Ben Alderson-Day
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The Marathon Monk of Billingham
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In this chapter, the author explores the nature of loneliness and isolation, and what this might tell us about presence. He discusses the ultrarunner Paul Burgum’s experiences of feeling that a spirit had joined him on his epic run in Italy and suggests that this illustrates an important point: if you go seeking inspiration, actively looking for companions and putting yourself into states that blur the boundaries of self and other, you might not always get to choose what happens next. A presence could be invited in, but who or what they are isn’t always up to you – the process might even require you to give up that kind of control. And it might be shaped by others around you. This chapter expands on the complexity of presence.

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