Friday, August 12, 2011

Of Whaling Ships and Hula Hoops

Every boy dreams of being/doing something heroic. No boy wants to pass the ball to the guy who makes the winning shot or to save the cat while the beautiful girl perishes in the disaster. Boys want to be soldiers, firefighters, and policemen; not lawyers, accountants, and teachers. But over time, something sucks out our willingness to charge hard after windmills. I cannot remember the the last time I slept on deck (the front hallway), harpoon (broom handle) at the ready, eager to climb the rigging (Timmy's jungle gym), to hunt whales (hula hoops), at first light (after breakfast). [One of my earliest boyhood memories.] As the years go by we seem to get weighed down and distracted by the cares and concerns of living adult lives that seem devoid of the heroic and overflowing with the ordinary.

William Wallace is credited with saying "All men die, few men truly live." So how does one truly live in the midst of regular life? After all, someone needs to be the lawyers, accountants, and teachers. Not everyone can be soldiers, firefighters, and policemen. So is truly living beyond the grasp of regular people? I don't believe so. Since most of us cannot just forget our responsibilities and run off to hunt "whales", truly living must take place in the midst of the regular responsibilities of adult life.

I think that this may be part of the attraction of bike racing--a chance to do something out of the ordinary in the midst of regular life. Perhaps not heroic, but at least out of the ordinary. When I am on the track or out on the road I feel like I am moving into a world that is more like "whaling" than like lawyering. To be sure, bike racing is a hobby. But then, so was hunting whales.

I do not hope to escape William Wallace's "all men die", but one way or the other I will truly live--at least in enough of life to cast an "heroic" hue to the ordinary.

Pressing On,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Footprints in the Sand -- but not that one

Walking along the beach this morning at about sunrise put me in a reflective mood. About 25 minutes down the beach one way and another 25 back. When I made the turn I noticed something--my footprints were gone. All week I have been reminded of the relentless nature of the sea. Waves crashing against the beach with seemingly no effort--again and again and again. No need to take a rest or to stop for supper. Just a continuous pounding on the shore.

I felt like I was walking pretty fast down the beach. Working hard. Making progress. Making tracks. But the relentless sea didn't care how hard I worked or how far I may have come or how quickly I got there. It just wiped the beach clean of my footprints.

As a somewhat driven person, I have this desire to make a difference in the world--to make a mark in important things that is hard to erase. But this morning got me thinking--is that a goal worth pursuing? Making a mark in the world?

I am not advocating an approach of simply sitting on the beach and letting life pass me by in the warm sunshine. Instead, what if I did my beach-walking, but without the expectation or hope that my footprints will endure? Might that make the beach-walking more pleasant, more enjoyable along the way? Doesn't mean that I would not do the work of walking down the beach, or living life, or developing professionally. But maybe a different look at beach-walking would give me a different perspective on the walk itself. Instead of being intent on preserving my footprints--which ARE getting washed away in any case--I can place a higher value on my surroundings and on the journey itself.

What a novel thought--enjoying the journey just for the journey's sake.

Pressing On,