Thursday, December 13, 2018

Wild


I like wild.

The trouble I got myself into included wild. Wild is part of the reason I kept going back. The trouble I got myself into was trouble because what I was doing was wrong and the wild part of it was wrong as well. Even though that is true wild is not always wrong.

In order to subdue my harmful desires there are boundaries and rules. Certain people have permission to ask probing questions and they come in various forms.
  •   How are you doing resisting tempting lustful thoughts? Have you looked when you shouldn’t?
  •  Do you really need to check your 401k everyday?
  •  Are you sure eating that way is healthy? How many drinks have you had this week?
  •  Are you working as hard as you could be?
  •  Have you reacted in anger to your family, friends or coworkers?
  •  Are you looking for something else when what you have is good enough to meet your needs?
  •  Are you doing what you do because it feeds your ego?

 Lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, anger, envy and pride - the things that could kill me.

I wonder if I can ever be good enough. Is perfection the only standard? If so I am doomed. Are these fences to protect another’s yard? Or are they a cage for the animal - taking what was once wild and making it tame?

Why can't you, be more like your older brother
Why can't you, do a little more for Jesus
Blood pressure
Do better!

 - Mutemath, Blood Pressure

I’m growing fond of broken people
Cause I see that I am one of them

- Mutemath, Pins and Needles

I hiked with my son into the mountains. We carried everything we needed to survive for a couple of days on our backs. I enjoyed so many parts of it. The strenuous walk through the snow. The warmth of a campfire while sipping a wee dram. The companionship of my son. The beauty of the fourteen thousand foot peaks surrounding the valley we camped in. Seeing the moose graze by the clear stream in the morning. I loved it because it was wild.

In the morning when I am at work I walk from my room through the desert for 2 miles to my office. In the evening I walk back. There is a bus that I refuse to ride. I do this in the summer heat and in the winter cold. I avoid barking dogs and a local who tried to hit me with his car. I enjoy it because it keeps me healthy. I like that people think that doing it is strange and even a bit noble and it feeds my ego. I need the mental space without people for my mind to wander and either prepare for or decompress from my day.

When I am at home I walk through the hills in the Texas hill country. I like that there are sweeping views. I like that the walk is steep in places. I sometimes see whitetail deer. I feel like this is the place I am supposed to be because the air smells like home. More than anything I love my daily walks when I am away for work and when I am at home because they are wild.

I work out most mornings. I ride a stationary bike. I row on a rowing machine. I ‘run’ on an elliptical. I walk/run on the treadmill. I lift weights. I don’t do all of those things every day. I work out because it makes me healthy. I like the feeling of sweating. I enjoy when I feel strong. And I like the way consistent exercise makes me look. More than any reason I do it because there is an aspect of wild in a good work out.

I dug a hole a bit over 44 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep just far enough away from the back porch. I removed rocks and dirt. I leveled the bottom of the hole and poured in paving sand and then started building a circle of brick pavers. Once the bricks were three layers thick and protruded from the ground couple of inches I put red lava rock in the bottom. I took flat rocks from the yard and paved the ground around it. In the dark of the morning after the fire pit was completed I built the first fire in it. I sat in a chair and stared into the glow and felt the warmth while I drank my morning coffee. I enjoyed seeing the thing I had built serve its purpose. I felt a sense of accomplishment of having conceived of and constructed something with my hands. I love our fire pit because there is something primal about a fire. I love it because it is wild.

Wrong is wrong.

Sometimes wild is wrong.

Sometimes wild is so right.

Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he is good. - C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

..you can’t escape it - there is something wild in the heart of every man. - John Eldredge, Wild at Heart


Sunday, December 02, 2018

Searching and Fearless


We made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.

List strengths and list weaknesses in every aspect and time-frame of life.

I am so weak.

Some know me and love me in spite of who I am.
Some barely know and believe I should be despised.

Who knows who I really am?

I want to be perfect.
I am not perfect.
Why can't I be perfect?

Is it okay that I am still in process?

For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. -David the King of the Jews

And in my dreams I come out clean
When I reach the other side
West of where the sun sets
Where rainbows never die
- The Steeldrivers

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. - Paul the Apostle of Jesus

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Desire

I work hard. I am good at my job, really good, and yet I am not paid the salary that matches my skill. If I had just a little more money I would be able to have the house that would be the envy of my guests. My car would not just be reliable, it would shout who I am to all of those who see me drive it. If I was paid what I am worth my wife and I could go out every once in a while for the dates we both desire. Is it too much to ask to live a life of comfort instead of worrying about finances? That would be the life.
Oh, to live the minimalistic life. A life of simplicity in a small house in the woods by a stream. I would eat the food I harvest from my own garden and enjoy eggs for breakfast from the chickens that live free range in my yard. I would only use the electricity produced from the solar farm in my open field. Living on just the basics I would require very little from the world around me. All the while enjoying the simple things like sitting in a porch swing and watching the sun go down. Money would not be important to me because I would not need much. That would be the life.

My world would be a better place if I could just have a few close friends who know absolutely everything about me and I know all there is to know about them. Despite the knowing we would still be close friends. I want to have friends who mutually share joy, hardships, food, drink and intellectual conversation.
The best place to live is in a world of my own making. To be alone. How can I know myself and know the true nature of God if I don't spend time exploring the depths of my mind, emotions and soul. To examine self in relation to everything around me in silence and solitude. To live a life of joy in my own company. To know what there is to know and do what there is to do ... all by myself.

I long for a romantic long term committed relationship with one person who will be at my bedside or I will be at theirs when one of us dies. I want to be with the person God assigned just for me from the foundation of creation. The one I can stick with through the joy and pain. No matter what comes we will be together forever.
I don't think they understand me. Maybe we committed ourselves to a lifelong relationship in haste without understanding. There is so much hurt and so many things we may never be able to get beyond in our relationship. Maybe we would both be better off if we would end it here and go out on our own. It's okay to blame it on me if it means we can both be free. "I know its hard to say 'throw it all away' but the odds are we'll be better off." -Mutemath

I ache to travel the world. To see the sights. To smell the smells and taste the food  and listen to the languages of other cultures. I have to walk the mountains, feel the sticky salt air of the oceans, taste the wine, coffee and whisky, and sleep under the moon and stars of the places unfamiliar to me.
What I really need is to be home in front of a fire in the cool of autumn. To work a garden and build a fence and improve by my own hand the land that is mine. To mold it to my will where it is my place. The place in the world I call my own and will live and never leave until the day I die.

"The fever's getting higher ... desire." U2

" Daddy, I want a squirrel." - Veruca Salt, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

"We are limited in every way but one: we have unlimited desire." - Kent Dunnington

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."  - Paul the Apostle of Jesus

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Denial

"It's an occasional indulgence that does not control me" I say in a dismissive tone.

Setting it aside for a time feels right. It allows me to test myself and be at peace with who I am.

Indulging whenever there is a whim is to be like a child. Rub my beard and remember that I am a man.

Seeing the world differently when the lens of my desire is removed is a refreshing sight.

Eventually savoring it when it is enjoyed in its proper place is a hopeful aspiration.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I Walk Alone and Wonder

I walk alone back to my room across the desert with the wind blowing sand in my eyes. Just Look at this Mess sings in my ears as I blink fast to try and clear the blur on my contacts.

I lie like the color of the rainbow
I cheat like the daisies in the field

As the words roll around in my head I wonder how they apply to me.

I walk alone on the steep incline of the treadmill. I am face the gym mirror, not because I am vain - although I might be - but because all of the treadmills face the mirrors. As I pick up the pace and jog for three minutes I wonder what lies I am telling myself.

I walk alone in a dream and a whisper in my head tells me I am no longer the one for anyone.I feel the separation in a new way. I sit in the vulnerability like I am told I must. Since I have lied I wonder if I was ever the one for anyone at all.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Good on ya old man!


I haven’t been running. I didn’t stop running because I didn’t want to run. I stopped running because I couldn’t run. I ran The Maze on the last Saturday in March. Then I ran very little the month of April and May because I knew I needed the rest.

When I decided to start back I felt fully recovered and nothing hurt so threw myself in to running as if I had never taken any time off. After five days of running and a hard day of work in the yard my left knee told me that enough was enough.  I went for a run on a Monday morning and my knee hurt each time my left foot hit the ground. I thought “no big deal. I will take a couple of days off and be just fine. But that was not the case. The fleshy part in the back of my knee hurt. I tried mixing in running with walking. I added a knee brace when it didn’t get better. And then all I could do was walk. My knee didn’t hurt went I was not running but any impact at all caused me to stop in my tracks.

After a couple of months of struggling and making no progress towards healing my knee Andrea told me, “What advice would you give someone else? You would tell them to take ibuprofen, wear a good brace and take time off.” She is the smart one.

So I took off with no running at all for almost a full month.

On September 3rd I put my knee brace on and had high hopes that everything would be okay and I would be able to run like the wind. I took my first steps out of the driveway and walked to warm up and then I tried to run. It was not pretty. The pain was different but there was still pain. And I sulked. The further I walked the more disappointed I got. There were other people running that morning and I was just mad at them. Why is it they get to run and not me?

An older man ran by across the street from me and I secretly wanted him to trip. If I can’t run nobody else should be able to either. I started thinking how stupid I was being. At least I can walk. And I should be happy for the old man. So I thought “Good on ya old man!” as the Kiwis would say.

For the rest of the walk I thought about maybe never being able to run again on a regular basis. I knew it would come someday but not when I am only 48 years old. Why would I miss it so much?

While I was off I lifted weights. I would do 20 second repeats of 18 different exercises in rapid succession to try to keep my cardio up. I did push-ups, pull-ups and planks. So what was the difference? Why wasn’t that enough?

Strength training in my garage was about staying in shape, which is good. Running helps me stay in shape. But when it comes down to it the thing that draws me to running is that it is an adventure. It is a journey every day. There are some places we have either visited or lived where the journey is much more fun and the adventure is more grand but even in a subdivision in Pearland there is enough journey and adventure to make me want to come back to run as many mornings as possible. To run on the golf course and look across the man-made lake to where the thin glow on the horizon is a sign that a new day is coming is enough for now.

Since September 3 I have gotten out every other day and my knee feels better. I am still walking and running but I can tell that my knee is healing. I am going to try to be patient and get my adventure back. Then someday a random younger person will tell me “Good on ya old man!”

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Mount Taylor 50k

Jakeb got me into this mess. He told me that we had to run a trail race. A 50k. So we looked and looked. We had to find a race that happened in the fall but it had to be before October because a baby is coming. We found a race in New Mexico - The Mount Taylor 50k. It was at the right time. It is a 50k. It is run completely on dirt, in the mountains, all over 9000 feet elevation, over Mount Taylor at 11301 feet with 7000 feet elevation gain overall. So we signed up and started to train.

Very early on in the training Jakeb hurt his foot and could not run the race. But he told me he still wanted to come along. I flew to Lubbock and then together we drove to Grants, New Mexico for the race.

Race morning was awesome. Jakeb and I stood at the starting line and the weather was cool, the sky was clear and there were more stars in the sky than I have seen in a long time.

Pre-race instructions were given through a bull horn. I hugged Jakeb and someone yelled “Go!”

We ran downhill for a really short distance and then headed uphill immediately toward La Mosca Lookout. Running was not an option. It was a power hike all the way up the hill. The idea is that you will top the hill as the sun comes over the horizon as the Navajo tradition is to run to meet the sun. But by the time I got there the sun was well over the horizon so I met it but I was just a little later than the Indians.

After topping the lookout at over 10000 feet the trail went down and then started rolling for the rest of the loop back to the start finish at mile 16. The Continental Divide Trail is part of the course and it is soft single track that was fun to run when I could and walk when it was too steep.

Leaving the start finish aid station I knew I would have to climb up to Mount Taylor but I had no idea how brutal it would be. I ran/walked the trail to the Gooseberry aid station at mile 21. Trader Joe’s was responsible for the aid station set-up and they had turkey, cheese and mustard wrapped in a tortilla. I was grateful for something savory because Gu, fruit and candy was getting old.

Leaving the aid station at mile 21 the course immediately sloped up. A mile and a half later the course breaks out of the trees and goes straight up. I would walk 10 or 20 steps and have to stop and rest. After hiking this way for what seemed like forever the trail turned into a series of switch-backs that provided some relief but not much. I was in a foul mood. Who designs a course that makes you run (and walk) 21 miles and then sends your worn-out self straight up an 11000 foot mountain? Someone who is sadistic – that’s who.

After toping Mount Taylor I was able to run down to the Caldera Rim aid station. There were veggie tortillas with avocado at this aid station and they were awesome. Then the aid station volunteer told me I had to run a four mile loop through Water Canyon before I could run the 2 miles to the finish. This didn’t make me any happier and I mostly walked the loop. It was three miles down, which I probably could have run but didn’t, and one mile up. So needless to say the one mile up was crazy steep and again brutal.

Once I finished the loop I only stopped at the aid station long enough for them to record my number and then mostly ran the last two miles.

I finished in 8:34:22. My only goal was to finish. The time I ran reflects the training I put into this race. Could I run it faster? I am sure I could. Will I try? I don’t know. There are other races to run so I may not come back to this one. If Jakeb decides he wants to try it I may come back because it is worth it to hang out with him. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely!