Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Growth and transitions 1 and 2

Spring has arrived and it has started warming up. I don't know that Texas has traditional transitional seasons like some places do during spring and fall. But as I was mowing my lawn and watering my trees the other day, I noticed the growth in the tree that I planted shortly after the second time was visible on the stem itself. And there was something very cool about being reminded that growth can be a very very positive thing. (So tree growth, good. Growth in cancer bad. Kiana arguing with me because of wanting to still wear a dress that's gotten too short because of her growing... somewhere in the middle).

Still, apparently here in Austin, this is the end of marathon season and the beginning of triathlon season... so I have been training for my first triathlon... the rookie triathlon now just a few days away. Though I've done 9 marathons, six spartans, and 3 century rides, why have I never done a triathlon? Because I hadn't swam laps or strokes continuously in 14 years... and I've never swam in open water other than recreationally (I've done it twice, yesterday and the day before and it turns out water and I are better in a closed relationship).

But to the river and to the lake where I went to practice, I drove my car which carried my bike (it got a good nudge from a friend of "you know now that you're allowed to drive, you don't have to bring the bike right?"). But it was because I wanted to have some concept of how to exchange between the two. I don't know much about triathlons (thus why I'm doing the rookie) but it turns out that while your total time is what matters they do give you splits. In running, we have positive and negative splits (were you speeding up or slowing down the further you got along the race). In triathlons I was recently told you get 5 different times. The first is how long it takes you to do the swim, the 3rd is how long the ride takes you and the 5th is how long the run takes you. However 2nd and 4th stages, time splits are transition times... how long it takes you to get done with one event (take off goggles, put on shoes, sunglasses, helmet, bike for transition one/ take off sunglasses, helmet, get off the bike, put on running shoes, put on a running bib for transition 2. I can't promise you how my first triathlon is going to go... If it's anything like my first marathon or my first spartan, it will kick my ass.

However, on advice of Julian who has done ironmans and other triathlon distances, he told me to practice transitioning. So yesterday for about half an hour, I practiced running to the bucket Kiana had made for my transition and working on it all. It's harder than it seems... A non triathlon friend kind of rolled his eyes and said it's a few seconds difference at most. I think both are correct in that it can be a small and little deal. I suppose where it could be the biggest deal is that if you do something wrong during transition, it can disqualify you all together (there are rules about when your helmet has to be strapped in etc) or you may have to stop in the middle of when you're supposed to be racing to transition some more instead of giving it all you've got.

The counselor I've sat with for going on three years now recently had a conversation with me about how it's time to start talking about transitioning out of counseling... I don't think that either of us believe it's because I've got it all together (I dont!) but it's because the things he helped me with where ones were well I didn't practice transitioning. Perhaps, it was worse than that... perhaps if this triathlon is any analogy I was trying to bring the bike in the lake or run during the bike portion... not getting some things anywhere right and slowing myself way the hell down. But it's somehow both incredibly comforting and scary that he's open to that possibility.

But he (and I?) believe that even if it was less than clean... most of the time we were moving forward and thus the definition of progress. I went from employed but not running guy going through post cancer divorce to unemployed passionate single dad with pr's and wins in pretty much every distance... is that progress? Either way, we've been meeting less frequently and somehow, if the last blog is any indication, it went from a story I told in tears from stress and worry to friends and a counselor to one I share with other people about holding hands and going on.

So we'll call that transition 1 and my counselor and I think/hope it's complete. Transition 2 now is being back in my car... the medical appointments at least for now being the exception most months rather than the rules and perhaps the one that generates the most conversation... finally being open to having a girlfriend. The problem with having said that George Clooney's your idol in regards to relationship is that he threw me a curveball this week. He got engaged apparently after dating a girl for six months (you know you've made too many George Clooney jokes when he gets engaged multiple people feel the need to tell you). He took a couple of decades to do it but I don't have that kind of time. So to answer a question/joke/comment, I've been asked a couple of times... sure, if I find the right person, I'm happy to dive in after six months with someone and dream of spending the rest of our lives together in the old fashioned way, one foot in front of the other with someone  you love...

Were any of the Geore Clooney girls in that category? Well... for a guy who shares too much of his life...let's just say there was a definite pattern to girls who will hang out with a guy who somehow tries to balance being a hopeless romantic and having a heart afraid of damage and commitment. They were all brilliant beautiful young urban professionals who I was the rebound guy from a bad last ending to a relationship. I think once they found their feet or once my next medical appointment was done and I remembered that I didn't want to impose this on anyone, one or both of us moved on. But while it's not 100%, I am friends with most of them and am happy when they find their next step (including ones that have already moved on to marriage and one with a child). (And here a brilliant person will point out that I didn't answer the question the paragraph started with).

Perhaps because enough time has passed, perhaps because in this second transition of life being more normal, perhaps because the right George Clooney girl left an impression deeper than my scars did, I really am grateful that my heart has relaxed enough to be open... Will that work out? Who knows but nothing ever does unless you're open to it and as I've said before, you do that basic principle towards relationships that you have to do with muscles and fitness, work on the ones you want to keep.

A friend who is recently on some similar psychotropic meds asked recently if that's what it's like to be me, swimming in your own head from drug side effects that mess with your sleep, how you feel etc. They are one of the people who has realized that I'm nauseous more often than I let on since if there's nothing I can do about it... what's the point of complaining all the time? They understood for the first time that while I love life, I will also be at some level relieved when there comes a point for it to end. But they also realized that waiting for relief is probably not nearly as good as going and seeking it and they went and got a workout in.

Still... we'll see how the triathlon goes, transitions and all. We'll see how life goes, transitions and all. But the medication we all need is love. That comes in many forms but it's questionable whether I've been shying away or running away from a certain type... but it's time to stop that in this second transition in spring. Or to quote Bette Midler:

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows

Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose.