Monday, December 30, 2013

Good Men Don't Need Rules

I'm not a guy who watches much television but Doctor Who will almost certainly be my favorite tv show ever (certainly a top Christmas gift in all of time and space was this year's TARDIS shower curtain). But in an episode where the hero is going to war, he warns his enemies that "Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."

Year's end is for many of us a time of reflection... magazines proclaim people of the year, facebook gives you your year in review (https://www.facebook.com/yearinreview/iramjleon). I personally look back at my 8 new year's resolutions (http://pickingupahitchhiker.blogspot.com/2013/01/resolved.html) and realize that the 3 that I didn't meet were somehow compensated accounted for and at some level also not the deepest ones. One was to break a three hour marathon and I didn't but I won one... the other was to run a trail and I didn't but I got to join the spartan world which is mostly on trail... the last was to use my passport which I didn't but somehow it was the year that I traveled the most ever in, mostly to races and only once to Duke.

But these rules, these resolutions are not necessary for many good men. There are good people who seem to do so many good things so orgnaically that it's not second nature, it is nature. There are people who have called my refusal to participate in races that I can't do without Kiana absurd since I've even missed simple 5k's which would be less than 20 minutes. Anyone who thinks that I haven't been doing things around the house when Kiana was home where she was entertaining herself for that long... but it's just a simple rule I've made in my life. Perhaps it's still the memory of that my first marathon was symbolically chosen because it was on Valentine's day but nothing was done together and therefore... it's no surprise that relationship didn't work out. Perhaps, it's not that different from an alcoholic anonymous member who can't take a sip of alcohol because he knows the damage that has inflicted on things far more important than just his body. Most of us can have a drink or two (or win the beer mile) without any doctor being super upset with us. But if alcohol was something which we abused... it's not worth the risk. Exercise is important but it's a means to an ends for me, it's about valuing life, not promoting running. And I'll always run and always love but for me, I run to love, not love to run.

In what I can only assume will always be, by far, the most media filled year of my life, I've kept writing here, just sharing the simplest perspective from my simple mind. A couple of more media pieces have come out. One of them (http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/equilibrioesaude/2013/12/1390932-corredor-com-cancer-no-cerebro-leva-filha-as-provas.shtml) felt somehow appropriate and/or ironic. I used to travel a lot and I cancelled a trip to Brazil's carnival and literally went to Duke on the exact same date for brain cancer surgery... that stung. And I've never gotten to get anywhere near back there but on Kiana's 7th birthday, our story came out there. My Portuguese is not great but google translate makes it seem like a good story and so it's somewhat comforting that in someway or another brain cancer didn't completely stop me from getting to Brazil :). It is apparently Brazil's biggest paper and I've had some cool Brazilian people reach out to which I can only say obrigado.

Another organization that helps with brain tumor awareness has been highlighting people that are kicking some mass (http://www.masskickers.org/wp/iram-leon/). There are some really cool people and I'm in there as well. Both those pieces if you think I'm being self deprecating... it's just being self aware.

In my favorite media pieces, and in the times I speak and on here, I regularly talk about my deficits of memory and language skills and about my character defects both before and after cancer (the biggest one from my pre cancer days was taking relationships as foregone conclusions). But the simple reality is that one day there will come a day where Kiana thinks it's dorky to hang out with me or I'll be gone. Aware of that reality, no race is more important. People have confused this for humility or strength... perhaps it is but in my mind, if there's any strength in it it's simply acknowledging the weaknesses that I wasn't focused enough before a hole was put in my brain.

The line from the episode is fairly self evident to me. Good men don't need rules. Whether you take the basics of items like the 10 commandments, "don't kill, don't steal, don't cheat on your significant other, don't be jealous of things" etc. I can't imagine a world where those things being the norm would lead to anywhere near a healthy or productive society but then again the guy who was bringing down the tablet prohibiting murder had killed a guy. The guy telling people to "love others as they would like to be loved" was betrayed by part of his inner crowd and publicly executed. I think that I, like society, have rules as the checks and balances hoping that the rules let the better halves of ourselves win.

So this week... Kiana and grandma cleaned her room and before she could open her birthday presents, she had to choose to get rid of some items to make room for the others (this was before she knew what was coming). And I've spent a good chunk of the last two weeks as I have each of the last three years, cleaning out more and more of my house. For three years now, I have owned less on December 31st than I did on January 1st because you can't imagine the freedom you find from the things you leave behind. So in what I hope will always be the strangest year of my life.... I'll keep the rules in my life which have gotten me here. Put relationships at the center of life and when there are simple conflicts like skip a race or get a babysitter... then you skip the race.

And those rules will be there not because I'm a good man but because putting them in place has helped me become a better one. And I'm miles away from being anywhere near what I should be but I dare to dream that in 2013 what was good in my life continued to rule.






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