right now

I wrote a post about Walt Stack yesterday that got me thinking.

The wheels were turning….the rust was flying.

While I was thinking, I thought of the phrase “I’m not there right now…”

What a great phrase!

It really let me off the hook.

Of course, it’s obvious that I’m not “there” right now. I sit and drive the mail, I sit and write this blog, I sit and watch other people carve out an existence in the deep north woods….I sit and watch funny people do funny things.

I sit.

I don’t get up at 2 in the morning and run 17 miles…or swim in the icy bay off the coast of California.

That’s not where I’m at right now.

The deeper I got into that phrase, though, the more I liked it.

It gives the false and nebulous impression that I might have been somewhere like it at some point in my life.

I was a world-class endurance athlete….sometime in the past….before I started “sitting” all the time.

Of course, that’s not true. I was a turtle….slow and steady….enjoying the wind on my face as I shuffled through another mile.

I wasn’t “elite” at anything.

But people don’t know that. They might think that I’ve retired from competition….or that I’m just taking a short break from being a world beater.

And, on the other end of the statement, it makes it seem that when the break is over, I’ll hit it hard again and burst from my shell and fly.

So…one magic phrase is explanation, excuse….and promise.

That works for me.

Of course, in Walt Stack’s case, I’m sure that one morning….maybe one very hungover morning, considering his habits…..he slipped into a pair of sneakers and walked and then ran out his front door to start a decades long odyssey.

He wasn’t….and then he was.

A wave of the hand….a blink of his eye….and he was off and running.

None of this happens by accident…none of this happens “to us”….but we don’t become something “grand” all at once, either.

I’m not there right now.

What’s the old phrase? “Wherever you go….there you are.”

Wherever….and always “someplace”.

The little spark that makes a little flame that makes the frog jump off the log…..no, that’s another story….that either makes something that warms and uplifts….or burns your house down.

“or burns your house down”? Crap….that’s not good.

That’s bad.

I stand and stare at the elephant with a fork in my hand….forgetting what I’ve heard about a “bite at a time”.

All I can see is what the end is supposed to be….to the point where I can’t make the little chunk I’m living “right now” better.

I need a better pair of reading glasses….I’m missing stuff that’s close at hand….I’m missing some details….I can’t read the instructions.

I’m not there right now.

It’s hard to be “present”….between what I remember about the past, and what I’m trying to figure out about the future, it’s hard to live in the moment.

I love the cloudy promise of a phrase like “I’m not there right now”.

I can make it if I can just figure out how to jump out of my own way.

I already know that.

Right now.

“Bail My Boat” David Wilcox

Walt Stack

This is the first ever “Just Do It” ad that Nike produced.

It features a guy named Walt Stack.

Yesterday, I used a picture in the blog of a ripped old dude.

I knew that it wasn’t Walt Stack….but it jogged my memory a little, and helped me remember what an amazing story Walt’s was.

Here’s a guy who didn’t start running until he was 57….and then didn’t stop until shortly before his death at 87.

His consistent morning routine….he started at 2 AM….was to get up, ride his old bike 7 miles to the Golden Gate Bridge, then run across to Sausalito and back….a 17 mile run….then swim a mile in the waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Everyday.

Everyday.

Everyday.

Every single day.

Every day of his life.

If you think that it’s hard to read something like that….just imagine doing it and being that consistent.

He holds the record for the slowest Ironman Triathlon finish in Hawaii….26 + hours….riding the 112 mile biking portion of the race on his single speed basketed granny bike…and stopping to eat a full waffle breakfast before completing the final running stage the next morning.

The race organizers established cut off times after that.

His motto was “Start slow…and then taper off”.

Apparently, he was also an enthusiastic drinker…and would sometimes carry a six-pack with him on some of his marathons….finishing the beer well before the end of the race.

You probably shouldn’t attempt to emulate that part of his story.

waltstack

This guy was a legend and an inspiration in the San Francisco running community.

Here’s an excellent tribute that I found on the internet that must have been written/compiled shortly after Walt’s passing.

The picture at left is from that tribute.

Every day.

Every day.

E…ver….y day.

Imagine that.

Walt Stack….what a dude.

the perfect postal employee

old_man

I don’t understand what they mean by “going postal”.

I mean, I’m glad that I don’t “get it”….that would be a bad thing.

I guess that some people get pretty upset when they fully realize that they’re just a cog in a big and impersonal machine.

But not me….I thrive on “cogginess”.

I’ve got a little core of individuality that nobody can touch, anyway.

Nobody sees it and nobody touches it.

It’s my secret place.

But this “going postal” thing is bothersome.

I don’t hear about a lot of damage caused by postal employees….but we have a reputation for being tightly wound springs….ready to go off while we’re driving around listening to reggae music.

I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

I might go off over something….but it won’t be about the mail.

“Going Postal”? Pshawwww.

What a bunch of weirdness. Why don’t they say “going ‘meat packing plant’ ” more often? That seems to be where the problem is….not the Post Office.

I was thinking this morning that I’m turning into the perfect Postal employee.

My eyes are getting bad and I’m feeling stiff and my middle looked suspiciously soft when I snuck a glance at myself in the mirror after my last shower.

I’m turning into the perfect mushroom who can stand sitting in a car waving his arms around with pieces of paper in his hands.

I’m perfect for the job.

Now, I may not be the most organized character around….I may not know all the rules…but I care about my customers and do my best to take care of them.

That’s kind of fun to handle things in a way where I don’t get in trouble for doing a bad job.

That’s a good thing.

This physical transformation is wacky to see.

I’m getting older.

Then I started to wonder if that downward slide towards soft and stiff (what’s that? an oxymoron?) was something that could be avoided?

Is that inevitable that we get kind of “old” when we get kind of old?

I know that doing the mail is pretty inactive.

I move around and stuff…but aerobically, delivering the mail is not at the top of the list of fitness encouraging occupations.

I’m a Postal Slug….like all the rest of them.

But is all of these physical changes something that I have no control over?

Is it Father Time who is doing this to me…..or just slugginess?

Can I fight this transformation without “going postal”?

I am going to have to sit at the computer and really spend a lot of time researching exactly how to combat the effects of sitting at a computer or sitting at work and the damage it causes to me….physically.

Or, maybe, I should just sit back on a porch somewhere and sip my ice tea and revel in the exchange of wisdom for my youthful vitality?

Maybe that’s when the real aging takes over? When we accept that we are OLD….and let nature take over and run its course all over us?

All I know for sure is that I’m changing….morphing….evolving like a radiated X-man or something…turning into Postal Slug.

I’m changing….every day.

match your eight

frisbee-dog

Jenny was talking about something the other day and I’m not sure I heard her right the first time.

She used the words “match your eight” in her sentence.

“Match your eight”?

What’s that about?

It took a while, but I figured out that she’d said “maturate”.

Maturate?

What’s that about?

I’m kidding….I know what that’s about.

Maturing as a human being…..right?

That’s kind of hard.

I mean…..really kind of hard.

To do.

Of course, if you play the game correctly and surround yourself with the trappings….do some of the “old” things…do what’s expected of you….the world might get the impression that you’re “mature”.

If you slow down long enough for people to notice, they might think that you are one really mature person in a crowd of youthful posers.

If you really slow down long enough, they might think that you’re the “real deal”….a fully realized and completely finished mature human being.

I carry a secret inside my high top Converse sneakers, though….I’m a poser.

I’m getting older….but I can’t “match your eight”.

I can take on responsibilities….I can give myself an ulcer with worry about meeting those responsibilities….I can rise to the challenge like any concerned adult…but….

inside, I’m PETER PAN…flying around Neverland….looking for a dog and some kids to hang out with.

There’s nothing mature about that.

I’m not alone in that, though….there’s a lot of posers out there.

There’s a lot of folks who just won’t grow up.

It’s good that there’s enough smoke in the air to mask the details of all that immaturity.

What would we do without smoke and mirrors?

What did I read? That “childlike” is different than “childish”?

Maybe it’s good to hold onto some of the feelings I had when I was actually young?

Who said that we hit a point where we are GROWNUPS, anyway? Who said that we had to get older and then start to ACT OLD?

I think that there’s a big difference between “aging” and “acting old”.

I don’t want to start (or keep) acting old.

I have a couple of little kids in the house…I can’t be acting old, now, can I?

I can’t do a thing about the aging part of the deal.

That’s genetic.

But I can do something about the “acting old” part.

I’m not as afraid to grow up as I am to grow old inside my head.

I don’t want to be the angry old dog under the kitchen table….snapping at the young legs of the diners out of pure spiteful crankiness.

I want to be that dog that tries to catch the frisbee….while his owners say, “You know, he’s 14 years old….that’s pretty old for a big dog…”

“Match your eight”….that’s pretty funny.

Don’t give away my secret…it took a while to create this disguise.

The Blackest Little Norwegian Boy

I might have been 12 years old when my neighbor gave me 3 random 45s that his father was getting rid of.

It would have been right after we moved to Georgia….and it seems like I remember turning 13 that first year….so I might have still been 12 years old.

This song was one of the 3 singles that I was given.

I think that one was “Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson….and I can’t remember the other one.

I put this on my little record player…and was transported.

I was informed….I was influence….I was transfixed.

“BE BLACK, BABY, BE BLACK!”

Grady Tate!! A cool singing drummer….

That was something I never heard sitting around the table eating lefse.

That wasn’t a sentiment that made any sense in a Norwegian household.

Anyway, this song became the subject of much internal reflection.

“You’re walking down the street and everyone you meet is going to step to the side and stare… cause you’re feeling good and you know you should because there’s black cats everywhere!”

I’m quoting that from memory.

All these years later, I’m quoting that funk song from memory.

I didn’t know how that would feel….to see everyone “step to the side and stare”.

I am a little white man.

That song was so cool.

Of course, it could have gone the other way(s)….I did have 3 singles now, you know?

I could have obsessed over the cool King Crimson song….and spent all my time waiting for the Fire Witch to come back to the Court of the Crimson King.

It could have all gone down like that….instead of me fantasizing about strutting around going “hoo, hoo…” and imagining altering my pigmentation for the sake of being a little bit “cooler”.

It could have gone so many different ways.

This is the guy who wrote “Be Black, Baby”….Eric Kaz.

Who woulda thunk it.

 

 

it’s only flubber

flubber

My children and I watched “Flubber” tonight….the remake with Robin Williams.

It was pretty good….only pretty good, I suppose….but watching it helped me to remember just how good Robin Williams was.

He was really good in a cute, kind of forgettable movie.

When you’re playing against a cgi bit of green goo or a flying computer….and you generate the range of emotions that he was capable of…well, he was a better actor than I often gave him credit for.

There’s no need to endlessly eulogize Robin Williams.

He was pretty great…that’s established.

That’s a point that’s already been made and celebrated.

But there was a lot more to him than just another funny man.

There was more to him than “Mork”.

into the void

The best time to jump is when your mind is empty of what jumping means.

Another morning of bleary eyed wondering….and an empty mind.

Or maybe it’s a mind that’s so full of swirling thought that I don’t know what tidbit to grab onto and just write about?

I’ve heard “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”.

Maybe I should leave out the “nice” part and just keep my mouth closed….period.

Oh, what the heck.

I do what I want.

Shawn Colvin is a pretty great writer….good tunes….good consistently good tunes…but I bet she has moments where she looks down at her guitar….then back up at the page and the pencil….and wonders just what the heck she’s doing.

She’s probably a good editor.

She doesn’t broadcast those moments of indecision and uncertainty.

It all keeps circling back to what M.I. said his father told him…..”just DO SOMETHING…even if it turns out to be WRONG”.

Just put the wheels in motion and get the car pointed somewhere….maybe turn left on the map and stop when you see the ocean on the other side.

Just do something.

If you can’t focus and be directed….just go off willy nilly and “do something”.

Maybe that’s not such a good idea….but a moving target is hard to hit and it would give the appearance of achievement….

It might even make people sit up and think, “Why….that guy is a real GO GETTER”.

It shouldn’t make any difference in the short-term if they don’t know what you’re aiming at.

Just DO.

The “zen of frantic activitiy”.

Frantic activity…that’s pretty weird.

What the heck? Too much caffeine and a little time are a potentially dangerous pairing.

I guess that when you get down to it, you really do “make your own bed”….unless you’re a real slob and never make the bed….whatever, you lay down on that mattress at the end of the day and sleep….and then get up the next morning and do it all again.

Over and over.

And if all you have going is trying to get to McDonalds on Tuesday for a cheap hamburger….there’s not going to be much that’s really interesting to talk about at the end of the day.

There are goals out there that everyone can accept…quests….mysterious journeys that are worthier than a need to get a cheap hamburger.

Big roads and movement….spinning wheels that actually take us somewhere…time that works for us….efforts that connect and unify and enliven.

And the only thing that defines anything is how we perceive it.

That’s the only real power that we have….our perception.

Too much caffeine and a swirling mind….goofy stuff.

We make our lives as good as we know how.

I’d like to think that I could figure out how to make our lives even “MO’ BETTAH”.

Even Mo’Bettah.

ugly cover

book-ugly-american

I’ve been downloading all these free kindle books about business….and quitting your job….and entrepreneurship….and living in exotic locales after quitting your job….and getting money day after day through residual income.

I want to learn how to get something for doing nothing.

No….that’s not necessarily true.

I want to get something for an initial effort that I set up in a way that makes the money roll in for the rest of my life.

I want to start the ball rolling down the hill….and then get the money.

See? I have a plan.

The problem I have is that I really don’t know how to do any of it…yet.

I don’t even know what ball to push down the hill.

So, I get up in the morning and check the list…and download all these free books….like I’d have time to read any of them.

I think that what I’m hoping is that there will be some kind of secret hidden in one of these free books that will make me hop up and yell, “eureka!” ….or something.

This morning I noticed that I skip all the books that have ugly covers.

I need the flash of good design to attract me to something free.

I need a shiny lure.

But then I thought, “What if the secret to the universe was hiding behind something so plain as a cover that said something about….?” …..whatever.

I couldn’t get beyond the plain cover.

I couldn’t pull the plug and hit the button that said, “yeah….give me that free book….the ugly one….yeah, that’s the one…”

I couldn’t do it.

I had no interest in an ugly book.

AND THAT’S THE ONE WITH THE SECRET IN IT!!!!

All of my searching….all of my downloading….and I’m missing the boring but effective secret to the new rich method that would free me to live a life extraordinaire because I can’t get over how plain something looks.

This book downloading is just a distraction, anyway.

Why should I torment myself that somebody hid their secrets behind a deceptively boring cover?

I’m getting the feeling it’s not going to be in a little free book, anyway.

Maybe it’s just digging a ditch better than anyone else….and digging a whole lot of ditches….day after day….and then spending the money very wisely that you make digging the ditches….and saving what you can.

Maybe that’s the way to go.

Or….maybe it’s managing all the other ditch diggers…..setting them up with new ditch gigs and taking a little bit of a cut off the top?

Maybe it’s all about figuring out how to facilitate getting work for other people….and letting the millions roll in on the backs of the common working man?!

I could learn to sleep with myself if I was getting rich off the common man’s efforts.

I could learn to live with that.

I still can’t get beyond that ugly cover.

The truth may be in those pages….but I need something a little more attractive to make me want to pull the trigger.

I need some glitz before I’ll let someone teach me to be rich.

three things

I enjoy this guy’s videos on YouTube.

Here’s a simple way to break a big task into little tasks before…it becomes a big task.

It’s a good way to look at something that I have a problem with.

I can be kind of a slob.

And, on the other hand, if you put one thing away wrong….it becomes a bottleneck that all of the other logs get to jam up against until you can’t even reach the one thing that might have ended up in the proper place if I’d taken a minute to DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

Like I said….I could save a lot of time later if I was willing to spend a little bit of time to put things away correctly the first time.

these crickets

Cricket15-20130607104410167175-940x628

My little niece came to stay with us at our house in the mountains.

I think that it was a different sort of experience for her.

At one point in the visit, after it had gotten dark and all the nighttime creatures had started to make their nighttime sounds, she said, concerned, “What is that sound?”

I told her it was the crickets (after running through a couple of possibilities).

I think she was a little nervous about something that sounded so strange and foreign to her little ears.

That was a bunch of years ago….my “little niece” is grown and married now.

Things change….and the crickets are still around.

It’s so quiet here….no traffic noises or people on the street….we’re far enough away from the highway that we don’t hear that traffic noise…but it’s not completely silent.

There is a lot of living going on outside…lots of insect and animal noise if you listen to it.

There is so much life going on “outside” of my own life.

I’m the one I notice.

Me…and the people around me.

The people I love….and the ones who bump into my life….I notice them.

These bugs outside….I only notice them when I stop to pay attention.

There is a lot that I don’t notice.

My niece was a little bit afraid of something so strange….maybe “concerned” is a better word.

Maybe she wasn’t afraid….just a little bit concerned about something that she’d never experienced before?

When I explained that it was just a bug…just a bug that couldn’t “get her”….that was enough to calm her down….take away the fear of the unknown.

I’m afraid of what I don’t know….but I’m getting old enough to realize the volume of things that I don’t know would leave me in a perpetual state of panic if I let it….so I’m not really all that afraid most of the time.

There’s just too much to be afraid of if I was going to choose to be afraid of the unknown.

There’s too much that I don’t know.

I think that I’m getting wiser….I know that I don’t know now.

Like Clint Eastwood said, “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

I know a lot of mine…but they don’t all cripple me.

These bugs are out there….living their noisy morning lives…and I’m in here, typing away.

Each of us has our place in time…each of us takes up a temporary chunk of space….moving through our lives in our own way.

The Bible says “look at the birds of the field….” …what’s the exact verse? I’ll google it….Matthew 6:25-27…….

25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

Don’t worry….these bugs are out there…no matter how we perceive them, they are out there.

I’m glad to hear them.