Man, things hit me hard today,
Not in an injurious way,
Not at all like that,

The summer got back into my groove,
Phish took over,
Not some quick hitters,
The long, one song commute kind of songs,
Aided with the repeat button,
So all I heard was the massaging sounds
Of the Jersey Shore.

Man, things hit me hard today,
Not in an injurious way,
Not at all like that,

Spinning got back into my groove,
Sweat took over,
When a Willem Dafoe lookalike
Taught the perfect class for the moment
Without all the bullshit bouncing on the bike,
An understated style, and music that was not the focus.
For it’s really about the ride, right?

Man, things hit me hard today,
Not in an injurious way,
Not at all like that,

I must have been breathing some rare air
For my lungs were full of inspiration from
Masters of their crafts,
Friends full of humor, and the gift of loving to learn.
I walked freely, talked about being excited by research,
And felt better about who I am,
Than I had in some time.

I’ll take these punches, man.
No hurts, no ouches,
All that.

The italics are paraphrases, tributes, expressions of gratitude
For wisdom shared…

“A group who look to me for provocation or narration from time to time..”

I’m a nerd,
One who can clear a coffee table
With a gross joke that is over the edge without a rope
And still find time in the day
To nourish a soul with plenty of exercise,
Mental stimulation, and chilling with a sleeping dog.
It’s that mental stimulation that is calling out,
For I have for too long needed some provocation,
A little narration,
A stiff kick in the ass.

“We have in common a thirst, curiosity, are
Interested in figuring out what’s next…”

I had a moment today,
An intellectual concussion
That broke my mental filament
Which has been dimming
With an apathetic persistence
For the last few years.

“…and who are restless to make a difference.”

Fundamental shifts,
Philosophical tectonics,
This personal quake
Exposed my faults cemented by complacency,
Those rigors of passive acceptance,
The rejection of risk-taking,
An absence of purpose, or
Being ghosted by meaning,
The movement inspired today
Was that kick, the one I needed,
To push me into the open
Where I had not been in so long.

Sliding beyond now,
Drifting into the gray,
The place that matters,
A spongey area of chaotic ideas
Wrestling with what is known
And the fuzzy energy
Crackling when dissonance
Grabs the front of the brain and
Squeezes out the sour thoughts that have been
Clogging potential, shutting off
Excitement, fun, positivity.

“Restless…Curious…Thirsty…”

Finally, it’s happening,
I see it now,
I saw it after being poked
Authenticity has left, mechanized teaching had arrived,
I have become a Tin Man robot
Going through the motions
With no oil to release me from my voluntary servitude.

“Provocation…”

I heard Seth’s narrative,
I really heard Seth’s narrative,
So much so that I could not contain my excitement
I scribbled some notes
With only two minutes to get to class,
Where a disinterested bunch of ninth-graders waited
To talk about the ills of alcohol.

Instead, we drank from a cup of educational inspiration
Allowing a class to raise themselves to heights unseen,
Pushing me to use skills dormant since the end of RJP
Thoughts of self-efficacy rose,
Risking too big of a leap we talked of group efficacy,
And when the emotion was nearly too much,
I pointed out the window with excitement and worry
As a red pickup truck made a tight turn
With palettes stacked high in the bed.
The distraction let me have the moment I needed to clear my head
And wipe the tears from my eyes
As these kids were sending me to that happy place
I rarely get to experience.
I could have been standing below the Pamper Pole
Or having a quiet conversation at the top of a team beam,
There was that kind of honesty and importance
To what we were talking about.

“LEGO…”

Those little effing bricks,
Directions, no directions, bricks, kits

Then, one student said,
“Sometimes you gotta use what your parents taught you
Even when they ain’t around.”

My gosh,
They got it,
No homework,
No quizzes,
No threats of detention,
Only a conversation, something we have been working towards,
Something elusive, just when it was there,
It was gone,
Until today, when we did it,
We broke through and school quit being SCHOOL for twenty minutes,
Becoming realizations, reflections, connections,

Real, messy, untethered to directions,

Alive.

“Raise kids who know what to do when there are no instructions.” Seth Godin

[Inspired by Seth Godin, Akimbo Podcast 1/22/2020, Sportsmanship. Please check it out!]

Somebody asked me today
How I get it all done,
I’d never been asked that before,
Because the person I run closest with
Does way more in a day than I can.
Come to think of it,
I know a lot of people who get quite a bit done.

So, after a long and sort of eventful day,
I’ve plugged in
Some kind of like noise-canceling headphones,
Turned off the television, and committed
To trying to figure out the madness of today.

It started yesterday,
When I ate what may have been the largest sweet potato,
Sharing some with my dog,
Both of us waiting for the behemoth to pass.
Unfortunately,
Mine hit a few minutes after the heated seat in my truck
Took the bite of the cold from my arse and
Just a scant few minutes before I had to officially commit
To a short run and boot camp workout in the pool.
Heavy is a balloon knot holding back gravity
Like some levee on the Mississippi.

After the run,
Off to the pool.
I’m not much of a student,
So flailing around in the water goes against my grain,
But my friends were going to be working out and
I needed a break from the routine of training.
How is it that I’m scared to jump off the deck?
I’ve been hogtied Seal style and forced to survive for extended periods
(Who said gym teachers don’t take tough classes),
But that was yoga compared to jumping off a deck.
I lived to tell about the class
And stayed hungry all day.

Work.
Six-hours, that’s all I have to say about that.
A ride to an away basketball game,
Again, nothing to add except,
The sound of babies crying does not help
Anxiety from losing go away.
I’m talking a real baby crying, literally,
My guys played tough and nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s about 7:15,
My lunch is made,
Einstein the pit bull is curled in a ball, giving
Off the greatest heat, and
I’m debating whether to run inside or outside tomorrow
When the temperature
Might wreak havoc on my nickname namesake,
So I guess you could say I have shrinking interest
In being that cold in the morning.

There isn’t really that much here,
Just a day.
The next one starts at four,
Wonder what gets done then.

Wrestling with those internal voices,
Threatening to throw some shade their way
Or maybe go so far as to ghost them.

It’s not like stuff is all that serious,
We all have stuff to deal with.
I’m just tired of the noise.

Defensive,
Negative,
Phantoms masking as confident and self-assured,

The kind of voices that hear drama,
Start drama,
Relish in the bull that swirls around.

Sometimes mine,
Sometimes the dominion of others,
Neither that I should ever own.

I’ll keep going
The chatter will fade into the distance
With plenty of shade and only the friendly ghosts.

In recovery,
Not that I know anything about that,
But I know what it’s like to be mad,
Scared, full of discontent,
And I’m sure that I’ve found direction
To steer clear of all that,

Most of the time,

Which puts me in the life-jacket of
Recovery.
Since it’s still easy for me to find a red line,
To blame others when I’m scared,
To fail to appreciate all that is beautiful around me.

Recovery feels good, though,
Peeling at the scars of hurt,
Confronting the scary shit that is fostered within,
Accepting the moment as a temporary piece of me,
A time that helps me grow and has whatever
Filter
I choose to put on it.

Learning to laugh,
Being less judgmental,
Living my truth
Not putting it on others,

Uh-oh,

Sounding a little angry,
Afraid of something,
Unhappy with a moment.

Awareness.
Baby steps.
“Out of my head,” they sang…

I was once at a conference
Outside of Boston
After taking a crop duster plane
In a serious strong wind
That blew the plane all over the place.
The noise inside the cabin
Temporarily damaged my hearing
Leaving me dazed and deaf
To the ways of the people I was about to meet.

We spent the first day getting to know each other,
Touchy-feeling kind of games,
Ball tosses, trust falls, alligator rivers,
And such.
That night, over beers,
Two of the guys bragged of strip clubs,
Getting liquored up, and extracurricular affairs
That did not include their wives.

I started to tell a joke that started,
“These two old country boys,”
Which my new mates from the conference
Immediately shut down as inappropriate
And the kind of joke that would have crossed their lines
Had we gotten to the punchline,
“Sunday, Monday, Tues…”
My radar had been off,
Thinking these two pretty much scoundrels,
Appreciators of stereotypical jocularity,
Purveyors of familial incongruity,
But evidently, I was the louse.

Confusion reigns as I try to figure folks out,
I’m never quite sure where I fit,
Playing the part of an outsider is always the safest
Because I’m fairly sure it’s best to be untethered
So I can just float away
When I get too disoriented.

Those two dudes from that convention went their way,
I caught the crop duster back to Philly
Full of the kind of knowledge those kinds of workshops instill.
In forty-eight hours we had met, been responsible for physical safety,
Heard stories of infidelity, and established a fuzzy boundary for humor.
Unfortunately, when those moments repeat I’m left confused,
With a hand on a carabiner ready to let go
So I can stay in the quiet confines of what I know,
Uncertainty, inaccurate perceptions, and a selfish desire to not give a fuck.

Someday I’ll get there.
Someday I’ll understand my place.
Someday.

I read a study today,
It basically said,
Elite endurance athletes
Think about the race,
The tactics, they cues their body is sending
While
Amateurs think about
Everything else with a drifting mind
That can’t seem to focus
On the strategy, the plan, the reason for being.

Okay, I read, even made a note
About focusing on the particulars of
Whatever it is I’m doing,
Swimming, biking, or running
Because my amateur ass won’t finish
If I let my mind wander
To all the stuff that floats
In my gray matter.

Fully aware, I made a mistake,
Sharing my intentions for an impromptu ride
One of many hours
Because what else am I going to do
On a frigid Friday afternoon when I was gifted
With a bit of free time.
Saddled up, fan on, timer going, I started.
Mr. Shelby and his brother Arthur
Made mayhem in season five.
I was struck by the religious symbolism of several scenes,
“Gotta remember to write that down, brilliant angle.”
The smell of barbecue wafted down the basement stairs
Allowing my stomach to send signals
That hunger was on its way.
Then I realized my butt was aching,
My legs were tired, the sweat was dripping hard,
Exams were over, the sauna is gross,
But it’s not as bad as the steam,
I’ll risk the dry heat. The food, the food, the food.

Seventy-minutes in, done.
A couple of hours short.

Amateur.

My hip hurts from running,
Only a normal amount,
The soreness will be gone
In the morning.

This is a good thing,
Certainly, my discomfort
Being temporary,
Is nothing like that in The Swamp.

I bet the pain of running from
ACCOUNTIBILITY
Has got to hurt more
Than a little Ralph run.

Better to for a run
Than be on the run
I’m doing another seven tomorrow
The orange one must be sprinting.