If you claim to be a real friend then be real in your soul. If you claim to be fake then be an enemy instead-
I was in my early 30’s when we first met. This particular marathon was in a beautiful and exotic part of war-torn Baghdad, Iraq. I did not like it from the start and it only got worse from there …
I nuzzled my way onto the starting line cocky, arrogant, and self-centered. I couldn’t stand the thought of having to run through the pack, outlasting the early sprinters and generally weaving through the pedestrians. Much to my dismay, I faded back 10 miles into this scorching hot race. This was just another marathon, but I was the same person.
And there I was at the next big race in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The same person I was a year earlier followed me to this race as well …
It finally dawned on me, blonde hair and all, that it was I, who needed to change or else I would be my own worst enemy for the rest of my life. As I began to walk the path of meaningful change in my life, I came to realize my poor marathon performances were a metaphor for the way my life works. I can cast blame and run away from poor performances, although they will keep returning until I finally face them, and owe up to them.
Over the past three years of blogging. I tried at times, and failed more often than I like, to share with you, thinking out-loud, why these particular traits of me bother me so much.
Once I set out to change myself all those years ago, I started to notice that the “old” me doesn’t come around as much anymore. When these feelings do arise out of nowhere? I tap deeper into my inner compassion and gratitude … Noticing that in some ways, I have been trying to help myself all along, I was just to cocky, arrogant, and self-centered to notice.
Morning without you is a dwindled dawn-
*Written this past Wednesday at 0500*
I’m more than a little bit pissed off this morning. Primarily with myself (for ignoring my tight hamstrings and back for nearly two weeks), at our local utility company (for raising our rates again), at the lousy Nebraska weather forecasting people (for raising my hopes for nice biking weather), at some close friends I help train for not taking my advice about ultra marathon prep, and at my body once again (because it’s been barely three weeks and I’m lying on the floor covered with ice).
*Written five minutes ago*
Looking back at what I wrote last week, it just occurred to me that maybe my extreme frustration with “life” and the people around me, has at least as much to do with my own irritation(s) at the way I take care of, and treat myself. Interesting to think that if one is as gentle, kind and compassionate as one would like to be, one wouldn’t get quite so pissed off at the necessary trials of dealing with this thing called “life” …
I leave you with this – In one sentence – Who are you?
My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus-
This past Thursday I walked into a local novelty store in the Omaha Old Market. “Good afternoon – How are you?” A kind worker asked me, a little too enthusiastic for the morning I was having. Life has been dreadful so far this Summer, and facing some stressful moments at the time … I did not shy away pretending all was fine.
I muttered, “I’m OK.” She replied back while stocking gift cards in a display, “Just OK? Not awesome? It’s a beautiful day outside! Cheer up dude, you should be thankful for what you have?”
There was no smile on my face this particular day. Although I still had gratitude and joy in my heart. Sometimes, expressing kindness and giving thanks does not require a peppy cheerleading routine.
The message I am sharing today is a touch different from the norm around these parts. Simply put – There are times when we are experiencing difficult moments in our lives, and its hard to be – Awesome. Sometimes, openly telling others to “cheer up” and “be thankful for what you have” is a strategy for avoiding what they may be going through in the moment, the pain, the hurting and struggle.
It’s really easy to tell someone to cheer up. Rather than taking a moment to listen to what is going on in their lives…
All of us will face difficult moments in our lives, piss poor marathon this past weekend, stress at work and whatever else. Grief is a part of life and no matter how hard we try – we will never outrun it. We don’t have to have everything going right in order to be thankful, to express ever lasting kindness, in any situation.
There are no facts, only interpretations-
When I began walking my current path, my motivation was existential …
I struggled each painful morning to answer burning questions such as Who am I? What is my true nature? What is the nature of the world around me? These questions still linger to this day, although meditation practice and mindfulness practice in particular, have helped to define the path unfolding in front of me.
During a painful period recently, with profound feelings of sadness. In one sense, I tried to be gentle with myself, allowing my body ample time before engaging it fully. As time went on, motivated by the desire to be fully alive and fully functioning, I began to observe closely just how my pain constituted and unfolded, how I participated in it, and how my attentiveness and lack of it affected “things.”
When I was aware and mindful, I would be feeling fine and then – within a moments notice … I would find myself back at the start. When I was able to both engage and observe, I could begin to see that my experience began as a kind of spasm, a contraction, a rushed breathe. I could notice (however arduous as it was to stay present) how my manner of paying attention, what I attended to and how, could either accelerate or decelerate the rhythm of the process.
Attention to the process is what meditation brings to my life, especially when the dynamic themes play, like a broken record.
We may not be able to control what arises each and every day. However we do have a say in how we respond, moment to moment … These fruits of daily life, can be liberating.
It’s not time to worry yet-
Dear Readers, since Summer has surrendered to the beauty of the Fall, I have been obsessing over my left knee as the days grow shorter and the nights increasingly grow colder. I feel nothing different in it. It doesn’t hurt as much as before, just some clicking and popping – the occasional swelling reminding me to slow down and rest. And yet, in the past, I have had severe, tear inducing pain underneath where my left index finger rests this morning. A few months ago (July maybe …) after doing too much physically during class, cycling with no intention or purpose: In essence ignoring my body, I had the same feelings, in the same spot of my surgery. I obsessively spent countless hours rubbing and massaging around the medial side of my left patella, the femoral notch, the spot on your lovers knee that you place your hand while driving one Fall morning to pick apples … I did this to the point of bruising the still tender soft tissue where my surgeon ripped my knee apart.
Last evening while reading Siddhartha, cuddled up with my Son lying on the floor, nothing is going on. no pain, Yet in my mind I feel like I feel something, in the sense of sensing something is wrong. I feel like I sense something there, like an old friend paying a visit after a long journey …
Which reminds me of something. It’s about “some” dude who visited a friend recently, “Right here.”
I He said, jabbing, poking at the exact spot. The doctor friend replied, looking directly in my unwavering eyes, “have you been doing this a lot?” “What do you mean by this?” I replied, jabbing and prodding at the incision points insistently.
“Yes. Said the doctor. “Yes,” she said.
My friend looked me in my eyes once again, her hand placed on my knee with care and softly spoke … “Stop doing that – Dude.”