When I was in college me and a roommate had a bit of a tradition, which I called Run And Brunch. There are two steps to Run And Brunch.
The first is to get as dirty, sweaty, and smelly as possible through some intense exertion. It doesn’t have to be through running, but that’s what we did. If you are running, this should be your long run of the week. Bonus points if the run is through muddy trails.
The second step is to eat at the nicest restaurant that budget will allow and that you think you can get away with. It doesn’t have to be on a Sunday or during brunch, but that is the ideal time and day. You want to arrive right with the church crowd.
The goal of Run And Brunch is to make yourself as out of place as possible. You want to get strange looks from the crowd, looks that say you don’t belong. In response you should laugh and stare back, secure in the knowledge that you belong much more than they ever could. That you earned this indulgence through sweat and trials while all they had to endure was another sermon.
On the surface Run And Brunch may seem like just a self indulgent exercise in being an ass in public. While that’s partially true, I do believe that it is also a useful exercise that can help prepare us to face the world on our own terms.
Don’t Let The Environment Dictate Your Actions
The above well known comic is typically seen as an example of hubris. Of refusing to see and respond to reality and to outside stimuli. While this is probably what the artist meant to convey, I see a possible alternative explanation for this dog’s seemingly irrational cool. Bare with me.
The environments we inhabit are becoming ever more artificial, and are being manufactured with an increasing level of sophistication. The platforms on which we communicate are engineered to addict us. Advertisers have an exponentially growing data set which they weaponize to implant thoughts and desires with surgical precision. Every bureaucracy you interface with has an agenda all its own. Whether through deliberate action or emergent principles, the environments we must navigate are designed to direct us down a specific path, which may not be aligned with our own interests or ideas of where we should be going.
Humans have gotten where we are largely through mimicry and our ability to adapt. We watch what others do and follow the example of those who don’t get eaten. We are extremely responsive to our environments. These traits can be all to easily be exploited in a world where our reality is mediated through a screen, half the people we interact with on said screen are Russian bots, and the rest are paid actors.
The dog in the comic is fine because he believes his environment is lying to him. He may or may not be right, but we must all gain the ability to scrutinize our environments as intensely as him and to trust ourselves enough to maintain composure while the outside world tells us to panic and be afraid.
Run And Brunch is a fun and low stakes exercise to cultivate the traits necessary to deny your environment the ability to dictate your actions. An easy way to declare to the world that they are in fact wrong and where the worst that can happen is being refused a table or politely asked to leave.