Why are we here? Such a complex question, huh? I wrestle to find an answer and even though I just learned to drive a John Deere tractor, I know there is much more than the rest of what I have going on. That’s not to say that my life is unhappy or in some way lacking, but is work, eat, sleep all there is?

A Little History…

I’ve written about running before. The crib version goes like this: I grew up hating to run. As an adult, I started running because it was cheap. I began running marathons for complex social reasons. I quit running because the social stuff sort of simplified. Now I’m running again and I think I like it.

Marathon running was an escape. I don’t think I ever had any purpose in my running beyond getting away from the aggravation of life. I signed up for marathons unaware of the charities they supported. It was just something to do that was away from where I was then.

That being said, “I’m training for a marathon again.”

Before people get worried, I’m not running away from anything like I did last time around.

So What’s Going On?…

This time I’m running with purpose. Vanity, in the guise of improving my health, is the first. A classmate from high school commented that our hoops team could have used my “size” back in the day. He meant nothing by it and I thought I took nothing by it, but the truth is I took it the same way as my son calling me a whale back in the late 90s. As John Milton said, “Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.” I shouldn’t care how I look, but when I think about the effect of not exercising and my increasing waist line, I can’t help but get up off the couch.

Goal Number 1: Whittle my weight down to 200-pounds…

The goal is realistic, but it will take some serious effort on the eating front. I began toying with the idea of running a marathon back in the summer. To help, I also started modifying how I eat and saw great results on the weight loss front. I beat Halloween away and then the time change came around. Since then, I’ve had a hard time keeping true to my plan. Oh well, it’s part of the process, right?

The second purpose is just because. I want to see if I can. Back in the day I ran angry. There was such a negative energy to what I was doing that I’m not sure I realized any true health benefits from all those miles. My life is right where I want it and the nagging thought of past running foibles bugs me enough to want to put a period on that part of my life. The irony of it all is that running is the tool that I’m using to bridge unhappy and happy. I lost too much back then and I’ve allowed running to be a casualty of those times. Not now because I am happy and despite what I’ve written previously, I think I’ve always like running.

Goal Number 2: Run a marathon by April 8, 2017.

There are plenty of marathons out there to choose from, but I just don’t feel like driving anywhere to run one, so I’m going to do my own marathon. The race won’t show up on web sites or running store flyers and there will only be one contestant, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a cause. I have been given permission to run “my race” at my local YMCA. The Y has an indoor track (16 laps/mile, 419.2 laps=26.2 miles). That’s my race. I have an old school counter and I’m rounding up the race distance to 420 laps. Hopefully, I’ll finish between 4-4.5 hours and that will be that.

Goal Number 3: Raise some money for “organizations…”

Besides the running, I am hoping to raise some funds. I’m not much for soliciting help for causes, so I’m keeping this low key. First, I’m donating “a registration fee” amount to my local YMCA. They did not ask, but I love the Y and want to do right by them. If you would like to support my effort to help out the Y, the information is below.

But…

This is a personal cause of mine and I think the true purpose of this run is to find what it important for me. The Kennett YMCA might not be your thing, but there are other causes that are just as worthwhile. Giving to an organization that means more to you would be an equally appreciated way to support me on this journey.

Moving Forward…

Each week until I get to the “marathon” I am going to put a post on the blog about the week’s training. You know, so I can feel good about what I’ve done. There is a certain amount of ego in running and you know what I mean. Seriously, at a party get stuck talking to a runner. We are the worst. I’ll also remind people of the purpose of my journey and hopefully kick start someone on their fitness journey. Seriously, though, I think quite a bit when I run and there is always something to write about there. Finally, I’ll gently ask you to make a donation to a charity, but I’ll keep this subtle.

Thank you for your support with my blog and good luck with finding the reasons for why we are here. They are so elusive…

Pre-training Stats:

Running Laps: 731
Walking Laps: 160
Squats: 140
Lunges: 72 (How much do these su, I mean, hurt?)
Hip Raises: 40 (I need to do more of these.)
Calf Raises: 35

Longest Run: 6-miles

To donate to the Kennett Area YMCA use the following link:

ymcagbw.org

Why do those who love to help
Assume that those they want to help
Actually want the help?

Charity, boosters, providers of whatever
Have a place in doing good, but
Are their efforts always well meaning?

Some people don’t want the help.
Some people don’t want to help.
Some people just want to be.

Maybe charity or advocacy must come
From the one needing whatever it is
To ask for those with the skills of service.

Don’t take this wrong do gooders
You are vital and necessary.
Only slow down, be sure you are wanted.

Maybe it was Horace Pippin or Bayard Rustin,
Maybe it was neither,
Who talked about the condescending benevolence
Of “do gooders” looking to help
Disenfranchised people.

It was probably Pippin
Since the book was about a famous art family
And written in the context of friends
Helping friends get ahead
In sheltered worlds.

Worlds, though,
They do not seem so far apart
As the day men made it to the moon
A tiny story of compassion
Seemed sadly similar to Pippin. Or Rusin…

It was about a women in Michigan
Who spoke from her exclusive golf club,
Complete with a “women’s only” bar
Painted in feminine pastels,
Of her generosity to her maid.

“I give my maid clothes and stuff like that.
It’s pathetic; those children don’t have enough
clothes to go to school. They’re human beings
and I don’t go for that-them having to
live THAT WAY.”

She was quoted as the charitable chartreuse
In the New York Times back in 1969
As wars in Vietnam and on poverty
Ravaged the moral fabric
Of the United States.

The maid was probably at work
Cleaning for this well to do martini sucking woman,
Making a meager salary that
Did not make her ends meet, and then
Being gifted with the stuff her boss didn’t want.

I wonder if she felt like she was going through the trash
Picking at the throw aways
To give her kids the appearance some under paying
Rich lady, who was drinking after playing golf,
Thought they should have while attending school.

How about a better salary rich lady?
Instead of donating so much cash on your kids,
How about buying them a little less
So you could pay your employee
A salary she could live on?

How about it rich people?
Instead of spending so much on nothing
How about making the stuff you make affordable
So more people can survive
On the scraps y’all are paying?

Just a thought…

_MG_6259

Each night his daughter
Sat in his lap
While he read the paper.
She mostly looked at the pictures
Asking little kid questions
That he gave little kid answers to,
After all, this was the New York Times.
She did learn some words, though,
“Don’t forget the neediest,”
Being the ones she recognized most.

“That means that we should help
Those who don’t have as much
As we do, honey,” he explained.

One day they walked the streets,
A man in tattered clothes
And smelling of despair
Held out his hand asking for charity.
The father pulled his daughter along
Giving the man nothing but disdain
To which his daughter
Began to question
With a child’s  insistent simplicity,
“What is it, honey?” he asked.

“Don’t forget the neediest, Daddy.”

Photo: By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (The Hand) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Buying houses with a flip in mind
A pair if real estate profiteers
Got taken instead
Their profit margin yielding
To a sense of morality
Often lacking in the markets

Their purchase, a simple home
South Philly way, yo,
A tomb to an American hero departed
Waiting to become part of the investment machine, but
Living to become Charity’s best asset
By breathing comfort into a veteran’s life
Disabled by War’s horrors

These two investors moved by the home’s history
Perhaps touched by the spirit of Wild Bill himself
Paid premium for the future home
Of another vet who would be afforded some comfort
After serving whatever inane conflict
Man seems hellbent on conjuring

Such a complex turn
To the practice of profit…
Here, with brotherly love alive,
Flipping a house has
Given a noble example of
Who we can be

“People are basically good,”
I heard in a TED Talk
About a man
Disputing the reasoned opinion
That people are essentially “no good”

And in this case
The spoils of war
Have given credence
To his words

It’s in us
To do good.

Times must be tough
At the other end of the salary schedule
For the line between
Prosperity, charity, and dumb luck
Was amplified
So that even my
Tired eyes could see clearly

The morning started
In the usual way
With me gathering myself
For a day of teaching
The locker room airing out
With a good year end venting

A group of educator hockey recreators
Came in to shower before class
One tapped on my office glass

“Hey, are these yours,” he asked
Like a kid finding a toy

He was holding a pair
Of Sombas
With more than a little wear
The wrinkles creased deeply
Into the leather

“Nope.”

“They were in the shower. They’re my size!”

“Oh.”

With that
He walked away
Almost like he had them on
Already

Sure he was happy
With a pair of discarded kicks
But I wondered if they
Would be better served
In the charity bin
For old shoes in the lobby

(Unsolicited Advice Coming)

Young man with such luck
Your stature is well enough
To buy your own
How happy would someone with less be
Were they able
To shod their feet
At all