These days are something else,
Sort of free,
Sort of on vacation,
Always with the threat of lockdown,
Always with the idea of change,
The kind that comes from chaos,
The kind that happens when power
Seizes opportunity,
Seizes the sheeple and won’t let them go.
These days are something else.

I’m taking the Avon and Wee-Bey approach
First day, last day,
Everything in the middle is one big opportunity
An opportunity to exercise,
An opportunity to learn new stuff,
An opportunity to rest
Because if I just sit and think about this stuff,
If all I do is listen to the reporting,
If all I do is the time
These days will become something else…

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!]

Races have a soul,
Philly has a soul,
Too often that Philly way
Is a soul steeped in harshness,
Bitterness,
What ifs…

This past Sunday clouds took a break
From draining themselves
On the hopefuls who were looking for personal greatness
Along the streets of Philadelphia
Where dreams are often dashed
In whatever macabre deviance cast out by the city.

With the rain stopped, the cold kept a hold on the scantily clad throng,
Finally, the gun sounded and off they went
Chugging through the neighborhoods,
Looping through the parks, and living in the Philly vibe
That if nothing else, is tough.

A little bitch of a hill in Fairmount,
The uneven pavement of Old City,
Whiskey charity, and the boredom of West River Drive
Each doing nothing to inspire doom, gloom, or failure,
Until they joined forces with Mother Nature.

Or maybe it was Old Man Winter who brought the pain,
With a nasty wind off the Schuylkill blowing heavy rain sideways that
Made a wild trip through Manayunk a serious battle to prevent leg cramps.
The weather and electrolyte depletion could not defy this soul
For lessons from Goggins ran deep and kept purpose in the forefront.

Neither snow, sleet, nor hail could slow the pace,
Not even a full bladder could stop a determined stride
Each hobble bringing the finish line closer until it got real when.
The personal clouds opened up
Letting loose a torrent camouflaged by nature’s storm.

Toughness,
That intangible trait, something the Greek used to factor in,
Before he became a racist buffoon,
Is the one thing that culminates from all those hours of training,
And in the City of Brotherly Love, thousands showed their mettle.

Forget the metal platitudes, the dry fit t-shirts,
Forget the celebrities at the start,
Marathons are about a soul, an ethos
That we can do something crazy, something seemingly impossible,
Something fitting for a city like Philadelphia.

For in all the ugliness of the urban area,
All the pain and suffering that exists at one end of the city’s continuum
Not all hurt must be dire,
Hips might quit, fingers might get cold, hypothermia might be right around the corner,
But soul can soothe all ills.

A soul is an identity,
The energy that lets others know this is who we are
Take it or leave it.
And I’m taking it, the warts of Philly, the gifts of Philly,
The soul of Philly.

Twenty-six miles and change,
Not much on the scale of accomplishments,
Five hours
Not much on the scale of accomplishments,
But I’m damn proud of the experience.

The cold, the cramps, the confluence of cold rain and hot whatever that was,
We were out there testing ourselves,
Treating ourselves to the power of uncertainty,
Gaining new scars, better stories, and callouses against doubt and regret,
Souls, that’s what we got, yo.

Trending downward,
Not in a bad way,
Just easing into the days,
Semi-patiently waiting for a race
And then a change,
The next big challenge
That will require more patience,
Greater acceptance of ease,
“Belief in a better way,” like Ben sang,
So I can find another upward trend.

Finally, Friday,
A short, long weekend
Followed up
By what willk surely be
A too short weekend.

I wonder what it’s like
When everyday is a Saturday,
Retirement,
An ellusive vixen
Tempting and teasing
Offering the goods,
But when you get there
It’s all nasty.

Ah, whatever,
I’m too young for that,
Friday, that’s all today is.

person swimming on body of water
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Finding the balance,
Arms churning,
Water laughing,
Lungs complaining,
And all I want
Is to slide across the pool
Barely leaving a wake,
Not filling up with doubt,
Blowing away the bad air.

There were moments
When it happened,
Maybe for half a length,
I could feel the water,
Sensing its shenanigans,
Rolling away from the frustration,
Taking in those Hofian breaths
All as I journeyed to
Find my balance.