I’d like to write more, but often I’m pressed for either time or ideas. Sometimes a photo prompts my next piece. Usually something happens that I feel compelled to share. When the ideas strike, the pieces often write themselves. I’m just the conduit. At least that’s how it feels.
Today I have time but no ideas. Photos but no stories behind them. Many things on my mind, and none of them flowing through my fingers. More like scattered thoughts colliding.
I’m fifty-one. Maybe closer to death than high school. I was thirty when I became a cop. I remember driving home at the end of a nightshift, pulling into the driveway, and wondering: wondering when I’d feel like a grown-up, wondering when I’d feel comfortable in my own skin, wondering when the world would make sense.
The world still doesn’t make sense. Yesterday in Buffalo, New York innocent people were slaughtered in a grocery store. I grew up near the U.S. border. My parents shopped at that grocery chain regularly. The grocery store is called “Tops.” I can still hear their jingle in my head “Tops Never Stops Saving You More.”
I’ve given up trying to make sense of the world. That’s not going to happen. Which ironically, may be an important step in having a better understanding of myself.
I may not be there yet – understanding myself that is – but I feel like I’m on the right path. It’s only taken half a century.
Fatherhood has helped. Not that it’s easy. Every day I grapple with being a dad. When to discipline? How to teach life lessons? What’s the best way to help an innocent child become a strong and confident girl?
Until very recently I listened to the Marathon Talk podcast. The hosts embraced the notion of trusting the process. It’s fine to have a goal, but the goal is secondary to the work you do along the way. It’s the steps that matter, whether in marathon training, or raising a daughter. Any goal is the product of the steps and moments that came before it. Take your steps. Live in the moment. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Never stop moving.
I became truer to myself when I stopped eating meat. I eat a whole food plant-based diet because I believe it’s my best chance to live a long and healthy life. There’s more to it than that – changing the way I ate showed me that, daily, my ideals and values could be in alignment with my actions. That was a powerful lesson.
Veganism led me to Rich Roll. Rich chronicled his journey from addict to endurance athlete in his book ‘Finding Ultra.’ His podcast guests are leaders in their fields; health, neuroscience, athletics, and the arts. Podcasts have reshaped the path I’ve taken in my life. They’ve changed the way I breathe, encouraged me to write, inspired me to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to run miles in the dark, and, conversely, prompted me turn my alarm clock off because sleeping may be the best thing any of us can do to promote physical and mental health.
I used to have one or two books on the go at any one time. Recently it’s been five or six. Although the world doesn’t make sense, books help me navigate my way through it. I’ve been reading about survival, hostages in Iran, a German general kidnapped in wartime Crete, the latest Reacher novel, a collection of essays from Jedidiah Jenkins, and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. I read with a pen in hand, underlying meaningful passages. I read with my journal by my side, and I copy especially meaningful passages into it. Great writing moves me. Incredible stories inspire me. They all help me focus on my process and my path ahead.
My wife and I have a close friend whose mother is terminally ill. Words so often fail in those situations. So we sought the answer in words more eloquent than any we could ever express. We sent a copy of Susan Cain’s latest book, ‘Bittersweet’ which is about grief. Cain wrote ‘Quiet,’ a book about introverts. It helped me better understand myself. Without having read it, I know ‘Bittersweet’ will be an eloquent, thoughtful work which will help people all over the world.
I have a friend who did something special yesterday. He ran one hundred kilometers in fourteen hours. That’s more than two marathons. He suffered. He endured. He finished. His achievement was even more remarkable because of his training. His longest training run was 10 kilometers. He’s in excellent shape. Obviously that helped. But, on paper, no coach would draw up a training program without incorporating much longer runs. On paper he should have done 20-, 30- and 40-kilometer runs. He didn’t. He didn’t need to. His mental toughness is off the charts. He ran sixty-two miles yesterday with his mind.
The mind. That’s another thing podcasts have helped me appreciate. The power of the mind. To heal. To create. To help us reshape ourselves through meditation, and by visualizing the lives we want to lead.
Two more scattered thoughts.
Yesterday we adopted a kitten. Her name is Molly. Our daughter’s name is Molly. We’re going to have to rename our daughter.
The pictures of the fallen trees are from a cutblock not far from our home. I walked through it, and although it was undeniably apocalyptic, it wasn’t awful. There was beauty in the desolation, and in the rich green forest behind it.