Buck Naked Boy spends most of his life running to catch his older brother and sisters. A course of sheer frustration wrought with the reality that the only time he succeeds is when they slow down and wait for him. Unlike his sometimes gracious and patient siblings, life seldom slows and rarely waits. The faster we run to catch up, the more likely we are to trip on our shoelaces, which for me are universally un tied. Like BNB, I came into this world with my shoelaces flailing and flopping, threatening to send me headlong, and I'll probably leave this world in the same condition. Hopefully a little wiser in knowing when to pause and tie them when it really counts.
I got a call from the nurses office yesterday. It seems that the shoe laces had whipped up and tripped BNB, sending him sprawling into a desk which scraped his knee, his lip and bloodied his nose.
No real damage other than staining his shirt. The real problem is not that he lacks the skill to tie his laces, but rather that he currently insists on wearing a pair of shoes three sizes too big. He found these hand me downs when we were cleaning his room and now insists that they are his shoes. I can't dissuade him from his stubbornness, and so he wears those shoes. He actually has a black pair and a brown pair and sometimes, just for fun, he wears one of each, usually when dad has been in charge of the dressing ritual. You have to pick your battles, and since the mismatched, too big shoes aren't causing imminent harm, he's free to wear those shoes.
Another call from the nurse and we might re think that position. I hope he realizes soon that trying to run in shoes that are too big to fill is a precarious endeavor.
I've devoted many of my recent training hours trying to understand whose shoes I want to fill. Who am I chasing? Distinctly different from the ageless question "who am I", "what do I want to be?" is a more captivating issue for me. I have no intention spending a lifetime seeking "me", because that road leads to one day waking up with only me. I can't imagine becoming so enamored with myself that this would be very satisfying. No, the less of me the better. Mother Theresa, Amy Carmichal, Florence Nightengale, those are shoes I aspire to fill. Shoes I'd gladly and most likely trip in regularly. These courageous woman poured themselves out for others and in the end were far greater than the ones who pursued only "me"
To walk in those shoes is to answer the question "what do I want to be". Essentially, to this point I've answered that question satisfactorily by embracing what I am not. I am not an abuser. I am not wickedly cruel. I am not an unfaithful, backstabbing, belittling spouse. I am not a violent, perfectionistic, narcissist. I am not a detached, indifferent isolationist. I am not solely about me.
However, like in politics and life in general if your sole definition of self is "not" then eventually, that is all you are.
I don't want to be content with "not". I think a mistake that I have made to this point is to use training as a tool to solidify who I am not. Riding my bike 61 miles does not confirm my list of not, my list of not is inconsequential. I don't have to prove I am not, I already have. By the same token, it would be a mistake for me to allow my training and race success to define me, or really even endorse me. I want this training to be merely a process of refining me, of strengthening me in order to run with endurance towards who I want to be. More frankly, to be who God wants me to be.
Now, here is where I stumble. I am by nature a competitive person. I am by training a person who believes if you aren't winning you are losing and if you are not winning you are nothing. Thankfully that poison left my system for the most part years and years ago. So, I should restate that for the most part I was a person who believed that if your weren't winning you were losing and therefore worthless. It seems intuitively obvious that the people who were willing to beat you senseless and daily manhandle and abuse your soul with damaging words and neglect really aren't the ones who should set the economy for your value. But life is quirky in that way, and no matter how dysfunctional the parents, they own that monopoly until you are old enough to sell it to someone else. Here is the essential for me, I believe that God bought all of the stock options, and therefore sets the value of my worth, but that doesn't seem to erase the entire structure of prior management. I stumble when I believe that my performance, my success, establishes my worth. Then it's all about me. Case in point, I was nervous and nasty the morning of the century ride. I had something to prove to myself, God and man. Well one man in particular, a man who I haven't spoken to, other than to hang up the phone, in a dozen years. I had to prove that even by being "not" him I could still rise to the economy of value he set. When will I get it through my head that there is no economy and there is no value. The rain wasn't the only thing making that ride miserable.
I want bigger shoes to fill. I want better shoes to fill. While trying to fill a pair of shoes that are too big is a precarious endeavor, it beats the hell out of fretting over shoes you outgrew long ago.
2400 yard L/T training swim Monday, 1:30 bikeride Tues (garmin said I travelled 38 miles with an average speed of 24.8, I suspect Lance will be calling any day)
Have a great one