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Life's Hurddles  
05:22am 11/01/2009
 
 
papabehr

           I have a number of moments in my life that from time to time flashback to me out of my subconscious, sometimes they are positive, but more often they are of the variety that make me cringe and make me wanna beat myself up again for being such clueless dolt. One of those few bright moments that I sometimes allow myself to reflect on hearkens back to my time as a would-be athlete.

            At the time I was a senior in high school and at the peak of my overall physical condition, at least in my life so far. I'm currently in a valley that I fell in from that peak over the course of the last ten years and hiking my way out of the wilderness but keep getting lost. (stupid compass)

Anyways, at my very last track meet I participated in a Decathlon. For all of you who are only vaguely aware that track and field does exist somewhere outside of the Olympics every four years, a decathlon is an track meet that runs ten different events in the hopes of finding the best "overall" athlete. In other words we are looking for the best "jack of all trades" in track and field. What that often means to the participants is that they must do their best in some sports that they may not be totally comfortable in but need to at least seem capable in, or in my case avoid looking like a complete jack ass while doing them.

It was in my preparation for this meet that I became acquainted with a piece of equipment known as a high hurdle, essentially a bar that is raised to about a little over waist high. The purpose of these obstacles, in "theory", is to force the runner to jump completely over them while maintaining as smooth and fast a stride as possible before crossing the finish line. As is so often the case in many theories it is heavily dependant on some basic premises being true. For example it erroneously assumes that each participant can not only run in a straight line but also while running in that straight line use the kinetic energy being exerted to rise more than an inch over the ground to clear the hurdle. As so often has been the case in my life I soon found out that I was the exception to that rule.

Woohoo! Here's to being exceptional!

 

Well regardless of this seeming impediment I decided give it the good ol' college try anyways. I went for it for two reasons. The first reason was that if I was going to have any shot at finishing the contest anywhere other than dead last I had to participate in ten events. While its true that I had a choice of events between the 110m hurdles and the pole vault I thought I had a much better shot at the hurdles. In my mind it came down to a simple equation. Do I think I can jump a foot in the air while running? Or, do I think I can hurl my body full blast at a ditch in the ground using a ten foot pole to catapult myself over a flimsy bar several feet up in the air without knocking it over on the way down? Guess which one I chose.

The other reason I stuck it out with the hurdles was that in practice at least I felt like I was managing to make enough progress that I might be able to clear the damn things, even if at an admittedly slower pace. Oh, how strong denial can be sometimes. How foolish I was to allow visions of mediocrity dance through my head.

Preparations aside, the day of the race arrived and being young and naïve as I was I was feeling fairly excited and confident going into the race. Just before the race I went over in my head how I wanted run every part of the race and the proper technique I needed to use to get the most out of my body. I took my place at the starting line, set myself up in the starting blocks with butterflies in my stomach.  The next thing I know a split second has passed and the starting gun has gone off. Over the course of that split second every bit of preparation I had made vanished from my mind. I mean, every scrap of memory revolving how to run that race completely disappeared. It was a trick that would have made Houdini proud. In its place nothing was left but pure primal panic and fear. I frantically shot up out of my crouch, desperate to keep the other runners from leaving me in their dust. I imagine that had someone been tape recording the race they would have noticed looking back at the tape that the stout runner in lane 5 had such a look of terror on his face that you wouldn't really think he was racing against the other runners so much as running for dear life.

Facial expressions aside however, the start of the race could have been worse.   I had my adrenaline up and I was ready to take flight down the runway en route with the finish line. Flight 197 Air Track Boy was ready for take-off. That's when I reached the first hurdle.

Now when done properly the leg kick used to clear a hurdle can a beautiful thing to behold with as much grace and elegance of movement that you might see a ballerina employ, just at a much higher rate of speed of course. I however did not employ my leg kick properly. My leading leg could only manage to flair out just enough up and in front of me to scrape above the first hurdle while my second leg which was supposed to come over the side after it couldn't even do that. The result was a hard knee to the clearance bar of the hurdle swiftly followed by an even harder smash of the face to the artificial track surface. I got a good sample of the recycled tires they used to make the track. It tasted pretty much as you might expect for any of you who might be wondering, though I'm sure the metallic taste of blood also in my mouth must have thrown the flavor off a bit as well.

You might recall at the very beginning of this whole little odyssey that I've been leading you through that I said this was a happy recollection. And despite all evidence to the contrary so far, it is. Honest to god, I still smile about it and not just sheepishly for the shear embarrassment of it. Though after the race I do recall being able to cook an egg off the surface of my face. What makes me smile is that after I made my first tumble, and all the rest that would come to follow, I immediately popped up and started running again. I refused to give in, walk off and not finish. I worked too hard and too long to have my last track meet be tarnished by a race that I knew I could finish but didn't want to because of a few scraps and bruises. It was that determination and grit that I used to motivate myself to trip, stumble and stagger across the finish line a winner. 

Not a literally winner of course, I finished dead last in my heat, but a winner none the less.

There is something positive to be said for perseverance I think. With so much emphasis in society placed on immediate results and gratification it is easy to over look the admirable attributes of people who may not be the most naturally gifted but can keep on fighting to get them where they want to go in spite of what roadblocks may lie in front of them. It takes true strength to face adversity and be able to say the hell with it, I'm going to do the best I can and should I fall short of my goal at least I know I poured every ounce of myself into it. I can't speak for anyone else but for me it is those people whom I respect most in life.

mood: determineddetermined
 
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If I paint a picture with words is it necessarily a poem?(  
02:06pm 07/04/2008
 
 
papabehr
 

I'm not exactly sure what I did but I like it, it sounds nice and makes me happy so really what more could I ask.  I tried to emphasis imagery and symbolism and hopefully I pulled it off.   For those of you lost as to what could be sybolic then pay attention to the butterfly.  I've already gotten one thumbs up from one very important reviewer and now I'm going to gauge public reaction.  Granted I need to work on form, but be that as it may it's a good start.  So without further ado here is my first attempt at creative writing in many a year. Bon Apetite!

Gently the sun lingered as its glowing orange beams caressed the horizon.  With the last waves of humidity flowing over their bodies, small beads of moisture imperceptibly accumulating on their glistening faces.  A brief breeze grants a momentary reprieve from summers engulfing presence.  The familiar rolling hills covered in majestic Oaks, Hemlocks and Ash subconsciously replay the scenes of two young adventurers exploring the depth of their mysteries. 

Meanwhile time unexpectedly disengages as it slows to a crawl, skipping a beat or two.  A fluttering phantom materializes supernaturally from the forests depths, its wings playing with the diminishing light and rising shadows, alternating a penetrating black with striking silver sheen.  It at last lands on its limestone pedestal.  Its features are oddly alien with its elongated body and probing antennae and yet regal with a quiet elegance.  It unfurls its black velvet wings in all their glory revealing delicate splashes of dandelion. 

With the last tendrils of sunlight extinguished and a quick flourish the night took back the spectral visitor, a strange new wonder in their heart was left in its wake along with an indescribable void.  Almost in silent answer an awesome disc started to fill the sky surrounded by thousands of sparkling points of light.  Reassured, two uncertain hearts beat as one.

 
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An Easter Reflection  
10:28am 23/03/2008
 
 
papabehr

     Why focus so much on Jesus’ sacrifice if a) he knew he was going to the kingdom of heaven and b) both before and since there have been those who have been made to suffer just as much if not more.  This does not mean I don’t appreciate what he did, far from it.  Instead I just feel the type, of selfless act should be celebrated more than any one Being.  Celebrate the spirit of the act  even more than the individual spirit itself, as great as that spirit may be.  Perhaps it is because we all need something to focus on or else our attention is lost and something important is forgotten.  Maybe that is the difference between us and God, when in comparison to one another we have spiritual ADD and he doesn’t,  not that I think it is really our fault.  In terms of longevity we are a collection of sparks that produce the flame of the world, flickering in and out.  While God must endure, tending the flame.

 
 
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Being a face in the crowd  
02:08pm 27/02/2008
 
 
papabehr
      Where is that blurry line that needs to be walked between being assertive and confident without imposing your will on someone?  Win at all costs?   There is no such thing.  There is no more hollow feeling than when you've pushed someone you like into submission.  What have you gained?  You've gained a resentful servant to your will. (yay you, congratulations)  You mix that with what has been my problem for most of my life of not being confident enough in myself to be consistantly social and you have two extremes with negative outcomes.

     So where lies the solution?  Where is that euphoric middle ground that seems to come so effortlessly to some people?  It almost feels like I'm friendly to everyone but friend to no one.  When will it be time for someone else to invite me into the crowd instead of having to infuse myself? 

     I've always heard friendship is a two way street and I seem to continue down a one way cul de sac.  I gotta imagine its something I'm doing wrong because I've seen people develop circles of friends that are willing to hang out with them regularly.  It seems the best I can do is earn a smile, an ocassional nice word and thats it.  "See you at the next practice, meeting, work shift."  I ask someone to do something fun that I've just gotten to know and one of two outcomes seem to keep popping up.  The first result is that it is put off and forgotten, the next is I bring it up too much and the idea seems less attractive to the person beinga asked.

     I appologize to those of you who started to read this blog in search of some bit of wisdom.  The truth is I'm just as lost and I felt like sharing the feeling.  So yeah your shoulder just got cried on whether you wanted it or not.  Chalk another one up for imposed will. 

 
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Sex sells...Hope!  
03:34pm 26/02/2008
 
 
papabehr

For a while now there has been a void in my life, a feeling that somehow my life was incomplete and just would not be whole.  It was only today that the hot flash of realization struck my mind… There are no longer scantily clad women on my tv hinting at wanting to satisfy my every carnal fantasy if I only drank their preferred choice of beer.  How could I be so blind to the absence of this essential tool to my hopes of one day propagating with the opposite sex as well as my very self esteem?  But beyond that I’m sure their disappearance must be wreaking havoc upon the male nerd and dork population that were already desperately clinging to the thin hope that despite their social short comings a partner not connected to their wrist was out there waiting to be found.  How will this void be filled?  Where have all those beautiful girls gone along with the promise they brought.

It was not long before I fell into a deep depression caused by the inevitable sense of loss for the world.  I had to take my mind off the social void that these goddesses of Inebriation left behind.  So I made my way to MySpace, thinking what better place to let the social healing begin.  Myspace, where on any given night I could make thousands of new friends with the simple click of the mouse, all while looking at some of the hot pictures on the websites of some of those more persistent friends on my list.  But before I could commence my private exercise regime, I was provided the answer to all my questions.

There she was, staring intently at her computer while giggling every so often as she would lean a little closer to the screen providing a gratuitous shot down her outstretched shirt.  There was no mistaking her, she and her fellow lonely friends are the next generation, the ones to fill the void created by Janet Jackson’s breast and the FCC.  Hope may yet still exist for the universe and its young roots grow stronger every day in a land of hope called Match.com.  It is a magical place where even the lowliest guy can hope to find a mega hottie of their own around every corner.  A girl who will hang on to every word as you tell them how bored you were at work today and giggle at that witty knock, knock joke you came up with the other day.  Yes this is the hope of the next generation, take heart.  Thanks to ads like these, we all may still dream. (Be it wet or not)

 

 
 
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