Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good Intentions?

I am a licensed REALTOR.  You might say it is my day job.  As a sideline I shall on occasion teach a pre-licensing class.  We do not discuss how to stage a home or hold an open house, but rather cover the material which the Real Estate Commission deemed necessary knowledge.  A large portion of the text examines the law.  One thing I have to remind students is that the law only cares on which side you stand.  Your best intentions, no matter how sincere, mean nothing if you run afoul of the law.

Students will often argue that they would never break the law.  They would never even consider doing something illegal or immoral.  Unfortunately that does not matter.  The law is very clear in this regard.

What is not so clear is human interaction.  The consequences of our words or actions often outweigh whatever good we may hope to achieve.

An ill timed joke may cause more tears than laughs.

Advice may be interpreted as interference when your goal is nothing more than to provide an alternate perspective.

I think often on perspective - how my view of reality may differ from another person's view of the same situation.  The only immutable fact is that once the words leave my mouth (or "send" is pressed) I have lost the ability to control the message.  In many cases the original message behind the words is lost.  After all, perspective is colored by our own experiences. 

The lesson I've relearned is that good intentions don't mean a damn thing when you are suspected of crossing a line, of involving yourself in matters that don't concern you, or in a situation that ultimately is none of your business.

The trick is you may be asked your opinion.  You may be called in to consult.  Your advice may sincerely be needed and valued.  Just know that your audience is larger than any one person.  Your impact extends beyond any one person.

I have had opportunities to offer advice or a differing perspective.  What I have learned (or am reminded) is that someone will not always welcome my opinion.

At that moment intention is squashed by interpretation.  To the offended intention does not overcome misjudged actions.  But by no means take this as a apology.

I do not regret my actions.  I only regret the outcome.

In real estate, good intentions that run afoul of the law cost one a license.  In my case good intentions can cost me friendships and the company of great people.  It seems that losing my license would be easier to accept.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Marking Time

Twelve days till Cactus Rose.

So many details remain to be worked out.  So many thoughts to be reconciled before the signal to start is given.

I feel silly some days for how I go on and on about this event.  I know quite a few people who run ultras and barely make a peep about it.  Like Barry Sanders scoring touchdowns - act like you've been there before, and expect to get back.

However, I don't know that that feels like.

I know what it feels like to run a marathon.  I've had only two official finishes, but it seems as though I run them for breakfast.  I recall that within the first three miles of Lumberjack I was enamored with the idea of an ultra.  Until that moment I had hardcore, awake-at-night dreams of running the New York City Marathon.  Cruising into Central Park on a Sunday in November seems like the pinnacle of what I hoped to achieve in running, especially since I hoped to qualify for the even.  I don't believe in lotteries and wanted to make my own luck.

Then I set foot on the trail.  I tasted the wildness of nature; being alone with nothing but my thoughts for hours on end as if I were the only man on earth.  Then I gulped hard on the pain of stopping short.

I DNF'd my first marathon.  I had to stop due to unbearable physical pain.  I was angry at myself and angry at anyone and everything on the planet for several days though pictures from the time may show differently.  Lumberjack ended on a sour note, but it was noticeably free of anger.  There was plenty of emotion, but anger was not one of them.  I knew this was were I wanted to be.

For me the marathon was about speed and the medal.  The ultra marathon is about something different.  I know I can run a marathon with short notice.  It may take 3:30 or maybe 4:30, but I can give you the miles if I get twelve hours to be ready.  One hundred miles is different.  There is no guarantee I will finish.  Hell, with the course topography in the Texas hill country there is no guarantee I'll finish the first loop.  However, if I finish the fourth loop I may learn a few things I would never know after twenty six point two.

I may talk a lot and say some thoroughly stupid shit at time, but I'd rather let it out than keep it bottled up.

In twelve days I plan to let my legs, lungs and heart do the talking.

#DoEpicShit - Whatever you do, make your effort EPIC.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Last Day...

I happened upon a tweet this morning linked to a blog about coming to the end.  The writer posed a question about how one might spend a final day on earth, if given only twenty-four hours to live.  Would someone in this position, with knowledge that the clock was running out, continue on the mundane path and inevitable finality or would time stand still with boundless opportunity truly live those final moments?

Deciding how to spend those final fleeting hours would be difficult as I do not know the cause of my demise.  Am I ill?  Or like the upcoming movie In Time will my clock simply stop?  For the purpose of this post I will conclude that the last day for me to live free of physical or emotional discomfort.  It is a day without worry of disease or injury, incident or happenstance.  Knowing that time is short is the only moment we may be truly immortal.  In that moment, when we know the outcome, there is no fear for the future.  Only the present matters.   Being replaced all other things in order of importance.

I know that I would arise early.  Probably before the rest of my family.  Coffee would be made, per the usual routine and I would greet the day by gently waking the rest of the family.  Or maybe I would let them sleep a while longer and go for a run in the predawn stillness.  As I run past homes still in slumber, or with kitchen lights just flickering on, I often wonder what is in store for that person, that family, that household.  Is it a day for living, or another day of simply existing?

Since I have only twenty four hours there is no time for grand plans.  No major sight seeing or jaunts to far off lands and sights as yet unseen.  This day will probably be filled with the familiar.  I will most likely stick with the comfortable, the activities that make me feel alive and power-filled.

If I could do any two things (since this is my post and I deserve to be selfish on my last day) I would spent the day with my wife and daughters and I would run as much as possible.  Maybe they would bike along side me.  I would run till tired.  Occasionally I would stop to rest and take time to hold each one individually, giving them alternating turns being held close and warm.  Grayha, adventurous and inquisitive, living life out loud.  Lochlyn, passionate for reading and introspective.  Lastly, Andria.  The one that stood by me, sometimes confused by me, but always in love with me.  She is the one I most hate to disappoint. [As I neared the end of Lumberjack in April, as I comtemplated dropping out well short of my one hundred mile goal, deciding how to break the news to Andria caused me the most grief.]

I really don't have any final meal requests.  No last kick ass beer of choice.  Probably wouldn't ask for that tumbler of Johnny Walker Blue I always hoped to taste.

Just me and my girls moving headlong to the abyss...

Now, someone may wonder what the fuck I am doing considering such a topic.  Is this a veiled plea for help?  Am I setting up a scenario to intentionally end my life?  On the contrary!  We get so rushed and harried in the pursuit of things that do not matter in the course of our existence that we often forget the very reason we are here - to be in community with each other, whether it is just in a small group friends or family, or larger circles in society.  People constantly bark - my wife included - that we have no time, like the white rabbit slipping down the hole to Wonderland, we chase and pursue and rarely live in any moment.

Over that past few years life has been slowing down somewhat.  I am seeing what is important.  I cannot always provide for life's necessities, or provide to the degree required, but I am realizing what I need to be me, and to be of value to those reliant upon me.

I do hope that my final moment comes on a warm summer day, with long hours of sunshine and warm breezes.  Maybe we take in one last sunset, one more chance to witness the ever changing color palette of natural wonder.

As might comes upon me, and the veil of darkness falls, I take my rest knowing that I moved closer to being someone of substance, integrity and conviction.  Even though the past year or two has seen greater emotional trauma I believe I am stronger know for it.  I believe I have a better sense of what is important to me, a keener sense of direction even if I am not sure of the ultimate destination.

I simply know the footing of this path feels right.

How would you live if given the knowledge of only one day?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Deconstructing Me

This past three (THREE) years have been about reconstructing myself into something new.  Something better.  Something unrecognizable from my past.  I wanted to be far removed from my recollection of a fat, slow, unattractive person with flaws and faults and hang-ups and so many self-erected barricades to personal growth and success.  I assumed running would be the salvation from that past.  For the most part it has worked.

My physical being is not the same.  The scale and my clothing sizes would support that statement.  However I am plagued by the ongoing knowledge that I am still - emotionally - a shell of the person I want to be.  That change is proving to be the tougher challenge.

As I have mentioned before, this spring I became a fan of The Mental Illness Happy Hour, a podcast created by comedian Paul Gilmartin.  The amazing thing about Paul's show is how he has brought together a collection of people that all yield insights into my own life and personality.  I have been struck dumb on more than one occasion upon hearing my own words or thoughts flung back at me by a veritable stranger through the magic of the internet.  Such a thunderbolt struck on Saturday.

The last Friday's interview subject was Teresa Strasser.  You may know her from Adam Carrola's radio show or various programs on cable television.  Which stood out most about Teresa's story is the self-doubt she possesses.  She is capable and successful in her craft, yet holds on tightly to the fear that she is a disappointment to those around her.  In the past she has avoided assignments to avoid failing those whom count on her.  The ridiculous point is that avoiding the work creates the disappointment.

This is something I must deal with as well.  I am clueless as to the cause.  My childhood was not burdensome or pressurized, nor particularly stressful.  My parents were not tyrants.  They were proud of me, though I sensed that I could have always been a tiny bit better.  They saw promise.  They total me I had promise.  Promise that when realized would - should -yield success in my future, in whatever manner I chose to utilize that promise.

Yet nothing stirred me.  I did okay in school so long as I was engaged, but I rarely chose to excel.  In my professional career I set my limitations based on the expectations of others and my other perceived weaknesses. If I could not envision success I did not pursue the dream.  Just getting by was my code.  Not a great code by which to live a life.

The fear inside me was that I am truly not a capable or talented or gifted as people perceive, and that when I fail they will realize as much and either pity me or worse, realize their mistake and cast me aside as some loser not worth their time or effort.  The fear is that I am really a small person inside - mentally, intellectually, emotionally - and that everyone around me has overestimated my abilities.

Then I became a runner.  On the course is the only time I don't fear disappointing people.  Sure, the lead up to a race may be a source of nerves or jitters.  How will people respond if my time is slower than expected, if I am not able to finish the race?  The first mile is usually burdened by these stupid thoughts.  Then slowly they are supplanted by thoughts of chasing the other runners ahead of me, like a dog after the mail truck.  I forget that I am in danger of showing weakness.  I realized that I am not running for anyone but myself.  On Saturday I raced no one but my own inhibitions and the clock.  And I won.

The truth is that no one every pushed me to run.  Physical activity was not a focus as a kid.  I tried team sports but that is different.  Had I felt the true thrill of running as a kid, a teenager or even a young adult there is no telling how differently I may see myself today.  Maybe I would feel more capable, more complete.

The epiphany of Saturday is that my running is not able to disappoint anyone other than myself.  I have to live up to expectations established by me alone.

If I had but one desire in life to be fulfilled, it would be to walk as tall today as I did Saturday.  To be as fast and determined and dedicated in my non-running life as I am when barreling toward that finish line.  To know that I am what other people see when they look at me.

I do fear that I am becoming redundant in my writing of late.  I may have trouble recalling the subject and tone of previous posts and am probably repeating the same tired drivel.  In truth I rarely read (i.e. proofread) my posts once they are published.  Call it a shotgun approach.  Double barreled buckshot.  Sawed off.

There is a lot of good anxiety at the moment in my life.  I have been working with clients and making a little money.  I am selling stuff only and emboldening people to tear down self-imposed obstacles.  I have been communicating with friends and family on a somewhat better level, really getting to the root of matters and trying earnestly to learn where I became the me that struggles to be anything other than me.

Cactus Rose is drawing close.  Beyond that I do not know for certain.  The road is twisted and I do not see clear of the bend.