Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stuck in a moment


What a great week it has been. My wife and I figured-out we have reached a combined weight-loss-to-date totaling 202 pounds. We celebrated by running an easy 10-miles and then by me chasing Gloria around a big box store in search of the perfect shoes. Before heading home, we stopped at a local baseball field where we sat and watched 10-year-olds play a few innings on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. It took me back to my t-ball days, boy there was a game I could play. I could knock that ball so far off that tee -- I can still see the numbers on the outfielders backs as they chased down another monster shot.

We were always active kids, my friends and I, not just in organized sports, but on the street as well. I can remember spending my Saturdays playing street hockey from sun-up to sun-down, stopping only long enough every few hours so our mothers could change the wool mittens that were comfortably frozen to our hands. A warm, dry pair, and out we'd go again.

And it's not that we didn't have distractions that could have kept us indoors -- television, video games and computers were available, albeit not quite up to the level they are today, but it always seemed more realistic to pretend to be Darryl Sittler with a hockey stick, rather than a game controller, in my hand.

Since I started running, I've noticed one really sure thing. If not for organized sports, today's children would have no way to engage in physical activity. I've run through all sorts of neighbourhoods at all times of day, and I am always struck by the fact that there are hardly ever any kids out playing on front lawns or in backyards. No games of hide n’ seek, no tag, no double-dutch skipping and certainly no street hockey. Skipping ropes and hockey sticks have been replaced by the video screen, attached either to a television or a computer.

But why the change over the years? It could have something to do with those parents who send their kids out the door with a portable video game console and actually consider that playing outside. Or maybe it’s the school cafeteria that now considers deep fried tasty-tasters a vegetable and then aggressively encourages its students to eat more "vegetables" -- kids can’t run around on deep fried tummies. Or could it be one school board's good-intentioned move to replace vending machines full of sugary soft drinks with water and juices only to be told by the parents' association to reinstate the soda pop? Kids need inspiration, not cop-outs. With moves like these, life expectancy numbers are predicted to fall dramatically in the decades ahead, not because we're destroying our environment, but because we're destroying our children. The future is indeed, bleak.

There was a time, a few years ago as I was heading towards 400 pounds, I didn't see myself living beyond the stated life expectancy for North American males. The way things are now, I may just pull this off.

Seems like a hollow victory though, should it happen.

Run for your life.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Coming into one's own


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately--early morning runs by one's self are a great breeding ground for thoughts and ideas. I've brought some of these thirty-minute reflections to a friend over the past week or so and they've turned into some wonderful, deeper-than-usual conversations. My friend claims to be a better listener than a contributor, but believe me, she can give it just as good.

Our latest chew was about all of us as individuals and the notion that we never really stop growing into the people we are, we just continue to evolve, shedding layers of the "old us" to allow the "new us" to grow into place. We talked about the idea of a person coming into "her own", a place where she is at peace with herself and who she is--the little things mattering much less than they used to, and grounded by a very strong sense that there is nothing in life she can't do. A place, where as she put it, life is good. As usual, I snuck in a running analogy, she went along with it.

I know runners, a lot of them, and I know many who have changed as people, since they became runners. They're no longer doubters, they're believers, champions and winners, brimming with confidence, weary of cockiness. They're overflowing with empathy, admiring the chosen few and cheering their hearts out for the rest of us. They want so badly to take the struggles away from those that are struggling.

They're no longer spectators, they're high jumpers, setting the bar, only to fire themselves over it and then raise it even higher. They no longer seek inspiration for they themselves are inspirational; they don’t need heros for they themselves are heroic.

They're life-long learners, students of their own bodies and abilities, learning a new lesson with each passing Sunday.

They're regular, every day people who know there is nothing that can't be achieved. There is no distance too far, no hill too steep, no challenge too great. They're dreamers and doers. They no longer need a road map for they themselves create their own pathways.

And when you reach this point, as most runners do, indeed my friend is right, life is good.

Run for your life.