It’s not often I dream anymore,
Not of the corporeal,
Not of the surreal,
Not at all.
The days of the dreaming,
The nights of the dreaming,
They just don’t seem to enter my mind,
Awake
Or
Asleep.

I wonder if it’s all over,
The excitement,
The uncertainty,
The causes,
Purpose
And
Practice.

Yet today, under a gray sky
My mind went wild,
Playing a cinema as I took a siesta,
One where the drama of man
Waged war against itself
As I documented its inhumanity
Without fear for my life.
I awoke to the idea of more,
More than work,
I was all too aware, however,
Of the danger in dreams,
Corporeal, surreal, or whatever their form.

A young man’s life has passed
Leaving opportunity to wasted time.
There are no revolutions to experience,
No adrenaline pumping scenarios,
No more.
There aren’t any stories of danger,
Adventures where survival was in doubt,
Where luck played a part.

Now the dreams are about paying for health care,
What to do when the lease is up,
Where to go after retirement,
And I’m scared.
I’m still young, able, wanting of excitement
Beyond this shitty lemonade margarita and
Comfortable suburban lifestyle
I have accepted as my way.
Protest, passion, play,
They don’t stop when the wrinkles arrive,
So why should the dreams?

I would love to know El Salvador,
Compton, Uganda.
I wonder if I could have survived
A career as a journalist, a night at CBGBs, or summer in Alaska.
What if I had just said eff it,
Where would I be now?
Chances not taken = chances missed…

Perhaps it was fear,
Perhaps duty,
Always a misguided perception
That there was a pattern to living,
One where the safety of it all
Is the way it is supposed to be.
True, after a point, but
A fallacy of a blueprint.
There was more,
There is more,
These morsels of life that I’m nibbling on
Only frustrate me when I hear what others have done,
Experienced,
The danger, the uncertainty, the courting of both
Where life, purpose, and meaning
Put away any thought of dreaming.

Because it is how it is,
It is the way they made it.

Perhaps today is a new beginning.
Maybe the cockles of my adventure seeking self
Will finally come to life.
Should it be,
I hope I am ready,
For a dream such as the one I had today
Will not burn forever.

Go, Hanee,
There is more out there.

“And once you cease to be a real person, you stop being a real person.” Scott Speedman

Who hides behind the mask?
The one unsure of who she is.
What need does a mask play?
Serving to advertise a fading image.
Where does the mask come from?
A catalog, chain store, or Amazon.
When does the mask come off?
In private.
Why mask your true personality?
To hide the pain of insecurity.

Call upon confidence to be true
Real is better than fake
For the trappings of the imaginary you
Makes for pits filled with snakes
Or at least the unintended interpretations
Of the false advertising
So blatantly hocked by your ever-changing masks,
Denial, and unavoidable journey through the ages.
Let yourself be real,
Authentic.

“I challenge myself to stop comparing what I learn to the past.” Scott Belsky

So long ago, really only about ten years,
Time was the enemy, a relentless opponent
Who stood as an obstacle to success.
The ticking drummed a beat
Easily infecting many things that I attempted to do,
Running being the one
Most severely affected.

Time counts for basketball,
Or even the laconic sports of baseball and golf,
Never pressured me to rush,
Never encouraged me to feel put upon,
They just were and I knew how to relax into their rhythms.
Running was not that way,
Time was to be defeated.

Only nobody beats time,
As time is the endurance athlete that keeps going.
It’s the one whose hair never grays,
Muscles never fatigue,
For whom competitiveness reigns supreme.
No amount of effort,
No quantity of performance enhancement,
Nothing slows time down. Eventually, it will win.

Goals of the present
Should not be based on goals of the past.
Moments are now,
This is the time.
Remembering what once was,
A dinner, crazy intimacy, or a magic run
Is the stuff of folly.
For those types of thoughts
Leave a person in the past
Only to be passed…no crushed, by time.

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Here’s another in the recapturing youth saga…

For the last twenty or so years,
The only power rush I’ve felt in sports
Is going to the driving range,
Taking out the big stick, and
Letting loose with every bit of power
Without regard for GPS or
Innocent bystanders down range.

That feeling of nothing
When the club hits the ball square
Is about as close to, well, that
A middle-aged man can get
Without actually getting there.
As the ball lifts into the stratosphere
There’s just an excitement punctuated by supreme calm.

Hitting a baseball is a lot like that,
Or so I remember
As it has been more than half my life
Since I got to wave the big stick
At a pitcher.
Today, however, I got the chance
To get in the box and take some batting practice.

The first swing was right out of the eye doctor’s chair,
All Lasik, cataract surgery, and what’s going on in left field.
At fifty, it was more than a little embarrassing, but
Undeterred, I laughed, dug in a little, and
Readied for the next pitch,
A hard ground ball
Easily fielded by the third baseman.

Something happened after that,
Muscle memory?
Pride?
Blind man’s luck?
For as the head coach would say,
“You started hitting piss rockets.”
I love baseball vernacular.

What he meant
Was that the ball was jumping off the bat.
Certainly, he was grooving pitches, but
Instead of dribblers and pop-ups,
I hit line drives off the screen
Going back up the middle
With that driving range rush.

Let the record show that I am aware
Of the relative nature of my modest accomplishment today.
Also, let the court stenographer read that
A couple of the liners were legit
Even in the batting practice environment
Of a high school optional outing
When the pitches were like Dave Crowder’s phat buttered ducks.

Pitching and hitting,
These last couple of weeks sure has been fun.
I probably don’t have any eligibility left and
Very few years where I’d want to get out there and play.
I guess now it’s time
To get back on the range because
I sure like smacking that ball around.

 

Photo Credit: Flickr.com via Google Images

The issue of mortality came up today
One a light-hearted experience
In the game of youth.
The other the fragility of life
On the stage of getting old.

Practice found my team going inter-squad
With the head coach pitching.
He fired that ball like a twenty-six-year-old
And I watched with wide-eyed hope
That I’d have the balls to get up there and throw.

Sure enough, he tired after all those pitches
And signaled for some relief.
His eyes were on the screen and moving the mound closer,
But I swung my arm a few times, gave Father Time the finger, and
Stepped up on the hill.

Let me say that this was the first time I had pitched
Since Clinton was President.
I was hoping to find the plate and let the guys
Smack the ball all over the place, but it was not to be.
I kind of pitched instead of throwing…finally, Jamal…

I felt like Satchel Paige,
Free and easy, just missing a curveball for strikes and
A change up of any kind,
So I lived on two different fastballs that weren’t very quick,
But found their spots just well enough to keep me safe.

Somewhere in there I noticed soreness in my glute,
That would be the lunges and the pitches starting to add up.
Finally, the game ended with me pretending to have more in me.
The reality was that I was tired and
Fresh from going at something from my youth.

While that went on,
My grandmother was way down south
Getting her first MRI
After a morning of spilling her breakfast and
Having a lack of motor control.

She had a stroke.
The care she received found everything to be minor,
But at ninety-five this was a jolt
For this woman, who lives with a flare
And denial of aging in general.

My grandmother is something between
Auntie Mame and Maude,
A woman of style and grace who demands manners
No matter how simple the gesture
And she is a lover of the gab so long as she is in control of the direction.

I love her and miss her.
As a kid, she used to cut iceberg sized piece of ice cream
And warn me about watching Starsky and Hutch or Fantasy Island.
She would listen to me recount every detail of James and the Giant Peach
While whipping up the best damned lasagna ever.

She is my grandmom and
I feel her fear.
I know she realizes that a stroke is bad.
I know she is scared for what comes next.
I know she has the strength for upcoming changes.

In her day
She rode bikes from Jamestown to Yorktown.
She flew kites at the battlefield.
She convinced a crowd of men conditioned to help her
That they better not while she managed the steep slope with her walker.

The latter being less than two months ago.
For all the style that my grandmother has
And for all the “flightiness” that was attributed to her
My grandmother is one strong woman
Who taught me that it’s okay to be who you are.

I wish we were closer today.
I’d tell her that it’s okay getting older.
We break down, can’t go on as long, or just want to sleep more,
But none of that matters.
How we live does, though. And she’s lived.

I believe my trip on the mound,
It’s denial of responsible behavior I’ve exhibited for the last twenty-five years,
Was inspired by my high-spirited grandmother.
While things get tougher the older we get,
There’s no reason to quit living.

So Grandmom, thanks for that cake, it was damn good.
I hope you know I’m with you.
And that book you told me about with the “listening fetus,”
I’m loving it.
I love you.,

This week of training sucked. Zero miles. The reality is setting in that I just don’t recover like a did back in my “yute.” I’ve had this pesky calf thing going on and there is one thing that sets it off like nothing else.

Basketball.

Hoops is similar to a person I know that I should not be around, but who’s draw is irresistible. You know that person, fun, exciting, and full of risk. That’s basketball for me. I love the sound of the ball echoing in the gym. I am intrigued by the chess-like movements of the players where misdirection and patience earn the best results. I bask in the test of will where the defense dictates what the offense is allowed to do. And always there is that sound.

But with all that bouncing and bounding, I seem to have developed a weakness in my kinematic chain that is exposed like a lead-footed player in open space. My left calf doesn’t want to cooperate with my basketball playing trysts and my duty to training for the marathon. I got on the court this week to help my players understand how to space the floor and how to move the ball for the easiest shot. A colleague once told me of my dalliance with CrossFit that, “a man your age should be walking.” Following this week of practice, I think he may be right.

Before sitting to write today, I took my pit bull out for a walk. He is nothing but powerful and when we run together it’s fast and over quickly. He’s more of a cheetah than a dolphin. We hit the first bite of arctic air this season and he gave me the “You’re kidding, right?” look. I said to him, “Do you want to run?” It was as if I hit the plunger on a load of dynamite. He bolted, firing each of his powerful muscles and we sprinted about 200 yards. The combination of soreness from basketball and running cold was too much of my irritable calf to handle. I felt the tightness and knew to stop right away.

It stinks because this has been going on now for a couple of months. If I do anything but run, my calf hurts. Then I can’t run. I have friends who are dealing with the same injury. They are also about my age. Hmmm… I have another friend who has torn both of his Achilles tendons playing basketball. He’s my age, too. Hmmm… Maybe my analytical brain should talk to my lovelorn heart and tell me to break up with basketball. A man my age might not be cut out for playing basketball the way my mind thinks I should play. I just can’t do the same things on the court I could do when I was thirty-five, twenty-five, or even fifteen. I play more like a five-year-old. I get open, but I can’t get to the rim anymore.

The question is, “What’s next?” I’m back on the “recovery” plan where I run a few laps and then stretch a lot. I’ll also get back to strengthening my gluteal muscles and hamstrings. I suppose I should revive the tedium of trying fix whatever flaws I have in my running technique. I’ll also start working in more cycling, Peloton, is pretty cool…expensive, but for a month that might be a good option for me. I’ll do the compression wraps and plenty of mobility exercises. With time my calf will calm down and I’ll be able to pick up the mileage again.

But I’ll be “jonesing” for basketball…

See you next week…

Note:

Thank you for reading about my little marathon journey. Remember, this is about finding purpose in the run. I also have a practical purpose of raising funds for charity. My charity is the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to donate to their fund, the link is below. However, any charity could benefit from a donation, so if you want to donate somewhere else, I’d love that just as much.

Kennett Area YMCA Donate