A friend and I were looking at a large project and he finally said, “Well, I guess we have to run the gamut.” I started to bring out the, “I do not think that means what you think it means” line but then I realized I don’t really know what a gamut is or how you run one. I know how to run a race, and lost pretty much every one I ever ran in school, partly because I never was that athletic and partly because I never really cared that much about getting from one end of the playground to the other faster than anyone else, although I did build up quite a nice collection of participation ribbons. I distinctly remember that when my school held field days where we spent the entire day outside doing various sports that the ribbons for first place were blue, second were red, third were yellow, and the participation ribbons were green which I not only thought was a nicer color but they were easier to collect because all I had to do was take part. And eventually I learned I didn’t even have to do that. There was always an adult walking around with a handful of green ribbons and all I had to do was ask them for one or, if they weren’t looking, grab half a dozen.
I know how to run a marathon although I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll ever run one. It’s much more likely that I’ll walk one, and I know from experience that I can average a rate of a mile about every fifteen minutes. That would mean I could complete a marathon in a little over six and a half hours, which is respectable even if it’s not going to set any records, although the rate I recorded is from my time on a treadmill where the terrain almost never changes. Since marathons cover more than twenty-six miles there’s bound to be variation, as well as some hills, and I should also probably do some training. I don’t want to end up like Philippides, the original marathon runner, who died at the finish line before he could even get a participation ribbon.
I also know how to run a program. Well, I think I do anyway. Most of the time I can start a program, especially if it’s something like Word, but those don’t seem to run so much as just sit there waiting for me to start typing. There are other programs I’m told are always running in the background and I’m not sure I want to know what they’re doing even though they probably know too much about what I’m doing.
Sometimes I’ll run an idea by someone else but mostly when I have an idea I’ll take it and run with it.
Anyway I finally looked up “gamut” and usually it means the complete range of notes in a scale, which my friend, who’s a singer, should have known, and, as a writer, he also should have known the common metaphorical phrase “to run the gamut” means to go through the whole range of something, so I guess he was correct. It still sounds odd to me since I’m used to hearing it in the past tense, once someone has run the gamut, but this is just a roundabout explanation of why our plans never went anywhere.