Here are five things that I learned or was reminded of this week:
1. There comes a point when you start feeling your age.
2. It’s fun to race but its more fun to race with friends.
3. I often get sore in muscles that I never knew I had. (refer to #1)
4. The words in my head are often difficult to transfer to paper.
5. I’m thankful for my mom and all the women who have been like a mom to me.
What did you learn this week?
Here are five things that I learned or was reminded of this week:
1. I loathe long stretches of overcast days.
2. Tomorrow I will be a wise old sage.
3. My friends are the best friends.
4. My girlfriend rocks.
5. My favorite birthday meal is crab legs.
What did you learn this week?
In these parts, summer slaps you across the face with a sweaty palm when you walk out the door each morning. It often comes across as a bully and makes you fearful of going outside. The air is soupy and thick and you sweat while standing still. In these parts, summer is grueling.
So there is no doubt that people in these parts welcome autumn with open arms. Because summer is long and it beats us down. Autumn is our saving grace.
In late August we receive hints of autumn. It pokes its head out from behind the curtain and teases us. But for a fleeting moment, the humid air becomes crisp and we flip back and forth as to whether or not we should wear a long sleeve shirt.
So on some of those late summer nights we wear our hoodies and sweat shirts as if to encourage autumn:
“Come on in. Make yourself at home. We missed you.”
Autumn brings a new color scheme and our senses are reintroduced to nostalgic sounds and smells. Orange, brown and gray. Leaves burning. Wind whistling. The roar of a football stadium. This is a season of change. In these parts, autumn is exciting.
Even though it’s exciting and refreshing, autumn doesn’t last long. In these parts it’s less of a full season and more of a buffer between summer and winter. It enters slowly and leaves quickly. But we relish in it and make the most of it.
We love the change and the relief that autumn brings and we remember that a change of season doesn’t always have to do with the weather. Our lives are seasonal. Some are longer and some are shorter. Some are exciting and some are tough but thats the way God designs it.
We go through different seasons to learn and grow and to live and celebrate. There is a purpose to every one.
So when your season slaps you in the face, remember that there is a better one right around the corner.
Because in these parts, the tough times don’t last forever. Our saving grace is just a season away.
It didn’t take long for me to see the competitiveness of the Burton brothers. I had heard of their legendary will to win and how serious they take competition. On that overcast, Friday afternoon on the golf course, I witnessed their passion to win and their desire for perfection first hand.
The Burton brothers take their sports seriously. They play tennis, golf, softball and volleyball among others and the only time they relish in the joy of these sports is if the results earn them a notch in the win column. From physical sports to Iphone games, the only foreseeable end for them is with a victory.
Golf is a leisure sport. But not for the Burton brothers. From hole one to eighteen, they embody the eye of the tiger. They analyze every lie and every break. They judge the wind and argue the accuracy of yardage markers. A round of golf for them is not leisure. It’s business.
It’s when things didn’t go their way that I saw their true passion. A bad decision or a hitch in their swing leads to expletives and outbursts. It was only until I saw the shiny nine iron flying over my head followed by the eight iron that I knew that one of them had missed the mark.
A bad day of golf leads to lots of flying golf clubs when you play with the Burton brothers. And by the end of that day, their throwing arms had to be sore.
If you joke with them about their golf balls landing in the woods, their passion turns towards you and you have nowhere to hide from their wrath. In the heat of the moment, their skin is thin. You don’t haze the Burton brothers unless you’re their father.
“I thought I raised boys!” their dad says when one of them leaves a putt short. Their faces turn red and their brows furrow. But they don’t return their fathers chastisement. They never would.
Before playing golf with the Burton brothers, I always thought that I was overly passionate about competing. I’ve been labeled a sore loser, an ungracious loser. I’ve lamented over a run that didn’t go my way. I’ve pounded my fist on the poker table when the cards didn’t fall my way.
But I learned something about my passion when I played with them that day.
I learned that pitching a fit may make you feel better but it doesn’t make things better. There is a better way to deal with failure than throwing clubs and screaming four letter words.
While playing with the Burton brothers, I learned that I didn’t want to lose that way. There can be grace in failing.
How do you handle failure?
A loud thunderstorm rolled through this morning just before the sun came up over the horizon. Since there was no sunlight, the flashes of lightning illuminated my bedroom. The heavy rain was soothing but the thunder kept me awake. So I lay in my bed pondering, reflecting.
The past two weeks have been a blur. Going on vacation seems to make time go by faster. It’s supposed to be a time to slow down but the things to see and do come at you as if you were driving by them in a fast car with your head out the window. You see them in pieces. It comes at you in streaks and only until you slow it down, can you make sense of it all.
So as I stare straight above and watch the ceiling fan churn, those images start to become clear.
During the past two weeks I’ve seen the clouds from above. I’ve touched the ocean floor and swam with the most colorful sea life, witnessing the beauty and mystery of God’s creation.
I’ve walked through preserved pieces of history and sat where a great writer once sat. I learned that even the greats aren’t perfect and that God can make a masterpiece out of us even when we are broken and flawed.
I’ve missed people, been annoyed by people and have been moved by people. And I’ve learned that, no matter what, I wouldn’t trade those people for anything.
I’ve stretched myself physically and have paid the price for doing so. I’ve felt the joy of winning and the agony of defeat.
I’ve seen talented musicians on street corners sharing their passion, hoping for a break. I’ve seen the broken, darker side of this world and I’ve seen the hope that it seeks. All the while, I’ve seen my own flaws and I’ve seen the strengths that only God can provide.
So as I lay here with my head on the pillow, the storm passes on and the rain begins to dissipate. And as I examine where I’ve been and what I’ve seen, I realize that I’ve only seen a glimpse. God has an amazing way of telling a story. He often tells it in short bits and pieces.
Sometimes we see God in people and places and experiences. Sometimes He reveals Himself in storms, through rumbles of thunder.
Sometimes we see God in quick, bright instances, in lightning streaks that illuminate a room.
Like flashes before our eyes.
I’ve never been a fan of the word “blog”. It just sounds too technical. It lacks heart. The shortened version of “web log” just doesn’t sound personal. A web log sounds like something doctors, lawyers and IT people use to record technical data. To me, this blog is more than a web log. It’s a piece of me.
This is my 100th post. I started it almost a year ago. And I can’t tell you what motivated me to do it. I’ve always enjoyed writing and over the years I have amassed a few notebooks full of stories and ramblings, nothing completely finished. I keep those notebooks in a box in the closet. It’s something personal to me. Something that I’ve never felt comfortable sharing… until now.
Why do I do it? Good question. The best answer is this. I have something to say. There is no ulterior motive. I have nothing to sell you. I’m not trying to make a buck, yet. I’m not trying to aggressively build a platform. It comes down to the simple joy of writing.
Writing feels good to me. It’s fulfilling. When I finish a post, I get that same feeling I get when I finish a run. It’s almost as if writing releases endorphins. No longer do I just get a runner’s high. I get a writers high.
So what you read here is from the heart. I try to tell you a story and let you see the world through my eyes, as twisted and quirky as it may be. It’s more than a log. It’s a piece of me.
Thank you to all that follow me and share. I’ve enjoyed the journey so far and look forward to the future. Here’s to 100 more!
One of the great things about running is that your biggest opponent is yourself. Only the elite runners and those of you who are wicked fast compete to win the race. Very few of us go into the race thinking that we’re going to win.
The true beauty of running is that you are sharpening yourself. You are making yourself better by pushing yourself harder. Not only are you becoming physically healthy but you are becoming mentally healthy as well.
Despite the simplicity of the sport, running is a series of decisions. And as you get further along, those decisions get harder. Running is often a chess game with your mind. You get to a point where your mind wants you to stop so you have to outwit yourself. You have to trick your mind because your body has so much more than you think.
So when you want to quit, try these three things:
Disassociate from the run: Think about something else. Anything else. Cake, horses, rainbows, clowns, things that make you happy. Let your mind wander. Your legs will continue churning and the pain and fatigue will be an afterthought. Occupy your mind and leave no room for doubt.
Breathe easy: Take long, slow, deep breaths. All the way down into your stomach. Almost as if you are trying to make yourself belch. Relax and listen to yourself breathe. Enjoy the rhythm.
Imagine the fans: Listen to them cheering for you. See your friends and family rooting you on. Imagine the finish line where the spectators are clapping and yelling. Let their admiration and respect fuel you.
Running isn’t just a physical endeavor. It’s part mental. Keep pushing yourself. You’re only getting stronger.
What do you do to get through those mental roadblocks?
As we get older, life becomes more about being safe than having guts. Our needs change and what we really want to be gets put on the back burner. But deep down inside we still have a longing to do what we are called to do. The problem is that we are afraid to launch. No guts, no glory.
When I was a child, there were no limits to what my brothers and I would do. Our backyard was our playground, our kingdom. We were adventurers and we didn’t need a lot of material things to launch a dream. Boys that grew up in my era really only needed three items to launch. Their trusty steed, a hill and a creek.
My trusty steed evolved over the years but my first and favorite was the Big Wheel, that plastic trike that was virtually indestructible. The Big wheel was built for speed and destruction. Like a well known watch, it could take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.
My Big Wheel was blue, red and yellow. The scuff marks on the sides represented memories of one on one battles to see who was the fastest and most daring. Like WWII fighter planes that displayed victory tallies, our scuffs were reminders of triumph. Although our battles were never about life and death, they usually involved creeks and death defying stunts.
Only the bravest in our neighborhood would attempt to jump the creek with the Big Wheel. But the few that did just needed an old cinder block and a sheet of warped ply wood that the old man threw out. And of course a steep hill to launch off of.
Luckily for us, the steepest hill in the neighborhood was directly perpendicular to the creek. It was actually our neighbors drive way but to us it was Mount Everest. From the top of the drive way we could see the entire neighborhood. From that altitude, the creek looked less like the Amazon river and more like a gentle stream.
When the ramp was lined up and tested for structural integrity (which consisted of jumping up and down on it), we would lead our steeds to the top and get in place. There were no test runs. It was fly or swim.
We would line our Big wheels up and try to calm the nerves inside. Focus wasn’t the issue. It was fear. It was the fear of crashing along the way. We were never afraid to launch. Our peers waited to see if we could walk the talk and we were happy to prove that we could.
To add more pressure, the neighborhood girls often gathered in groups to see the action. There was no turning back when they showed up. Our manhood was on the line. Hold tight to the handle bars. Deep breath. Turn the pedals. The crowd below waited in hushed anticipation.
The wind whistled as we made our decent. It’s pitch would get higher and higher. The plastic wheels had no traction, slipping and sliding on the asphalt driveway. Trying to steer was futile. Speed and trajectory were key. We would use our feet to control both.
When we hit the ramp, it was fight or flight. Do we stay with our steed or bail? It was an instinctive reaction to jump off while in mid air and most did. But the true daredevils stayed with it. It’s you and your trusty steed until the end.
While in the air you see a lot of things. The creek below. The smiles on your friends faces. The terrified looks on the girls faces. While soaring over the chasm, our short lives flashed before our eyes.
Glory and fame waited on the other side. For those who make it, you became a hero, a legend. But to my recollection, no one did. Instead of safely making it across, we usually found ourselves waist deep in the creek or broken and bruised among the rocks on the bank. There was rarely a heroes welcome.
Chunks of Big Wheel were scattered among the rocks after many a summer of failed attempts. Like a boneyard, we would find a cracked wheel here and a bent pedal there. The carnage was real. So was the joy.
Even though we never made it across the creek, we still celebrated. Because we tried. We had the guts to launch.
Shouldn’t we have this childlike courage as adults? Are you ready to launch?
Take a deep breath. Hold on tight. Turn the pedal.
No guts, no glory.