Monday, March 30, 2015

This One

This one is for Greg. Also Pam.

I am inherently an introvert. Somehow, I found myself in a job that requires constant contact with other human beings, with them basically telling me all of their most intimate secrets and me asking them to put on a paper gown after stripping naked so I can physically examine them in order to rule in or rule out some life threatening or mundane illness. After hours, I am on call almost 24/7 (occasional days off do exist), which means I must answer my phone and talk to people on it, on demand. I really do not like talking on the phone at all. I am an introvert.

Being introverted, I do not instantly make friends, winning them over with my gregarious and hilarious personality. I suppose I am actually pretty awkward and broody much of the time. It is likely that on the day I hang out with people in a social situation I have also told 3 other people they are probably going to die in the next 6 months. It weighs on you a bit. Plus, introverts hate small talk.

All that being said, I love being connected to people, and I cherish those connections. Facebook is super nice for introverts who like connections. As is going for runs with friends. As is being with people who accept my awkward broodiness and quirky sense of humor.

Greg is moving, and I think it is brilliant for him and Pam. They are ready for a new adventure, and are moving to a city that has so much to offer. Greg and Pam are, however, the kind of people you want in your community forever because they are the kind of people whom, when you walk into their presence, make you feel like life is a good place to be. Not in a syrupy way, but in a real way. Like when you are walking down a sidewalk to your car and feeling irritated because you are late for your next meeting, then suddenly a waft of rose scent stops you mid-step and you see there next to you is a rose in bloom and it is March and you still expect there to be nothing in bloom in March, having grown up in the northern midwest, and you lean over to smell the rose and all of your irritation melts away. Greg and Pam are like that.

It took me awhile to get to know Greg. I am, as previously noted, an introvert. But I watched him interact with my child and the children of others, as a coach. He has a gift for this. Good coaches can extract excellence without instilling fear and anxiety. They can promote hard work without making people feel small when they don't do well. They make kids want to show up and do well just because they feel the love and respect of their coach. Also, Greg teaches by example. He brings joy to the task of running. You see it and feel it and want to be a part of it.

In recent months, we have done several longish runs on Sundays and despite my less-than-stellar speed these days, Greg shows up and makes me feel hopeful that I might run faster again, and maybe soon. He always runs about 6 inches ahead of me, and is like a deer while I am sort of like a slim hippo. I try to draft him but it is pointless (a hippo drafting a deer?). I really like running with Greg.

My awkwardness and weird jokes do not seem to throw him. This might be due to our having survived 2 Portland to Coast High School Challenges, wherein 12 teenagers are driven through the night to run 129 miles whilst 4 adults drive the vans which smell of socks, hormones and teenager sweat. This might be due to the time he has spent with my kid, who is an apple not fallen far from the mother tree. Or it might just be due to the fact that he likes my jokes. And he is just a spectacularly nice person.

An introvert may be boring at parties, but when we have friends we cherish, we are loyal and true. I also suspect introverts make good long distance runners, because we can go for long periods of time without social interaction quite happily, thank you very much.

Still, having a true friend at your side for those runs is the best.

Greg and Pam, being an introvert I am not the best at expressing myself. But know this: you are loved, and you will be missed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hashtag No Excuses

I had the funniest dream last night. I was driving in a car with Gandhi. Well, he was named Gandhi but I think he might have actually been the Dalai Lama. He was driving. It was a stick shift. He had a question and answer session, and I stayed quiet. After he was done, and there was silence for awhile, I said "Actually, I have a question." He (Dalai Lama-Gandhi) sighed, and shifted down. "Yes, what is it?" "I would like to know how a parent can teach loving-kindness to an angry, stressed out teenager," said I.

When I awoke this morning, I was hoping I had the answer to all parenting dilemmas and thus could write a bestselling novel, retire and run ultra marathons between practicing Beethoven piano sonatas. But this is what happened in my dream: He (DL-G) took me to a room with some other people. We laid a multi-colored rug on a table and did incantation over it. We coaxed smoky puffs of incense to the ceiling. That was his answer to my question.

It occurs to me that this means both nothing and everything: loss of control, ridiculous ceremony around impossible quests, and just a touch of smoke and mirrors. What sticks with me from this dream though was the affect of Gandhi-Dalai Lama. This guy was no-nonsense, and he drove a stick shift like he was James Dean. There was no struggle in his demeanor. And our questions were partially annoying to him.  He was old and not old.

Lately I have become enamored with Twitter. I am approximately 7 centuries behind, because when twitter first started I saw it much the same as I saw the internet when it first started to catch on. Mainly, with both, I said to myself, "What the heck is the point of this? And who will ever use it?" Which largely explains why I am not a multimillionaire living in Silicon Valley. Anyway, I like to post random things, ranging from the political to the satirical to the runs I take. I find myself especially inspired by stories of athletes who can be classified as geriatric. Maybe because I am spending a lot of time as a doctor to the elderly lately. And maybe because I see what exercise can do for them.

Take this guy, for example. He set the 200meter record for 95 year olds. #noexcuses

This particular story was sent to me by a friend who is about as inspiring as they come. She is not old, and in fact I am the elder compared to her, but she is strong, solid, smart, and dealing with what life has thrown her with grace and wisdom. Also humor. And what blows me away, is she takes time to support others. #noexcuses

So in full disclosure, I am not running as much as I would like these days. The reason is (here comes some excuses):
10-12 hour work days
dark mornings
I am bald and unamused
with whatever causes this baldness comes fatigue
I am unhappy with my (lack of) speed, and therefore am considering quitting running altogether

Now, if one of my children (bless their hearts) started on such a monologue of excuses, I would be saying "Hold on, I need to get something out of my pocket", at which point they would roll their eyes and sigh loudly and histrionically. Click here to see why.

I do not know why I am a slower runner than I used to be.

But does it matter? I forgot to ask Gandhi-Dalai Lama this question, but I am figuring his answer would've been just as *useful* as the rug-incantation-incense thing about my parenting question. I think what he might have meant, ultimately, was #noexcuses

It is good to show up when G-DL is driving and answering questions. It is good to show up when a strong and wise friend offers their love and support. It is good to show up when you are desperate for a run, even if your pace is not what it used to be.

Growing old is not for sissies.

Not that I am old. But I am feeling old these days. I am wondering, at times, what it all means.

And I am still trying to figure out why hashtags are a thing. They will forever be, to me, the sharp sign. As in musical notation. I have not been playing enough piano lately, but that is another story.