Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Hashtag No Excuses
As a music major, a hashtag is always a sharp. Not a sharp in the sense of the medical world.
Rather, a sharp indicating a half step higher than the usual note in music.
A double sharp is an X. Meaning two half steps higher on the musical scale than usual, at least in music. In medicine, it is a chromosome associated with females. In movie ratings it means--ick. In sports, like the X-games, it means you are doing a sport which is potentially life-threatening by its very nature.
But I digress before I even begin.
What is on my mind today is not quitting. Not quitting life, not quitting parenting, not quitting running, not quitting music, not quitting hope, not quitting trying, not quitting trying to plant a vegetable garden even though the Redwoods blot out the sun, not quitting checking the microwave to see if Obama is in there somewhere and planning to rescue us anytime soon.
I watch a lot of people struggle in their daily life and try my best to offer some advice on healing. I watched people in Guatemala on my recent trip there, where I was part of a group fitting paralyzed people, mostly children, with wheelchairs, and I saw their struggle and also the mundanity of that struggle. Struggle does not belong to others. Struggle is the human condition. My kid and I learned to fit these people to wheelchairs which reduced the need for their family members to carry them everywhere. Carry them everywhere. Consider that. Like this 14 year old guy with Muscular Dystrophy.
My kid and someone else's kid, Guatemala, 2/2017
Why not give up? In Guatemala, we met a woman who walks a marathon twice weekly to go to the "laundromat" with her family's clothes, which basically is a cement tub that she scoops water into, sort of like taking the clothes to the river, but in the hills, where the Mayan people (who are > 60% of the population, mind you) were pushed, there is no river or water.
The "Laundromat", Guatemala, 2/2017
What compels her to keep this up? I mean she is not getting any race medals or swag. I assume her family appreciates it, but in my experience as a mother, there is not a whole lot of verbal gratitude for doing the scut work of parenting life.
I like to look for examples of geriatric acts of athletic stupendousness. Like this 65 yo sub 6 minute miler. Or like the Iron Nun:
It helps me shift my perspective of the possible. It helps me feel less sorry for myself. It helps me see there are not a lot of great excuses.
This is not to say we should all be doing Iron Man level athletics, or X-Games level daring, or even walking a marathon to do our laundry. Would it not be nice to have a way to do laundry closer to home? But greed begets struggle, and therein lies the rub. It is a First World problem to need to create struggle (Iron Man Triathlons, marathons, going to the gym, and all that excellent stuff). It will be interesting to watch the next 4 years unfold, as struggle for basics becomes more of a reality for many Americans. For the record, by the way, I met no "bad hombres" in Central America. But man, they drive like crazy people. Way worse than even Californians
Why do we create struggle? I defer to my philosophy gurus to answer this, but ultimately I think we need to feel connected to each other (which is a struggle), connected to our bodies (ouch), connected to a higher purpose (what does it all mean?????) and recently, connected to our electronic devices. I cannot count how may times my watch has told me to "Move!" It is disconcerting, honest and fairly hilarious.
Last night, after work, despite my excuses:
-on call 24/7
-worried constantly about my kids and patients
-a horrible parent, I feel
-gas tank almost empty: in my car and in my body
Despite all those valid issues, I drove north and ran some hilly, sandy, rocky, heart-shattering beautiful terrain.
Trinidad, March 2017
I ran. Not away, but to, not in struggle, but in gratitude, not unaware but awake.
Twitter is ridiculous and kind of fun. I am trying to picture the Guatemalan laundromat women posting on twitter.
Marathon and laundry! In my skirt! Take that, gringo gym rat. #no excuses
Struggle on. It is what we do, us humans.