Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Windmills of Your Mind

Like a circle in a spiral Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending nor beginning On an ever-spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find In the windmills of your mind

I have not written here in two months and one day. I don't know that I have a great answer as to why not. I mean maybe I finally found the right balance of sex, drugs and rock n roll to where I don't need the therapeutic blogging as much help. There have been some good days since that marathon that I pledged I wouldn't write what the time was (and I'm keeping that pledge) but I will tell you that something I loved from that race that I said my favorite start line was the next one and so because there was one for the half at 13.1, one for the 10k at 20 and one for the 5k at 23.1, I restarted my watch each time and actually did not know what my total time was until I was at the last finish line. That was a good life lesson. 

Cancer is not nor will it ever be irrelevant to my life. I mean I'm not kidding myself as to that it still scares me and that running and how cancer is related will be tied to my story at all times. I'm honest with that; it is why about a week after that marathon I came back to do the brain power race, a race I've done in all 9 years of its existence, the only person to do that. I took 3rd place on the 10k, hurting and sore that at 39 I'm holding a faster pace than at 31 but it also hurts more. Still, I always cross finish lines with a bit of a dance pep in my step. 

There were some non cancer running, watching my daughter Kiana start cross country. Elaine, Kiana and I are all doing this year's version of the Distance Challenge which will include Kiana's first half marathon. It's a loop that was my first half marathon in 2009, 10 years before Kiana's and that Kiana has done before in her last race in a stroller in 2014, 5 years ago. It's a big loop around Decker lake with some serious rises and falls that make you think what the hill quite often. 

And then there was the Livestrong 5.12 Brunch race two weeks after that got me shouting I got nothing but love for you baby. I won that and then enjoyed good food and drinks afterwards. Still unlike every other picture of me that has occurred for quite a while I wasn't wearing the Livestrong wristband. There are still plenty of shirts and decorations but that Distance Challenge comes with its own wristband and I traded a long sitting one for a temporary one. 

It was a clean moment but not necessarily a clean decision. Livestrong is focused on some re-branding right now and has changed headquarters down to its resizing. I know less of the staff as well and some of the specific ways they helped are not as much a part of the program. My loyalty has always been to people not some idea but I still look to them and feel life and love. Perhaps its just coincidence but within a couple of days of removing it (and I still have it in a very safe and important place, the Grand Canyon box) I happened to be running by the park where the Livestrong video was filmed and every single bit of playground equipment was being torn down. Within a day of that, Livestrong staff emailed me that they were throwing out the banner of the picture of me and Kiana because it wasn't really the rebranding but they felt bad throwing it out and offered it to me. I politely refused as I'm not sure what I would do with a gigantic banner of me... But it was odd for it all happen within a few days of each other. 

This was also the first time ever I missed the Livestrong challenge since I got the cancer diagnosis. This was due to being at a wedding in California. I had signed up and the hardest part of missing it was not missing the bike ride but missing people who come into town for that. Still the last few things I did before heading out of town was hearing someone speak that was in town for a health conference that I met at a Spartan due to both of us being in the media and then going and having lunch with some of the Livestrong leaders that were in town early. I had a moment who was doing her first century at a Livestrong Challenge and maybe felt I would be properly represented... at least until she told me she did it faster than I did mine ;). The smartest thing I ever said was in that video, you have to work on the relationships you want to keep. While I was in that wedding in California, I met with friends from half a lifetime ago. I can live and die with relationships being the primary driver of my life. But that video reflects on my divorce so obviously relationships themselves can die. 

I spoke recently at the University of Texas encouraging students to run for the 7th year in a row. I took out some of my lamer jokes and put in a couple of new ones and some nods and it went well. I've gotten to speak at corporate events, elementary events, middle school ones, high school ones, medical ones, cancer ones, running ones but somehow the college ones are high in the pecking order because college kids aren't easily impressed nor particularly polite if you aren't delivering. The day before I won a Halloween half marathon and I cracked the joke that other people had costumes but I had dressed as the winner. Not really that great of a joke but I had made enough other good ones to where it got some laughs. 

I recently got announced as the ambassador to the Cap10k, in it's 43 year. I'm in full page ads and press releases and lifesize posters. Two years ago it was an Olympic silver medalist, last year it was a gold medalist and this year they went with an international man of mystery, me (the mystery being why they chose me). Last year, despite its long history, it was the first time it fell apart due to rain. I went out there and helped clean up because isn't that what you're supposed to do when people you care about are in the middle of a mess? There's something about what you do when things are rained out and how you handle it afterwards that matters no? The honest truth is I hope this year is awesome and somewhere the race and I can rub some of each other's come back kid attitude. 

I've joked about retirement for years. Elaine mocks that because by that I mean trying to figure out a way to get back to typical employment, not how most people define retirement. I say well in April maybe as I pick my nose on a poster of me and have some fun with it, this public eye thing will cease and it will all come full circle with it being in the first and biggest race I've done in Austin. It would only be a few months after where the first place that invited me to speak (UT) and the first race that invited me for a paid speech (Pocatello) have had me back. I want to believe that it's all come to a full balanced circle, romanticize it a bit. I listen to the song quoted here at the beginning and realize its never ending nor beginning on an ever spinning real. I think I've gotten plenty wrong and plenty right and maybe in the next spin at the right Leon spot I'll improve, the circumstances will line up. It took me almost a decade to hit my initial goal time in the marathon and I've still never gotten good weather for it. A lot of the more important things in life are far more complex than putting one foot in front of each other, or so I try to say in a simple and practical fashion.

But that of course is not how the universe works. I know just by watching Kiana grow up. I've long said parenting kept getting purely more fun from birth but that would come with a break. Jr High the brakes have come. I'm not saying it's not still fun but there are moments where I am remembering some of the actions and attitude I took towards my parents in Jr High and boy is karma real. 

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that I said?
Lovers walk along the shore
And leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging on a hallway
or the fragment of a song,
half-remembered names and faces
but to whom do they belong?

Still I can't help but reflect on the last two months even if I've been less faithful about writing some of it down. I assure you it won't be as long before I write again as the one day that gets faithful acknowledgement is just a few days away, the 5th of November, the day this cancer journey started. This blog won't be ending anytime soon I hope, the memories will keep coming but fading too and the windmills of my mind will take the wind to move and hopefully produce useful energy. I'm thankful I still have a mind, a heart, a soul and thankful they keep finding ways both to wake up and rest and be restless on some days.