Cold made its way into the morning. Finally. Two of us took to the roads in the dark. We talked training. We talked guy stuff. We shared our preferences for angrier music, the happy pop not fitting our slightly deranged view of the world. I found it comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one who still appreciated the Sex Pistols, although, my expertise paled in comparison to my running partner’s punk rock acumen. He did show his age, a few years ahead of my own, when he offered to let me borrow his copy of “Spunk.”

With that run done and the sun rising, we headed to the fields for a cross country-styled 5K organized by another friend and populated by a bunch of people we all mostly know. My plan was to chill, take it easy on the course, and simply enjoy the time. Like Goggins in Las Vegas and with “Anarchy” blaring on a loop in my head, I took off with a goal to catch the Mennonite woman running up ahead in their bonnets and dresses. Ego is a strange thing and mine was hooked to an adrenaline pump as I pushed harder than I have in many years. We caught the nattily clad runners and for the rest of the way, I ran scared of being passed from behind.

The community theme of the race was exhibited at the finish line. No egos, no trash talking, only the support for each runner as they finished. Times didn’t really matter. Places, either. Hanging with all my friends at the finish lines was awesome. The sun was out, the warmth everywhere, the angry music out of my head.

Thanks, y’all.

Seen in their natural habitats, animals exhibit their truest behaviors. They forget the responsibility for insuring the success of the herd and look only to protect themselves. Think of the teacher with closets full of supplies while the rest turn to funding sites to beg in a socially acceptable way for markers, erasers, paper, or scissors. Think of the teachers who see the classroom as their personal domain, as if it is an extension of their homes, so much so that they are put out when a transient is assigned to their classroom for a period or two.

Maybe it would be good if some kind of animal whisperer came into contact with these egocentrically inclined professionals. The trainer could show them the good of building strong relationships with other members of the pack. Their enlightened ways might help them share some of their resources or maybe even knock stressfulness down a level or two. Of course, the truest habits of an animal comes out in the most natural environments.

Old dogs, new tricks?

A student looked rushed to get to class. I often offer hall passes to students when they are late, especially when they look as stressed as this young person did.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Late,” he replied.

“Do you want a pass?” I asked.

“No, nobody’s gonna mess with a kid who has cancer.”

I was caught off guard. He went his way. I went mine.

Some things are bigger than being late for third period, huh?

The Student-Athletes

Your PAELLA plan says:

Watch the webinar, “Player Responsibilities”

Kids want to play,
Sports are about competing,
The field narrows to players,
Only the best get to be the competitors.

Coaches will yell,
Coaches will play the best,
Coaches will do what they think right,
Players, shut up and be a part of that team.

The Dawson Family

Your PAELLA plan says:

  • You must watch the webinar “The Fungus Among Us”
  • Write an essay about the risks associated with unsanitary protesting conditions.

The point is,
That like your precious mushrooms,
Your role in this protest
Was unsanitary from the beginning
Leaving your house unable to grow properly.
Once you have written the essay,
Sit in a hot sauna
And attempt to cook the impurities
From your narrow-minded souls.

The Thomson Family

Your PAELLA plan says:

Personal gain is not without pain…

  • Watch the webinar, “Opinions Have Consequences…For Better or Worse”
  • Explain to your patients and clients the importance of positivity in the promotion of fitness, health, and sports.
  • Launch a sidewalk seminar series inviting the public to help promote support for the coaching staffs at Taylorville High School.

Ralph Higgonbothem (Taylorville School Superintendent)

At first, I didn’t know they were there,
About one hundred students,
Standing in front of my house,
Blocking the street,
But totally silent.

They just stood there,
No chanting,
No yelling,
Absolute quiet.
It was weird.

I blew them off.
If any of them had gotten on my yard,
I would have called the cops,
I will not be intimidated by children,
They don’t know what is going on with this problem.

They’re just kids, feh.

Taylor Family

Our businesses are suffering,
More like wilting,
People won’t list with me anymore
People aren’t buying my flowers anymore

Pearce Family

Not you guys too?
Your family has been in this town
As long as ours.
Are you quitting our protest?

Taylor Family

We’ve got to look out for our businesses,
We are suffering and for what,
New coaches, old coaches, whoever, whatever.
It’s killing us.

Pearce Family

I guess the squeaky ones get everything
Those parents are causing mayhem
We were the group standing up to sports.
Now we are whimpering away. It’s bull.

The law is the law,
For most of us, anyway,
And given I’m a one of most of us,
You’re actions put me in
A precarious place.

Your rage at losing a nothing game
Was shocking.
Your body posture when I tried to talk with you
Was scary.
So, I followed the law.

I reported you to the proper people
Because you seemed out of control,
In distress, and
Referencing a struggle to stay
Out of harm’s way.

Perhaps that will end our relationship,
But I followed my duty.
More than that, though,
I followed my conscience
Out of true concern for your safety.