Total Exile, Roads and Stuff

Article by Chris Chadburn

Hello! As some of you may be aware, I'm going to do a silly ultramarathon from Macclesfield to Sheffield to raise money for SPEAK. As part of the whole fundraising shebang I've been writing a blog about running and stuff which you can find right here: What follows is a summary of my latest post, the unsnappily titled 'The Road From Exile.'


What I want to explore in this post is the concept of exile as a type of lived experience, one most succinctly defined as being the opposite of 'the feeling of being at home'. A person who feels at home feels a sense of harmony with her environment; One who feels exiled feels alienated from it. To the exile the environment feels cold, harsh, dangerous and hostile.

It sometimes occurs that a person comes to feel exiled as a result of her possessing a belief that she regards as being uncommon or unpopular. Should she percieve that the expression of her belief would be met with hostility from those within her sociocultural environment, this may lead to her feeling the kind of antagonism between herself and that environment that forms the essence of the feeing of exile.

It seems therefore as if we will occasionally be faced with a most unpleasant choice: Either abandon our unpopular belief, act as if we did not possess it, or face exile. Distance running can help reduce the apparent unpleasantness of this choice by provding a means by which we can come to terms with exile. By running from our homes out into the inhospitable wild and back we both voluntarily impose upon ourselves some of the harsh conditions of exile and successfully employ the means by which they are overcome.

By making it our will to be exiled in this way we accept exile as a price we are willing to pay for the benefits we receive from runnning. This functions as a symbolic act by which we accept the burden of exile in our wider lives. By making our way out of the wilderness we assure ourselves of our power to face and overcome the sorrows of exile through movement. In the case of our runs this is literal movement; in other cases of exile the movement required is of the metaphorical type that people refer to when they speak of 'moving on with one's life'.

It is important to note that emerging from exile does not necessarily involve a return to the conditions of one's previous experience. One can just as easily overcome exile through finding a home in something new. 'The Long Road Home' does not necessarily lead to an old home.

To support Chris on his crazy length run, you can donate here now. Thank you for every penny you feel that you can give