Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Benefit of the Doubt

I think most of us like certainty.... High probability is comforting but there's something about certainty for humans even if it so very little of it exists in the real world . We make days 24 hours when there are exactly zero days in which sunrise to sunrise has been 24 hours. Just like there are zero months that correspond with the lunar cycle or 0 years that match exactly with the solar one... we divided things into clean kilometers and miles and speeds based on that. Us runners run with GPS watches and sometimes find ourselves running in a parking lot up and down till that watch beeps exactly. It's interesting how much heckling I've given and taken for the fact that so many looks of excitement and anticipation are marked by us by pressing a button at the start line. The finish line look of triumph or defeat are awfully similar for many of us, it's the pressing of that same button.

I like certainty too. The balance of utilizing it is certainly clear in concepts like geometry where we use perfect circles and squares to work within the natural elements (where no perfect circles or squares actually exists). But there are laws there like gravity and inertia etc that seem to reflect a universe that holds those rules so well in a vacuum and perfectly inconsistently within the actual universe. 

But I keep trying to give life, my life, my friends lives and opinions the benefit of the doubt. I am nervous about the echo chamber that I see in the universe online and in person where anyone who disagrees with my views or ideas of insert 'religion, political belief, ethnic views, sexuality views, diet, exercise approaches' is clearly wrong/evil/stupid. Because if we don't have the capacity for opening up to ideas there is a low chance of getting anyone to open up to ours and let them dance. Line dancing is entertaining but my favorite and the most intimate is interactive. I am known for being a bit arrogant but I don't have the arrogance to think everyone, heck anyone including my own child would be a better person if they thought exactly like me. I'm not even better for thinking exactly like me. 

That there's wiggle room in life is something I want to teach my daughter. Father's day we went to a lake we planned to swim at but it was closed to swimming due so bacteria so we sat and skipped rocks across it. I had my best rock skipping day and taught Kiana how to do it for the first time in her life. We didn't bemoan that we couldn't swim there, we just went with it and I skipped more rocks that day than the rest of my adult life combined. It even went from finding the best ones to skip to seeing if we could make this one that seemed impossibly big or uneven to skip. We managed more than I would have believed. We've done it a few times since then and I think Kiana and I will skip a few more days together. 

We went to another swimming hole a few days later which had a reasonable big jump. I have issues with heights and with a crowd heckling over and over as old men and small children jumped in I couldn't get up the nerve. Without fail when the heckling however good or mean natured came, I said I promise I'll get it done. I don't know how long it'll take me but I'll jump in (it was a 2 hour reservation). It took me half an hour of standing up there but I jumped. Kiana did it in just a few minutes. We both kept jumping off both the lower and the higher one and did the last one together. I've never hesitated in letting her see me afraid or letting her be. We don't have anywhere near 100%  success but I wonder if the fact we acknowledge doubt is why we're able to beat it. Not sure which one of us draws the courage from the other.

But summer started well with her and I having some adventures. Elaine has joined us for some though not all since she has a real job. But they both did their toughest bike ride ever, one that includes a serious hill. I had done it before them and said that it was okay if it had to be skipped on one of the turns. Kiana did it on all 6 of her 3.5 mile loops the time she went and Elaine did it on all 8 on the time she went. On both occasions I joined them pedal for pedal. For both it was the toughest ride of their life so far but maybe we're all just getting started. 

Maybe is a word you find in my vocabulary a lot. Statistically speaking is in here often and in almost all my public speeches. Doubt and hope are two sides of the same coin. They are bound together and both serve a function. We have negative associations with doubt usually because we associate it with uncertainty or even criminality like beyond a reasonable doubt. Hope is the positive side of the same idea perhaps. That's the trouble with hope; it's hard to resist.  With a disease that the median survival is 7 years, something I'm exactly 4 months away from my honest thought about it are I doubt I'll make 40 but I hope I will. 

I am watching 7 brain tumor survivors right now (8 if you include me) who are all around the same testing results that I am in very different stages. Two are marathon runners who had both surprising growth in their MRI's and are now dealing with the after math of that with new surgeries, chemicals etc. They both give great aura's of positivity in social media and in conversation and at least not there or to me, express much doubt. That positive vibe energy maybe very well what's keeping them going. I've hugged them at the beginning and ends of races before. I hope to again.  There are two others who were full grown adults that the tumor has gotten them bad enough to where they literally had to move back in with their parents at an age past mine (it's arguable whether it's the parent or the child who that's harder on on many levels). One was someone who had done races after relearning to walk but moved at such a pace that they were by far the last finisher except for the nurse and the other cancer survivor who did it next to her. I won the Brainpower 5k that year and everyone wondered why I missed the award ceremony; well now you have an answer. She asked me to come visit her as this was all starting and she was trying to grip her mortality. We walked some together that day even if it was slowly. Now she says we've gotta get a running date together where I'll push her in her wheelchair around the neighborhood. You better believe that run will rank up there with the stroller ones with Kiana. Two it has been stable for so long since it was fully removed that their odds look dramatically better with one even being declared cancer free and no longer having to do MRI's ever again. One is a small child whose the one I have the most sympathy for her and her parents. Cancer is a cruel disease. I am thankful each of us has been part of the other's journey. There's times, in complete frankness, whether I doubt if my sleep would be easier if I hadn't hidden more from this but I don't think so. 

My own doubts created some good decisions along the path as well as some horrible ones. Being careful with time and money when medical appointments were the norm helped get away from that debt sooner, live with more conviction. Being doubtful the resources would ever return made the impact be less and better for Kiana. Being doubtful that I would be around did and at some level still does make me nervous about being too engaged in relationships but I keep trying, I keep trying. Elaine and I are at almost two years since our first date. This year we've been doing more races and runs together. Last week, with this month being the first in 5 or 6 years that I've gone a full month without a race, it was my highest mileage week ever. It was in fact the 1st time I broke 60 miles in week. Not a single one of them was run by myself and I ran more miles with her than I have with anyone in week in my entire life. She's joined my enthusiasm for Spartans, with me having done now both a Super and a Sprint side by side with her. I do the elite heat and then repeat with her. The Beast is the hardest thing I do each year and this year will be her first. I don't have the capacity or time to do it twice in one day so when we do that in October it'll be one lap together. We even did an obstacle workout together for Independence Day. Even independence doesn't have to be done alone. 

We've continued to team up on house improvements. Until recently all the improvements had just been done in the bedroom (insert easy joke here). But now there's been improvements to some of the outdoor lights and furnitures. We've repainted and replaced a few things; not all but a huge percentage of the new bases are gray based and that definitely let to the easy joke of when are we going to get to 50 shades of gray in the house. In fact the most recent one was a new front door which like almost every improvement we've made, they let a lot more light in. I've actually started training with her for this month while Kiana's visiting her mother which led someone to say that it was to show people who usually run with her who her boyfriend is but that's incorrect. Relationships are based on trust; if you don't trust someone you shouldn't be in a relationship. It just turns out I enjoy being around her. 

I'm not going to give up hope but I'm also not going to give up doubt. I am going use them both to fuel decisions like you do in poker or anything involving probability. Hesitation can be good so can full propulsion and you need them both at specific moments. I'm going to keep giving people and situations the benefit of the doubt and perhaps continue to doubt cancer's ability to keep being too big of a factor on any given day. Maybe that's exactly how hope and doubt can work together.  I think doubt is hope's shadow and it's what happens when you have good light. I'll take that as the benefit of the doubt. 

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