Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Nice Guys Finish Last

I've been working on my playlist for the brainpower 5k, the 5th time I'm doing on it's fifth year. I've never quite known how to make sense of the fact that before this all started for me, Austin had never once had any brain cancer research races and that on it's first one the universe was kind enough to both let me win it and be it's lead fundraiser. There's been other honors since then like helping organize, having put together the biggest team and this year a contest in which I'll start at the back of the pack and Believe and Train is going to donate money for everyone I pass. I've never done anything like that in a race but I know brain cancer has made us say goodbye to many people and certain parts of our functions, our self perception, perhaps self value often get left behind. I won't be able to win this race but it's a good focus that sometimes on surgery tables or radiation session or steroid intakes but however far back we start, we can make progress.

I've been working on the playlist for the race this morning and it's actually almost entirely new songs but one that I couldn't resist was, "Nice guys finish last." I've never been one of the nice guys; perhaps there's too much primal instincts from growing up in a rough neighborhood where I never quite lost that edge. People have asked why I don't smile in race pictures (I generally do in post and pre race pictures); a good friend even said at a picture taken not far from the finish line that I looked angry. Let me be honest I don't even notice the photographer, I'm just gunning. So while I'm not one of the nice guys, I try, honestly try as best as I know how to be one of the good ones. So while I'm not quite sure how I'll manage with the weaving around from the back of the pack to manage trying to be one of the good or nice guys, I'll give it an honest attempt. I have a lot of bad qualities but pretentiousness isn't one of them but repetitiveness is as is demonstrated by how much I use that phrase.

Oddly enough someone actually donated to Kiana's fundraising this year. She was originally going to run the 5k but decided this would be her first road 10k. They start 10 minutes ahead of the 5k and I'll start at the back of the pack but this is her first race going alone. It's a double loop so my hope is to be able to do the second loop with her. Still, it took her all of a few moments to decide to do her first road 10k two weeks after doing her first trail one. I got the pictures from that and I don't know whether it's a good quality or bad one she's inherited but she definitely doesn't seem to have noticed the camera either. (Actually I think it's a good one, the kid actually has a horrible put on smile which she'll I suppose work on in due time since we call that a social skill but I like that I know I have to catch the real one for pictures).

There still continue to be some very kind messages being sent regarding the E60 piece, Remember me. I want to point out as with any media piece that you know they're professional editors. I'm nowhere near capable of being as solid as that story paints and have never known what to do with people who prefer the idea of me. I wrote an entire blog about the piece actually, only one I've ever written that's never been posted since it felt inadequate.  Still, I'm grateful for the kind messages that come because of it. There has been as could be expected some random people who have said some odd things on social media that I can't quite wrap my mind around (and my brain has a hole in it!). Perhaps most amusing was someone who found this video when they were looking for that one. If you didn't get me a birthday present last month, that's the outfit I'm looking for.

Still life continues to be kind which people don't understand when they hear me say that I think life is kind with the rough things that have come. If there's any good quip from the last few years about how to deal with some of the mess is that if you're going through hell, why would you stay there? But hell is not where I'm at but I do know where I'm going. There are three places that are tied for where I've most visited since getting brain cancer, Duke (all medical, one included a race), New York City, and Beaumont (all races including the one that I won with Kiana in her stroller). Somehow appropriately enough in two weeks I head back there for the 5th time to this small town that would have a big impact in my life. It's a fundraiser for Livestrong who is who connected me to Duke so somehow the world is kind enough to connect all of that and continue to showing it as #winning (it's more clever if I use a hashtag right?). I've struggled with the travels associated with cancer but they say too much light makes the baby go blind. Maybe it's because I was a baby in life part 2 but almost 5 years into the brain cancer journey, I realized I should quit that whining and be glad I'm going on the ground and in the air and on road and on trails and up mountains and in Spartans... any of which and certainly the combination is much much better than being 6 feet under ground. I'll get there eventually as we all will but enjoy the time above before becoming fodder for insects below.

Still, Kiana put together a thing for back to school night that I loved (almost 100%). Her self perception at age 8 is better than many people at older ages (is that something we lose or gain as we "grow up?). She talked about the fact she's loud, funny, likes art and reading, wants to be a teacher, actor or singer but cares about her pet. She wishes she had a million, million dollars, perhaps a reflection that my finances aren't all she wishes they were and oddly enough said she wonders if she'll have children. I'm not sure that was going through my head at age 8 but I don't think that was it. She's only pulled it off one year out kindergarten through second grade (last year) but it honestly made my day that she wanted to have perfect attendance again. There may be a lot of things you can't do to make life work but one thing you have to do to have any chance is show up.

I know that I've gone back and finished with many people after doing my own race but there really has been only one person I've ever started and finished a race with and that's Kiana. I appreciate people commending that but you're supposed to put your kids ahead of yourself at some level whether you believe in the theory of evolution or the gospel truth. I'm honestly struggling more with this weekend where Kiana will be starting for the first time more with her own non kid's race even though I hope I can help her finish (with that said she decided to start taking her own donations and is already 4th on my team of fundraisers!). I tried to get her to promise me once that we'd run together as long as I can but if there's ever a day that I can't keep up with her that she should just do her own races and that's the day I become strictly a cheerleader (I'd look good in those skirts right?). She immediately said no that we'd still do some races together if she ever got faster than cause we're family; I immediately teared up that day while honestly hoping she'll finish  her own race and then come back and finish with me. I suppose only time will tell.

Even if I'm not a nice guy who will finish last right now an idea I heard of lately is that interesting people are interested in other people. I've wondered how I've managed to put together solid teams for so many things over the last few years and am blown away by the kindness. The reason I have such good friends must be because only ridiculously good people can put up with me. Yet I think perhaps the reason we've made any progress in life are because there are souls in humanity who realize that their interest in other people makes everyone and everything more interesting and that the greater depth they have with it, that maybe the idea that it's more blessed to give than to receive isn't quite that clean of a formula but one where giving and receiving is much like breathing in and breathing out. And those types of people, with those nice types of ideas are the ones I hope to finish with till my last breath.

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