Thursday, November 20, 2014

Different Thank You Think

Not long ago, I blogged about an interaction with a friend I continue to be impressed with, Scott who is handling difficulties of cancer and life with a positive grace (  As I called him one of my heroes,  he said we could be each other's heroes as long as we didn't have to wear capes. I said I'd wear a cape if I wanted to damn it. I definitely won that arguement as I sent him a holiday card, he was kind enough to send a Livestrong cape for Kiana and I.

It made for an amusing conversation when I shared the picture on facebook with a lady who I can best describe as a Wonder Woman with all of her abilities to save and capture parts of life and smiles. But the conversation about who our favorite superhero was led to me sharing and perhaps showing that my mentality has always been somewhat grounded while still in flight, my fictional favorite hero is Batman. I don't know why that was true when I was a kid but I think the reason that it has remained Batman is that he's the only one whose "theoretically possible." There was no special element we've never discovered, no extra terrestrial birth, just a damaged guy with the means, motivation and discipline to do something with what he'd been given to defend Gotham (it's a little tough to accept that probably the worst rendition of Batman on the big screen was played by George Clooney). While most of us don't have those type of resources, I believe we can all do things proportionately with focus.

This is to me somehow both a difficulty and a beauty of humanity; we like ideals and we should pursue them. Christmas isn't far around and so we'll talk about a Guy who had a virgin birth and a perfect life and death and thus was able to save us. Maybe that's what it takes to redeem our faults and sins but Christianity hasn't always done it done it as well. Like in physics, we use perfect squares and spheres in order to be able to design things, and it works so well we've gotten to the not perfect sphere moon and landed on mars. But despite our best telescopes, we've never found anything remotely close to the "ideal" we designed. I tutor math where as we worked on Pythagorean theorem and I couldn't help but think there are ZERO perfect right triangles in the entire known universe. We design, conceptualize, imagine the perfect in order to understand the world we live in, a little messier, a little less predictable (a lot?). Now before all my religious friends get offended, let me also offend my non believer friends and say I don't have enough faith to be an atheist. I'd never come across an iphone and go yep given enough time that got there by itself much less the far more complex things in the universe. And I think it takes a huge leap of my imagination to say there was nothing and then there was this big ban explosion and it got to be everything. Both of those are gigantic leaps of belief to me but all life I know from Kiana to the tree in my front yard, need some external help to get here.

So as I think about the faith it takes to be open to outside help, my friend Josh had a good time heckling me about the fact I caught the garter at his wedding, saying I was next in line; I tried to dismiss him by saying it was just my competitive spirit kicking in. Plus I had reminded him that while I had great taste in women, great woman would show something wrong in their taste for a guy like me. But somehow, coincidentally, I had actually recently  had a dream where I was getting married (psychoanalysis begins here). In that dream, I was frustrated cause I coudn't find my bowtie and I went and asked the bridesmaids (zero of which I knew) and it occurred to me as I was waking from that dream that in it, I had no clue who I was marrying... If that dream was not disturbing enough, a song from Caedmon's Call came on not long after that (

Because I don't know what I want
But at least I know that much
Now I'm afraid love came right up
And it slapped me in the face, but I did not know, no

Because love is different than you'd think
It's never in a song or on a TV screen
And love is harder than a word
Said at the right time and everything's alright
I said love is different than you'd think

So I imagine if I ever do find the "true" type of love, if I ever quite relax enough, it will be different than I think. But I do think that I have found love in many relationships like friends, in family made in so many ways because we accept that it's different than we had thought. That a bond can be made where if somebody's cheesy and someone's lactose intolerant, we can find dairy free chocolate cake. Or that recipe that doesn't offend your choices of how to make waffles and either way you can cover them with maple syrup. It can be made in bicycles, on tracks in mud, over a good joke. There's no script in each of our lives where we can't choose to get some say in both the progress and the ending.

Over and over, how I've gotten through the day and the people I've described in here that are my heroes are impressive and humans. I've talked about MLK who we've made an impressive statue of in DC who was lets just admit far less than adequate in how he handled much of his personal life ( I've had to answer to more than a few people why still support Livestrong despite of Lance Armstrong's performance drugs ( and  I've talked over and over about Van Gogh and why he's one of my heroes caused with a messed up mind and emotions he tried to find a way for it to shout in color. He didn't see the black of the night, he saw that the stars spread more colors and beauty in any given moment than the darkness could conjure or cover up. He found a way to channel madness, sadness, anger into starry nights and sunflowers.

Recently I was a little surprised at how much coverage this half marathon tenth place article picked up I've never quite understood how this story is still getting coverage. It was shared in Puerto Rico which was cool since Kiana's got Puerto Rican heritage. I appreciate the conversations I get to have about races because I get to hear about why someone got motivated to their first Spartan, their first half marathon,  how the person who called their daughter for the first time in 14 years... Those are neat moments but perhaps just if not more meaningful ones are the ones where someone said, I don't pay my bills until after I get my kid to bed anymore, where it's not just one dynamic moment but a shift in frame of lifestyle. While I was one of the stories in the book Supersurvivors when I went to the reading of it and the authors read some great things but it was actually something they said during the Q&A time that was my favorite moment of the session. They said that often people talk about getting inspired when they hear stories but when asked what they get inspired to do, most of them end up describing just a change of feelings or thoughts. That's of course useful and I'd pay money for someone to help me line up my feelings and thoughts better but the stories that the authors used, the ones we like to hear, the ones we'd like to live is what we do with it. There's been amusing moments when I saw through an interview where the person interviewing before me says "I don't let my kids watch TV" (that didn't make the cut). But ultimately what does make it is what they are doing, the narration explains the why, but without the what, the why is so much less relevant. 

I'm not saying, nor have I ever, that we should excuse our humanity. This is "raw and uncensored" because isn't it healthy to acknowledge it? I say, "I don't know" when Kiana asks a question I can't google, I mean when she asks a question I don't know the answer to. I wonder and worry about what she'll look back on of a dad that has saved newspaper articles about us but who at the annual daddy daughter thing she described my job as running and says my clothes of choices are bowties and running shoes. But I also try to tell her to find productive things to do when she's angry or sad rather than pretend those emotions don't exist. There's times where you just have to find the right person to hug for many reasons like letting you find comfort while hiding your face. Perhaps this is why heroes wear masks so often because it's pretty scary to try to deal with comforting emotions when yours haunt you as well.

In psychology, we have shown over and over that when actions and thoughts don't line up, if we can't find a way to live with the dichotomy, we too often change our thoughts to justify our actions rather than up our actions to live to our ideals. No one bats 100% at anything in the world but with love, with running, with raising a kid, with all that I care about, the things in life that matter I hope that when I think I can do more that I find a way to try to keep doing it. And when I fail that I try again. Not in that madness where you slip into a cycle but where you tweak it, twist it, step it up. If I am different than I think, it's because I want to think that I'm overreaching, maybe aiming for the stars and falling on the barn roof, not the worst failure in the world. If I am different than I think, I really hope that if ideals keep getting higher it's because my actions are trying to catch up. And even if we can't always keep the exact same pace, I hope I keep thinking different.

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