretty strong word; perhaps “I no longer wanted to crawl under the table” is more accurate.)
Obviously the two of us don’t measure up to Steinbeck any more than we do to Olympic-caliber runners – however, in both cases, lack of world-class talent doesn’t diminish our enjoyment of either activity. I enjoy writing, I love running, and as long as I can continue to do both of them in some form or another, I’ll consider it one of life’s greatest blessings.
*The Running Life is now available for $16 from our dedicated book webpage.
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