Coronavirus has everything going crazy. It’s bad and there is no but to it. In addition to the health consequences we are facing, the economic impact will be harsh. Let’s hope that each person does his/her/their part to curb the spread of the virus. And then, let’s hope that businesses, banks, landlords, and whoever else needs money can do their part to help the economy recover. Wouldn’t it be great if this was not politicized, monetized, self-aggrandized, and manipulated so that only a few make out on the deal. Getting people to wash their hands will be easier.
“To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks a various language.” William Cullen Bryant
“America has always been a country of DDDDDD and ddddd behaviors.” Steven Almond
This post is the culmination of many influences. It started several days ago with a walk on a hot summer day. It’s been assaulted with intellectual thoughts brought by podcasts. The words were given their genesis in my upbringing. And finally, they represent a suffering to get them written. So here, goes…
David Goggins is a man who has served in the toughest branches of the military. He also is a badass when it comes to fitness. I’ve only recently been introduced to his particular philosophies regarding exercise, but I think his ideas about getting in shape are less about the physical and more about emotional/mental fitness. Goggins suggests that we experience “suffering” to understand what we are capable of. The suffering is a sign that we are strong, that we have the ability to persevere, and if we are able to survive those moments of dread, fear, or dropping confidence, we can achieve our personal greatness.
I share that because I am writing this post under those ideas. I am using Flowstate a program that forces the writer to keep going for if I take too long of a break between words, I will lose everything. I set the time for thirty-minutes, a time that I have never attempted. I will be suffering, I’m sure, but hopefully, the post reflects a true accounting of my walk the other day.
About the walk. I’ve been involved with sports and fitness my entire life, as an athlete, recreationally and professionally within the sports and fitness industry spectrum. Lately, and I am guessing over the last ten years, I have been less committed to working out and it shows. I’m taking on that middle-aged paunch and feeling the effects of a lack of exercise when I walk up the stairs around my office. I have fought the laze from time to time, but I’ve never been able to commit to keeping things regular.
The walk was day one.
I left my neighborhood with a goal of three to five miles at a comfortable pace. I plugged into a podcast featuring Jamelle Hill, an ESPN writer/commentator and hit the road. Ms. Hill is an exceptional writer. She is also a person who is unafraid to call things as she sees them. With her candor, she has been caught in some controversies that have not necessarily worked out in her favor, but they revolved around important issues, so she is okay with the consequences.
My walk took me through my modest middle-class condo neighborhood, up a hill into a higher middle-class single-family home neighborhood, through a fifty-five and older community that is spotted with plenty of Mercedes cars of various classes, and ultimately onto the main drag the leads from my small, socially confused town.
Standing at the intersection of the roads leading into and out of town, had me thinking about the path through affluence I had taken. It had me thinking about the marginal path of comfort I had lived. It got me thinking that not everyone had the same opportunities that I have been afforded simply due to the color of our skin at birth.
With that, I made a hard left onto Ways Lane to see if I could work my way up to five miles. The podcast was over and one of my favorite singers came on, Bruce Hornsby, The Way It Is, and as you are reading this you’re thinking, “no way,” but rest assured that’s how it went.
There are two buildings at the top of the long hill that is Ways Lane. On the right side in the Boy Scout’s hall. It looks like an old school or church. There are three large windows on each side, a sagging roof over the addition in the back, and one of the most industrial doors I had seen in some time. On the left is the stone Italian American Social Club. There is ample parking and fine picnic space behind with a covered porch and a cabana separated by nearly twenty-five picnic tables.
Curiously, I noticed that through a thin line of trees behind the cabana, there is a financial management company that is full of cash. They often contribute to causes they deem worthy, but the parking lot, with its high-end cars, did well to hide behind the trees for as I passed the first two buildings, the scenery began to change.
Next on the tour was a barely functioning tractor-trailer repair shop. On this day, all of the bays were closed and all of the junker tractors in the lot were open and rusting. Next was a hovel of old houses packed onto a clean lot. Some of the houses were adapted from old mushroom houses and the biggest house was in the greatest disrepair. Its glassed-in front porch sported cracks and missing panes, while the front door had cardboard tapped over its window.
Again, curiously, directly across the street was a new mushroom growing facility. The clean cinder block, shiny HVAC units, and giant electrical converters showed that this farm was state of the art and it seemed to me an insult to the people living in the ramshackle that was across the street.
Finally, I made it to the bottom of the hill and saw where all of the old mattresses and couches go when the sanitation companies won’t pick them up. They go on tracks that once brought people to my home town. Now, it’s just freight trains passing through.
I turned and made the walk in reverse. I talked to my voice memo app with anger and the differences in the classes all over. I got angry thinking that this one street is marginalized because of the people who live there, because of the work they do, because of the location of their homes. My angst didn’t pass as I passed through the affluence back to my house.
It was a walk of suffering, a suffering of realizing that “me” is the prevailing attitude everywhere, yet, there are so many who don’t really have a chance for no reason other than they are able to get communion with the rest of nature.
We can do better.
Today, two friends gave me notebooks from the early 1900s that have notes and observations written in the most sloppy handwriting ever. I am going to attempt to decipher the notes and see if there is a story there. Suppose that this is some sort of major invention that came to make life easier. I’m guessing without having started that the chemist was working on something for transportation or the military because one of the only words I recognized right away was “rubber.” I have no idea, though, only curiosity and my own notebook and observations to figure it out.
Remember when age was supposed to be full of wisdom. The idea that life experiences help people make wise decisions has been accepted throughout history. Tonight another old and supposedly wise person started shooting rockets into the sky. He was avenging the death of his boy at the hands of another country. The trigger happy leader will cost many people their lives, just the same as the equally egotistical leader who started the mess by ordering the initial hit. Anymore wars are eternal pissing contests that never end. When will people learn that ego exposes their worst? I’m guessing never.
Here goes again, the phone is off this time and I’m trying to write about the meaning of music as a life force, my son, and how a YouTube channel took advantage of my liquored up ways.
First, my son has a belief, as any decent musician might, that music and its rhythms are the truest embodiment of time and it serves as a life-force like no other. I suppose his idea could be debated, but I have little in the way of conflicting evidence, mostly because I just appreciate theories, unless of course, they serve to oppress people. I have no time for that. I’m willing to go along with my son’s idea since at every stressful turn in my life music has been there to comfort my ragged ass.
Insert: Hornsby, Neko Case, Wilco, Clapton, you see what I mean…
Truth is, I turn to music as therapy. Once, I tried to “make” music, but I quickly found that my understanding of the whole thing is not even on a scale of whatever it takes to make music. I would rather be inspired by the sounds that others make, taking their energy to my heart, to my soul, to my limbic brains, and doing with their output whatever the vibe provides.
I think that is my natural way.
After spending a morning with my son and debating whether music is life, I played devil’s advocate and claimed exercise (and physicality) as the true expression of who we are, I happened upon magic elixirs from Kentucky and Mexico. The spinning effects of hydration brought me to Flowstate just after my first time with “Playing for Change” on YouTube. It was crazy.
I’m a big Keb Mo’ fan and the sight of him playing in a video with a bunch of international musicians took me to another place. I was lost in the recuperation from marital discord and the more than balancing reverberation that was finding true love. I thought of all those nights when “Muddy Water” would allow me to sleep soundly in a downtrodden apartment wondering WTF was happening to my life only to awake to STP and the hope that I would get back to a “Wicked Garden” before I became the old guy at the bar.
Now, as I sit under the influence and free of the trappings of responsibility listening to a new artist, Twanguero, I am again feeling the weight of life. This time it is not heavy. It is content in a way that is motivational, emotional, and enriching. Seeing Keb and all those others singing “standards” took me somewhere I have not been in a long time.
To a rawness…
Just out there.
And it felt good. It’s so important to let go, to let the guard down, to just be. This day, with its heavy thinking, its distracting hydration, and its infusion of the life-force that music may or may not provide (running does the same thing, Kyle…) has been a welcome influence on this soul.
Last night, a friend of mine called me a POX which is different from a COX in terms of anatomical references and existential ownership of pride and masculine adolescent judgments. I could not accept the put down, sorry hash taggers, my ego does not accept that kind of ridicule and instead of tweeting, suing, or going to some dreary chain coffee shop and crying into a latte, I maturely came back at him with a, “Your Mom,” and set out on a plan to prove him I can be every bit of COX.
I woke to temperatures that were hovering around two-degrees, which is nothing to brag about since it was way worse than that further north. Still, though, I had never run in temperatures below the teens. Today would be different, I ran, on a gimpy calf dang-it, and alone at that. I listened to my leg, wondered about my breath freeze, and even managed to smile a couple of times. It wasn’t too bad and since there wasn’t a wind, I never worried about frostbite.
As I finished the run, I could tell something is different with me. It’s those uncommon thoughts that I’ve been saturated by lately. Getting out there and being in the game and actually living has allowed me to be a COX and not a POX. Sure there is a little stupidity in running under the weather and physical conditions I’m living with right now, but it sure felt good to be called foolish by those who have motivated me to get off my duff and stick with running. After all, what’s a COX without balls? In this group, that would be a fitness eunuch, I suppose. Perhaps, ePOX would be appropriate there.
This month I’ve been exploring my relationship to apathy. I suppose I do care about a lot of stuff, more so than I thought, anyway. My grumpiness about things annoying are probably not about apathy, maybe more like boredom or insecurity. I don’t know which yet, but that’s what 2019 is all about, finding an understanding about the inner workings of this COX, the potential therein, and the journey of reclaiming a soul.
Alright, it was just a run in really cold air. Nothing too enlightening… Or was it?…
Hey, Tattoo Buddha, I got my run in. Meow…
Thank you to everyone who stopped by this my this year. The bulk of the posts went to a group of unhappy characters in the fictional town of Taylorville as I attempted to complete a challenge from my daughter to write a verse novel with one post each day. I ended up with 365-poems, but I didn’t follow her rules all of the time. I’m betting she didn’t follow all of my rules through the years either…
I also published a verse novel called, “Mothers Forever.” The process of self-publishing a book was exciting and frustrating. You can find the book at all of the online retailers, so buy a copy for yourself, buy a copy for your family members, and buy lots of copies for your friends… So ends the shameless plug…
There were more visitors to the blog than ever before. Hopefully, the posts were entertaining. Again, thank you for stopping by.
The new year will be another “themed” year. I’ve been interested in revisiting some of the research skills from my dissertation days and doing a “study.” I’ve given myself informed consent and will be exploring my relationship with apathy, goal commitment, and self-efficacy while setting out to run a couple of marathons and lose a few stubborn pounds. The blog posts will include the normal fare of poetry and photography, but I am also going to write a few non-fiction articles and share the results of my “study” as the year progresses. If all goes to plan, the creative side will enhance the “life hack” side and the year will be a success.
Then again, maybe I shouldn’t have any expectations. They are so limiting.
As always, please comment as you see fit and have a great year!
In my later years of schooling, I became a better student. Part of my maturation was the understanding that it was my responsibility to make learning meaningful. My teachers could not teach me. My coaches did not coach me. My professors were there as guides. It was me who was the learner. I was the one who made all of those people’s lessons important or not.
It wasn’t my parents.
It wasn’t a politician.
It wasn’t my teachers, coaches, or professors, either.
I was the sole determinant as to whether I was going to understand, appreciate, and apply all of the lessons those mentors (less the politicians) put before me. I think I began to understand that near the end of high school. There are bits of my academic life in high school that stand out, but I was too immature and entitled to understand how my inability to make school a priority was something that might hurt me later in life.
And who was there to bail me out?…
Not my parents.
That sounds harsh and it should not. I thank my parents for allowing me to succeed and fail on my own volition. They were never at school when I got bad grades. In their way, they let me know that I would regret not doing better and they could rest assured that they were correct. They were never in a coach’s face (email had not been invented yet) when I didn’t get as much playing time or as much water as I thought I should have gotten. They never compared my placement on a team with any other player, nor sought to rationalize my status on a team with any perceived feelings the coaches might have had about me or my family. They were great that way.
They let me create my successes and helped me celebrate the big stuff.
They also let me feel the pain of my failures and taught me to take personal responsibility for them.
I never made it far as an athlete. I had an average high school career in two sports and an ego-deflating failure in another. It’s funny, but the third, which was my worst, is the only one I still pursue nearly thirty-five years later. Running is more about me being true to myself than anything and I was a terrible runner at seventeen. All these years later, I’ve learned more about patience, commitment, and competition for running that I ever did playing baseball or basketball. Still, though, I got to pitch in a couple of college baseball games and the writing was on the wall…or maybe it was the stitches of the baseballs as they got knocked around the park. I was not an athlete.
That was a hard pill to swallow because so much of my life was wrapped up in sports. Without the lessons my parents gave me about moving on and not spending too much time in a funk, I was able to get on with the business of being the best me that I could become. I’m training for my twelfth marathon, have earned a doctorate in education, published a book of poetry, and most importantly, am one part of a great family.
I’m not in the business of giving advice, okay, maybe I am since I teach and coach, but it is time for us (the adults) to allow students to fail. We have to teach them that they are responsible for their successes and failures. We can guide them through the pitfalls of life, but each of us must face the realities of our experiences with the skills to survive and the dignity to own our station.
I just left the beach where I experienced a margarita (or more) induced nap and I’m sitting on the couch after a cold shower and I can feel the heat of the day leaving my body. A Vornado fan that has served me well for over a year is doing its best to copy the changing winds from the shore. Dessert came first, tonight, a hunk of Rocky Road fudge with LA Women, the whole album blasting through headphones. I’ve got my head back wishing for a dark, dirty honky tonk to put them down and end this perfect day.