Tag Archives: marathon

Looking Back through Boxes

When you’re the owner of a cloudy, unreliable childhood memory database, digging through boxes from the past is like meeting a younger version of yourself for the first time. Each class photo, laughably short journal entry, or overly detailed paper on the state bird of Delaware is a peek into the world of a focused, curious kid who now walks around in today’s lanky-limbed adult skin.

Taking attic inventory (literally) is a perfect way to chart the course of a life spent wondering and processing. The raw mental materials that would ultimately comprise the cement mix poured into the foundation of an often rigid structure were once still malleable enough to allow room for flexible movement of thought and action.

Hope. Promise. Excitement. Strategy. When we’re young, we overflow with anticipation for what still lies ahead and the pages waiting to be written. There is a hidden naivety beneath that level of optimism, but it’s pretty nice to visit a time before disappointment, disenchantment, regret, or rejection….even if it’s only a temporary trip.

Transporting to the past offers not only a nostalgic walk down memory lane but also a stark reminder of the brevity of that stroll. We spend so much of our developing years watching an hourglass filled with limitless sand empty at an almost imperceptible pace. At some point, we pick up this decorative clock for a closer look at the levels, and we’re shocked by the shifted weight.

It’s easy to take these modern monotonous days for granted, but they are all little limited editions just waiting to be maximized. The tedium of today can be the reminiscence of tomorrow. It’s all in the framing…or reframing.

A marathon is not run on a loop, and there’s a reason we crave scenic variety. But it’s better to fall from trying to outrun the vanishing sand than to be buried beneath it. At least there’s more padding on top of the pile.

Carpe diem. Have a healthy, wonderful, and wholly original 2020.

Adolescence Interrupted

Health Is Wealth

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”                      —Buddha

Balancing our mental, physical, and emotional well-being is a lot like Rocky chasing the chicken. As soon as we think we’ve grabbed it, we get pecked in the hand and feel like fools for ever believing we could master the untrainable. It often feels like an exercise in futility, and the spoils never seem to match the energy output. But we return to the coop, again and again, hoping this time will be different than the last.

But the “fowl” in pursuit may look less like a tangible target and more like an albatross necklace.

We are regularly trying to outrun, track down, and redraft our inherent nature, hardwired DNA, or natural predisposition. It’s tough to ditch an adversary attached at the cellular level. But we do our very best to challenge Mother Nature at every turn, confident that determination can trump reality.

This elusive attempt at leveling the mogul-strewn mountain is as comfortable as a marathon run in quicksand or climbing a rungless ladder. Being picked up and dragged back to the starting line after every failed attempt to finish is deflating and disheartening.

However, there are steps that can be taken and chessboard strategies that can be implemented to put us in the most favorable possible position. Compromise and a sense of grounded realism are comfortable bedfellows, especially when our knuckles are beaten and bruised from a constant battle with the beak.

Adolescence Interrupted

Chasing a Moving Marker

When I’m left with my own thoughts in the quieter moments of the night, I can’t help but look at the miles I’ve logged on this marathon and wonder where it ends. Is there some perfectly painted finish line that will welcome me with open arms? Or is every step its own achievement?

Some would posit that if you wake up in the morning and take a deep breath, it is a reminder that you are here for a reason. Every day is a gift, each moment another opportunity, etc. I suppose there’s some merit to that sentiment, but a proponent of the macrocosmic perspective would argue that the mundanity and daily minutiae are worthless without some greater result. It doesn’t much matter how many hours you spend in the woodshop if you never make a chair.

I suppose I’m fairly split. While finding satisfaction in daily victories is critically important to properly nurture the soul, looking back at a life that didn’t create some substantial impact would feel like a monumental waste of roughly eight decades. Perhaps, like most things, there’s some balance to be struck.

Also, the actions we take and decisions we make may not permanently transform the planet, but they can deeply affect someone else’s life—for better or worse. I’m reminded of the Dr. Seuss quote:

“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”

Sometimes our choices have a ripple effect that we’ll never know or even understand.

So maybe it’s best to stop looking back at those starting blocks or too far ahead at some figurative finish line. Even if the present moment is wrapped in doubt, pain, or regret, it’s worth acknowledging…before it’s gone.

Adolescence Interrupted 

Grateful for the Example Set

Growing up with squinted eyes blinded by the light of a seemingly untouchable force of grounded pragmatism and consistency made for an interesting cocktail of security and rebellion. Organized order, punctuality, and checked boxes built a foundation of unwavering dependability. With only one captain on the ship, there were few available alternatives. But oats strain to be sewn, and rigid rules stand as giant impediments to any misguided notion of freedom.

While nonchalantly savoring the spoils born from a hard-working parent’s willingness to haul that load alone, I dismissed the concept of a career that fit snugly into a spreadsheet schedule and haphazardly charged into the sandstorm of artistic instability. Assuming that everything would simply “work out” has made for a marathon of quicksand sprinting and rugs that seem destined to be pulled just when I think my feet are stable.

My life was so regimented and routine, I couldn’t fathom my work following suit. I felt compelled to float on top of that salted sea of possibilities and available options, so a door could always remain open when the need to run or pivot presented itself. I made certain no relationship would sustain, no child would be born, and no personalized nameplate would ever adorn some mahogany office throne.

Well, I got exactly what I wanted. By eschewing balance and structure, I have floated inside an artistic bubble, arbitrarily drifting from one project to the next. Dreams imagined. Dreams crushed. Blueprints written. Blueprints erased. Never seeing past the three illuminated feet in front of you makes for a precarious stroll, and my walking stick is now saddled with an inconspicuous nub.

I cursorily studied a road map clearly created by the cartographer responsible, and I wish I had at least learned to split the difference between margins and maybes. I will never live up to that example set, but I am beyond grateful for the cataloged tray of nuts and bolts offered to build my engine.

Adolescence Interrupted