Sunday, January 15, 2017

These Old Bones

Big wheels keep on turnin'
Proud Mary keeps on burnin'
Rollin' rollin' rollin' on the river
Rollin' rollin' rollin' on the river

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Proud Mary

"these old bones" image courtesy Google search

All things considered, these old bones have done me well. 

I can't touch my toes to save my life. I can barely lift the bar over my head let alone adding dumbbells to the mix.  I'm lousy at hockey.  I'm too short for basketball. I swim like a brick. I was a pretty good catcher in my day and sailboarding and racketball were my strengths, but I fail at just about every other sport...

...except running

I remember high school football... okay, let's forget high school football... I was an abject failure.... but high school ping pong, that's another story.  I used to cut classes to climb the ping pong hall of fame ladder. I was that good the mind of a grade nine, skinny geek, I was awesome.  

Sadly, I have come to the realization that I am in a perpetual state of recovery... recovery from knee aches, shoulder aches, toe aches, calf aches, arse aches, and aches I haven't yet discovered. The young have injuries too ... boo hoo (yes that's sarcasm with a sprig of envy)... and recover about three minutes later with maximum whining.  Curse the young ones! 

We experienced folks take more time to recover, to heal, to mend. We like our injuries to simmer on a low boil for at least two or three weeks. We come to depend on our beloved massage saviours (thank you Alerry) and equally revered physiotherapists (hi ya Stephanie) We are never fully healed, and we're okay with that cuz these old bones sustain us and they're all we have. There's always another pain just around the corner to replace the one from which we've recovered.  

It's as good as it's going to get, and we're okay with that because we have come to love our old bones with all their scars and blemishes.

Aging gracefully is a full time job.   If I were a car, my owner would be looking for a new one with less mileage, one with fewer breakdowns, and easier on gas.  If I were a toaster my owner would just pitch me and replace me with a sexier, skinnier, shinier model. 

We are among the fortunate ones for these old bones keep us rolling down the river. 

Thank you bones.  I have a few more excursions planned so please hang in there for another ten years. I haven't yet run a 100 miler, but it's on the bucket list.  And if you fail me I'll understand and I'll be thankful for the miles you've sustained me. 

I know I'm on borrowed time.  Thank you bones.

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Notion of Do

Just do it.

Nike ad.

Nike's tagline is brilliant and almost compensates for their horribly offensive ad from 2012 where they mocked people with disabilities. The notion of do appeals to me. It suggests action and satisfaction. Do is gratifying. Do holds promise and hope for the future.  To do is to flourish, to not do is to languish.

The way I see it there are three interdependent principles to the notion of do: 1) Do Something. 2) Do it well.  3) Keep doing it.

Do Something
Choose an activity and just do it. I chose running many years ago because of its pure simplicity, its graceful elegance, and the sheer joy of spirit it provides. I also chose running because it's damn hard and humbling. It is wrought with failure and tough life lessons. Running is my do. It is joyful and paradoxically, it sucks. Over time I have learned to expect the suck and embrace the suck. It becomes part of the mystique of running, the joy, the satisfaction, the disappointment, the exhilarance.

I use running as a metaphor for activity. Just do something, anything.  Do something hard, something that makes you realize you're alive. Something that takes your breath away (literally and physically). Chose a do that makes your heart pound, makes your brows drip, makes you proud. Do something hard, joyful, and challenging.

'Hard' is relevant in terms of the notion of do. For some hard is just getting off the couch and walking around the block.  These are the brave ones, the ones who inspire awe; the ones that take a terrifying leap towards do. The obese who take a calculated first step, the depressed who writhe in invisible hurt, the physically challenged who roll through life smiling,  the sick who are determined to remain healthy and relevant for their families and friends. They lace up and do. These are the true role models.

Do it well.
Don't stop at do, learn to do it well. Doing it well promotes positive wellbeing and encourages us to improve, to not be satisfied with status quo, to become all that we capable of becoming.  My friend Bill Diel Jones once said "we race the way we train" an analogy for we live life the way we live.  We can live life in mediocrity and safety or we can live a life of trepidation and excitement. Learning to do it well means we accept our failures, we pick ourselves up, cry a little, and try again, and again and again.

Joanne Schiewe, hard to say, the late Joanne Schiewe was a consummate example of do it well. She became all of her being and then she tried harder and found untold potential.  She then climbed higher and tried harder, and climbed higher yet, and worked harder, and trained harder. She battled the insurmountable with courage and fortitude. She cried. She laughed. She achieved brilliance and then, ever so sadly, she died.

Our dear friend Jo, understood do it well better than anyone.

Keep Doing it.
At age 13 my son Max broke his arm while skateboarding. It was a serious break. His arm resembled a swan's neck and he was in significant pain. He was rushed to the front of the emergency cue and several surgeons were called to discuss options. He had lost circulation in his hand and the docs were worried he may lose his hand without emergency surgery.  They explained the procedure to his terrified parents and asked if we had questions. Shell shocked with the immediacy and fear we were mute. Max broke the pregnant pause with his personal question,

"When can I skateboard again?"

Fifteen years later we can laugh and analyze his intention with a clear mind. The takeaway from this unfortunate experience is passion. Skateboarding was his do and he gave it his all. He practiced endlessly on the streets and parks of Winnipeg. He could not imagine a day without skateboarding, a day without perfecting his passion.

The third do principle is perhaps the hardest. Keep doing it.  Never stop. Never settle for mediocrity. Be all that you can become.  Become better at your do.  Work hard to perfect your do.  Witness your self-esteem flourish.

I think of our friend Natalie Pirson and Joanne Schiewe and revel in their determination to be all they can become. I think of others, the invisible ones, the silent ones, the ailing ones who take a timid step forward. Who move forward with strength and dignity. They are the brave.

They do, they do it well, and they do it forever.

If you haven't yet set a new year's resolution might I suggest you do.

It's a good day to be alive.