I find myself doing more pondering than I used to do, even a few short months ago… not sure if its solely the lag & slowly-but-surely attempt to re-engage the motor that always happens for me coming back from a long trip as I work through the physical, mental, & emotional costs of said trip, no matter how enjoyable or productive it may have been.
Work is different & the rhythms I’d grown used to (fallen into) over the last few years have been shaken up with a (virtual) head-shaking, sinus-clearing whiff of smelling salts brought on by change. Instead of just jumping back into the known & the familiar, I find myself stopping & observing, thinking on & through, & leaning more & more on my foundations for encouragement & possibly, for some directions as I go forward into December & toward the brink of 2024.
Jerry Cook used to say, “If you don’t know what you’re DOING, limit your activities. And if you don’t know what to SAY, limit your words.” And so in these days I’m finding myself choosing (rather than begrudgingly complaining my way to & through) to embrace those limits of NOT knowing, surely, confidently, what to do. To say.
It’s not apathy. Nor inertia. It has the feel of a ‘gathering of self’ kinda like you’d do before you’d JUMP or SPRING towards something. (I’m picturing Mario C Champagne, a childhood cat much loved by all, getting ready to pounce. And pounce he did. But he could also linger. But I digress.) i occasionally feel pressure (probably from firstborn, formerly Type A me) to DO something, to JUMP in & lead loud & fast & confidently towards… something. But what I have is nothing concrete, merely the subtle encouragements, a sense of being drawn towards/by the things/person I know & trust… to keep taking the steps in front of me that need to be taken. To lean on myBean & also on my Savior, trusting that I need both to encourage & remind me of things spoken to me long ago, things that are in process of being worked through now.
Sitting at my desk, looking out the window. Melancholy? Peace?
And I’m hit with this: I am a seed, (with the lyrics too.) Haven’t thought of that song in a minute (or a decade.) And yet… I am a seed. SOMETHING is definitely happening, but there’s not much ACTIVITY happening. Like a seed. In the ground. Waiting for the shaking off of the old form, the kernel that’s held me for so long, waiting for roots to sprout DOWN & for life to spring UP. Knowing I can’t make it happen by wanting, as the process isn’t mine to force. I’m on the timeline of Another; the Gardener who planted me knows His times & His seasons. And He knows not only WHEN the shaking/breaking will begin (emerge?) but also WHAT will come forward. And, like the fruit/plant/green that doesn’t even remotely resemble the seed it came from, that which is coming (probably) won’t look like the seed did… but it will be GOOD. And then the activities, the words, will be more evident.
This is the way. Walk in it. These are the words. Speak them.
We met Alex & Linda in the courtyard of the building where our flats are located, & made our way through the maze to one of the adjoining streets to meet our Uber. They typically employ 1 of 4 modes of transportation: walking, riding a bike, hiring an Uber/taxia, or (rarely) taking the public transportation system (combo of buses/S & U-bahn trains.) The driver dropped us off & it was just a short walk to Parma Pizza.To say it was a hole in the wall makes it seem bigger than it was… there were 3 or 4 tables crammed into 2 rooms, & the ‘kitchen’ was literally 2 steps from our table. Alex stepped into the kitchen twice & was reprimanded each time for violating the ‘chef’s’ space, but it’s not like he could access his seat without stepping into the kitchen. Inside of the rooms looked like a half-finished construction site where the workers had gone home for the weekend, leaving a bunch of stuff half-done, with tools & supplies strewn around the room. There were two guys in the kitchen area; one, the owner/chef, the other, a guy who kept sampling the box of wine on the edge of the super tiny refrigerator. He reminded me of someone who was probably a buddy of the owner who comes to hang out at his buddy’s place in the hopes he’ll be able to sponge some free food & drink if he hangs out long enough. The chef guy looked as though he was an Italian photographer just returned from a taxing & oh-so-draining photoshoot somewhere & by the way he acted, it sure didn’t seem like he was happy to have customers. I dubbed him “Artist Guy” & the other guy was “the Leech.”
He finally got around to bringing us our menus & made a big show about the artistry of his pizzas… he took the time to explain several of the pizza options to us, in German & English, even though we already knew what we wanted to order. Once we ordered, he engaged in conversation with the Leech for about 15 minutes, seemingly forgetting we were there. Eventually our drink orders came, with our bottled water & the finest boxed red wine the kitchen had to offer placed hurriedly on the table so Artist guy could get back to his conversation.
He remembered we were there to EAT, so he frantically began to assemble the ingredients for the pizzas we’d ordered on his prep counter & then painstakingly made the pizzas, popping them 1 by 1 into the pizza oven on the far side of the kitchen. Good thing they only had to bake for about 90 seconds. Artist guy deposited the pizzas in front of us & stepped back into the kitchen.
About this time, a younger guy arrived, complete with a dark mullet of curls on his head (theBean said they were the size of the classic pink 1 1/2″ sponge hair roller that hadn’t been brushed out after removing the curlers); he spoke only broken English & his native Italian, & he seemed to be there to do all the jobs Artist guy didn’t want to do.
Pizza was ok – I got a Salamewurst & Tomato & Mozzarella & theBean had a ham pizza (ham put on after the pizza cooked, much to her chagrin & displeasure.) We ate our fill & laughed a lot around the tiny table in the bizarre pizza place/construction zone while the Leech drank more wine & the Mullet guy went through the motions of cleaning & puttering around looking for something.
We had a blast… time with Alex & Linda is always the BEST time. Good conversations on a variety of topics: Jesus, church life, health, exercise, conspiracy theories, Joe Rogan, specialty meal replacement shakes, work (Alex works in a start-up that does high end health supplements & Linda is a supervisor in the educational system, focusing much of her life on helping foreigners & others trying to make the best of school in Germany.)
Alex had us rolling with his active & quick sense of humor & Linda’s joy & love of life are evident in every conversation we had with her. Truly dear & much loved friends.
After our meal, since it wasn’t raining (YES) we decided to stretch our legs & walk home through the dark back streets of Berlin’s Kreuzberg & Neukölln neighborhoods; it only took about 30 minutes & it was really refreshing, esp. considering how much we had sat around with little activity the first week of our trip. Went up to their flat for more talks & a late night glass of wine… eventually made our way across the courtyard to our flat & were in our room a minute later. It was a good day.
Woke up late & headed to the Cafe Bread for coffee & a breakfast pastry… guy from yesterday wasn’t working (bummer) & but the new girl hooked us up & quickly as we settled into our spot to read, enjoy our coffee & people watch. Alex worked until 1 p.m. & Linda until 5, so theBean & I went for a walk through the neighborhood & picked up some supplies from the local grocery store. When Alex called us, we met him outside at an Uber & made our way downtown for some “on the go” site-seeing & a quick stop for a ‘snack’ at Goldie’s Smashburger&.I’ve had smashburgers in the US & they were ok… nothing compared to a good 3×3 animal style, protein style, w/extra grilled onions & cheese, no tomato, no spread, ketchup & mustard please @ In-N-Out burger, but ok.
This was > ok. This was incredible. Keep in mind, we stopped here for a snack… & also because we hadn’t had a burger our whole time in Germany. So of course, we ended up getting doubles, which were the size of my two fists together. We came at the perfect time, so no line. By the time we were done eating, the line had wandered down the block. We crushed our burgers (so good) & took turns sampling the fries until we couldn’t eat any more. This was, by far, the food highlight of our trip.
After eating waaaay too much for a snack, we wanted to do some walking, so we made our way through the streets til we finally got to the old Templehof Airport (check out the link for Templehof above), the site of the Berlin airdropsthat saved Berlin in 1948 & 1949 (go USA). This massive former airport is now a recreation area, where miles of former taxi & runways have been turned into places for exercise, (bikes, roller blades, scooters, & foot power), with large grassy areas here & there for picnics, kid-friendly recreation, & a couple designated dog parks. Very cool, & lots of places to stop & read about the history of the place. Spent about 90 minutes walking & ended up on the far side of the airport, where we (thank the Lord) found bathrooms that were open & available for usage, without any fee. (NOTE: most of the time to use a toilet in a store/restaurant in Germany/Europe, it will cost you at least 1 Euro. Put that on your list of Even More Things to be thankful for at home.)
Caught an Uber home, with just enough time to rest, change clothes, & meet Linda to catch another Uber to our dinner place, Crazy Kim’s Korean. We got seated by Kim herself at a table in the entry way, & placed our orders. This restaurant was one they hadn’t been to before, but our coming to visit gave them an opportunity. Food was decent & there were 15 appetizer bites brought to our table (no choice in the matter) & it was fun to try different things. For our main dishes, I got bulgogi & theBean got Korean short-ribs.
But the highlight of the night, for me, was the 2 women who came in shortly after us. One of them HAD to be the owner’s daughter & the other seemed to be a beloved best friend, because Kim doted on the super fancy & chic ladies, dressed in what were probably pretty fashionable (definition: super weird clothes that real people don’t wear) all the while snapping photos of themselves, each other, & the little pocket sized dog the daughter brought in in her purse. If you’ve ever seen wanna-be IG ‘influencers’in action, you have an idea of our entertainment for the duration of dinner. They helped themselves to all sorts of things behind the bar, often leaving their table to walk around the building, often retreating into the “private” & “Staff only”, only to emerge later & hit the bar again. So. Funny.
Finished dinner & made our way to our Uber outside. The drive home only took 5 minutes, so we had to be close, but it was raining & we’d already walked about 8 miles earlier in the day. As it was our last night, we made our way up to Alex & Linda’s flat again, & sat around their table trying to pack as many conversations as possible into the time we had left. So precious.
We sadly made our way back to our flat to sleep the short night’s sleep that comes before the departure flight home. We’d made plans to come to their flat in the morning for a cup of coffee & hugs goodbye, so we knew we’d get to see them at least one more time before we left.
A big chunk of life happens “on the way.” Our on the way time could be when we’re driving to/from work. Walking our neighborhood or heading to our next appointment. Waiting in line while getting a coffee. I believe much of our on the way time flies under our radar because our focus/our thoughts are on something else. Stuff like:
What’s next. Where we’re headed. What we’ll do when we’re done with work. Our destination. What has to be done at the destination. Our ‘to-do’ lists. Afternoon snacks.
I find that my on the way time is often “multi-tasking” time where I pop in my earbuds to listen to the audio book I want to read, or the podcast I’ve been meaning to catch up on, or zoning out to a favorite playlist. It can be a great way to get stuff done, but with these on the way time fillers, I don’t often take time to sit in silence & think or observe closely what’s going on around me.
You get it.
I was thinking on that this afternoon while I was sitting in the sauna… not much to do in the sauna except for sweat & drink my LMNT-filled Nalgene bottle while waiting for the timer to wind down to zero. One of the things that came up for me was something I read in Acts 3 .
Peter & John were on the way to their church for the 3 p.m. prayers & ended up having a conversation with a guy who had been lame from birth, that turned into a Holy Spirit inspired healing & life transformation, that turned into a “What’s going on here?” moment that caused a couple of thousand people to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.
Really cool stuff. And it made me think, & it made me wonder about my own usage of my on the way time.
Ultimately, the nudge I’m following here is to write out my desire to be more alert, aware, intentional, & present while I’m on the way. To take stock of where I am; to purposely build a little time into my schedule for on-purpose Holy Spirit interruptions to my day; to not immediately pop the ear buds in as soon as I sit in the drivers seat… or head into some other version of being on the way.
Several times over the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve had the same conversation. It starts with someone bringing up something about God. Church. Religion. And each time, the person has said something to the effect of:
“I would NEVER, EVER even think of going to church… if I did, as soon as I walked through the doors I’d probably:
The first couple of times I heard it, I was in Germany; once in downtown Frankfurt, once at the youth hostel where we were having the pastors’ conference. I attributed it to the general state of unchurched-ness of The Fatherland. Silly me.
And then in the last 10 days, I’ve had similar conversations here at home, at Starbucks, the new & improved Great Basin Brewery, & even in the parking lot at church. All people bemoaning the probable (& most certainly horrible) outcome of their crossing the threshold of the church building.
In a couple of the situations, I had the opportunity to pursue some clarification – here’s a ‘sum-up’ of what the people I talked to thought…
Most expect church to be a place of self-righteous nitpicking, & an endless barrage never-measure-up condemnation & accusations.
A common thought was seeing self as Excluded. Beyond help or rescue.
Not seeing how they in their uniqueness could or would fit in a ‘church world’ that is perceived as mostly irrelevant to ‘real’ life.
I don’t know whose quote it is, or how bad I’m mangling it, but it goes something like this:
You may be the only church a person goes to, & may be the only Bible someone reads.
For me, it speaks to the need to live in a way that accurately & faithfully reflects Christ’s love, acceptance, & forgiveness – & a love that meets people right where they are. And it reminds me a bit of a post my friend Tim wrote not long ago about getting the church to people.
TheWeez is on her middle school basketball team; I love going to her games. The last several, her playing time has been next to nil, & she’s discouraged. More than that, she’s frustrated with what her coach says to her (& the 2 other girls in similar spots:)
“I’m really sorry I didn’t play you; but we needed our good players in the game so we could win big, ’cause I really don’t like the Coach from (insert school name here). Next time I’ll try to get you in the game more”
My theWeez is a smart girl – & after this happened the 2nd time (its been 4 games & counting by now,) she vented to me, saying, “Daddy! Does he think I’m DUMB? That I don’t know that when he’s ‘apologizing’ for not playing me he’s really saying I’m not a good PLAYER.”
I’d love to be able to soften the blow to my precious theWeez, to somehow make this situation better… but I can’t. She’s getting a chance to experience, up close & personal, that just because someone is an adult in their 30s, there is no guarantee that they’ve ever really grown up.
I’m sorry my girl.
Oh, & Coach N, theWeez is on to you. And she is not amused.
December, where are you GOING in such a hurry? Stop, sit a spell, & hang out a while.
I’m reading, slowly, through a great book right now by Dallas Willard called, The Spirit of the Disciplines . I know for some that the word ‘discipline’ has negative connotations; I love how Willard works through & around the twistings & perversions of the good word ‘discipline,’ which comes from the root word disciple. In it, he discusses the actions, behaviors, attitudes, & practices that go towards spiritual formation, which to me is something like the nuts & bolts of what it takes to grow up in Christ. I’m already thinking how I can take what I’m learning & apply it, both personally (in my life,) & corporately (within our church family.)
iDoey is in the final week of preparation for his Christmas holiday extravaganza – a song & dance-fest put on by his show-choir-type group called Intermezzo. I’m amazed at the preparation this group of 40 students puts in, & am thankful for the dedicated coordinator & the staff that makes this so much fun for my boy. Thanks Mr. Lorentzen!
NOTE & DISCLAIMER: I’m not sailing. Haven’t sailed. Don’t have any plans to sail. Not against it. Just wanted to share a What About Bob?! moment I had this weekend.
Last Saturday, I finished my 40th birthday celebration. I do realize that the date was February 13th, & that it was almost a full 5 months since my ‘real’ September 19th birthday… but a couple of scheduling conflicts kept the final celebration from taking place; most notably, Petey’s 6-week National Guard deployment to an unnamed location in the Middle-East.
See, as a part of the inevitable ‘taking stock of life’ that my birthday always brings me, I decided that there were a couple of things that I would like to change – habits, patterns, ways of living. (When I was getting ready to turn 25, I read a statistic that said something to the effect that a person develops most of the habits & skills they will have by the time they hit 25. So, I decided that I needed to learn to play guitar. And I did.)
One of the things I decided to change this year involved a decision I’d made about a particular food that I had chosen not to partake of since a rather negative experience from 22 years ago. Sushi. I had it once, & I didn’t like it one bit.
I decided I’d try it again.
I’ve never been a fish or seafood guy. Don’t exactly know why, other than the smell of fish & fishy-ness sets me off. A fish market is the worst. (Actually, any really strong smell has the potential to do that. Fish. Chemical-ly & flowery perfumes. Floral ‘plug-ins’ that are supposed to make the air smell better. Most air-fresheners. Except for the new Febreze that is like the ‘clothes fresh out of the dryer smell…’ But I digress.)
Growing up, my family ate fish. Trout. Shrimp. Crab. Salmon. Halibut. You get the picture. I didn’t. I can remember trying a few of them, & feeling the repulsion, revulsion, the nose-wrinkling displeasure of EWWW!
I’ve heard from plenty of people that I just needed to try “fill-in-the-blank” seafood, prepared in the “fill-in-the-blank” way, & that I would be a convert. I tried a few. Always ended with EWWW!
My friends Petey & Debi kept encouraging me to try sushi again. Not just any sushi, but sushi prepared by Iron Chef Heif: Chris Heifner. My friend Chris is an artist in the truest sense of the word – amazing musician. Worship leader. Painter. Writer. And sushi chef.
And so, the combination of their gentle encouragement, Iron Chef Heif’s skill, & a willingness/desire to change created the perfect storm: a 40th birthday sushi celebration where I would once again give sushi a chance.
It happened Saturday, around our counter, in the company of a few friends, good music (theBean’s 40’s swing/big-band faves,) some Sapporo (as a shout-out to the real sushi-masters,) & a healthy appetite.
I don’t really know what I ate, other than I ate at least one part (portion? slicing? proper terminology would be helpful,) from every roll that Iron Chef Heif made.
-I don’t like fish eggs. “Caviar.” Big or small. Black, brown, or pink. But I ate it. Salty. Like tasting a fishy part of the ocean.
-Spicy is better. Jalapenos, wasabe, & the hot red sauce (don’t recall what it was,) were very much enjoyed & appreciated.
-Soy sauce. The more the better.
-Enough is enough. The pace of the eating, balanced by the time necessary for the preparation allowed me to know I was feeling full before I’d reached the proverbial “Super-Bowl” or Thanksgiving full-ness. Which probably made the whole experience more enjoyable, in that I didn’t have the “I can’t believe I ate so much” regrets. Other than the little fish-egg leftovers I was picking out of my teeth for at least 3 hours after.
I’ve been asked if I liked the sushi. It was good. Different. Don’t really have anything currently in my world to compare it to. Not a negative experience. Just don’t know.
But I’ll let you know if I end up craving it.
So… Thank you Chris, for your hard work & artistic preparation. And Pete-Debi, for your encouragement. And friends for celebrating with me.
I’ve been ruminating on a series of conversations that I had with my buddy, Chuck, while I was at CSR this last August.
The conversations were brought on by the fact that my 40th birthday was coming soon – & how much I was looking forward to that event & the stage of life that would come with it. (And, by the way, I’m 40 days into my 40th year, & so far, I’m loving the fact that I’m a man! I’m 40!)
A lot of our talks centered on the infatuation our society seems to have with YOUTH & being YOUNG… & the seeming inability to accept the fact that people age… & aging is seen as a bad thing, something to be ashamed of, avoided, &/or denied.
Part of what really drove it home for me was that a lot of my ‘thinking time’ happened on & near the Virginia Tech University campus – there were literally thousands of 18-25 year olds all over the place just arriving in Blacksburg for the start of the fall semester… In Walmart. Starbucks. Borders. The campus bookstore. Swarms of people. Checking each other out, visually measuring self against others, masking anxiety with volume… The pretty young things got the most attention & savored it.
In the midst of it, I felt strangely secure. Comfortable in my own skin. I pondered Chuck’s words, & thought about what he’d said about the privileges & things gained as one ages…
…experience & wisdom to be shared. Perspective at having seen seasons of life, fad, & fashion come & go & come back again. The weight the words carry of one who has not only lived, but has lived well, without striving, through the tides, peaks, & valleys that life brings. The joy of watching one’s children grow. Peace at being able to simply enjoy the moment.
The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29 New Living Translation
Being 40 is great. I’m lovin’ it.
Things I’m thinking about:
Associating ‘young’ & ‘youth’ with childish, irresponsible, immoral behavior
Peter Pan syndrome…
valuing people by their outward appearance…
living selfishly, without regard for others
attempting to avoid the responsibility that comes with the making of choices – & the consequences (outcomes?) of those choices
the inevitability of aging… something that no amount of cosmetic surgery, hair dye, or botox can avoid.
I found a new gym. Or should I say, it found me. Its only .9 miles from my home, & my whole family can gymnasium (I totally verbed a noun) for less than $30/month. Haven’t left my old gym officially, but I’m not going anymore, because my new gym has NEW equipment. Functional treadmills. Nice barbells. And kettlebells. They had me at kettlebells.
Worked out today. Happened to put my car/house/every-important-thing-that-requires-a-key-in-life-key chain in a locker. Forgot my own lock, but that’s ok, right? Came back to pick up my keys to find… someone had put a lock on the locker. Sigh.
I went around to every male in the gym (thank you Jesus that there is a Men’s locker room, because it totally limited my search) asking, “So, did you happen to put a lock on locker #37? Cause my keys are in there, man.” Everyone said, “No.” It was awkward, especially with the BIG men, the guys that have a Routine, guys listening to their iPods, guys like Sal who seem like they’d rather break me into several pieces as soon as look at me…
So I called mytheBean. She brought me keys to my car so I could take care of some of the errands I needed to run. I rationalized, “I will come back in 2 hours & the lock will be off #37 & my silliness at not putting my own lock on will be but a distant memory…”
I had planned on driving the Ex down to the gym to pick up my keys. Turns out, everyone left me at home WITHOUT keys to the Ex. So…
TheWeez & I walked the .9 miles down to the gym & I expected that my keys would be at the front desk by this time. Not so. The lock was still on #37. I was able to convince the manager that the best course of action was to CUT the lock on #37, & let me get my keys. Then, I would buy a new lock at the Home Depot & bring it back. A small price to pay for my… forgetfulness.
Got my keys. Ran the .9 miles uphill home, while theWeez waited at theBean’s work. Got the Ex. Drove to pick up theWeez. Went to the Home Depot. Tried to find a lock that resembled the 1 that was cut for me. No dice. Looked for 1 that I would want, & found 1 for only $6.34 (tax included.)
Went back to the gym to drop off the lock. Girl at the front desk was amazed at the quality of the lock I chose. Go figure.
Turns out the guy that had put the lock on #37 had been in the gym the whole time, (4 hours bro?) & had said, “NO!” when asked if he had put a lock on #37, but had obviously been simply trying to avoid the responsibility of locking a space that had held my keys… go figure.
Drove home with theWeez. Weary. 3 hours & counting of my life, poured out in the pursuit of right. Gonna watch a moving picture with my girl – Shanghai Noon? That’ll work…
Maybe its a coping mechanism, but when I am noticed that certain days I crave coffee in the late afternoon. Its not the need for caffeine, because the decaf will do… its the smell of the brewing process, the taste of the 1st sip, the reassuring heat emanating from the ceramic cup. Sigh.
Took a spill last night in our softball teams’ victory… lunging for a ball hit just beyond my reach, I landed on my left shoulder. Thought it came out of the socket… had brother PULL on the wrist to see if there was any give… nope. Just a jammed shoulder. Its ache-ey today. I will have to apply the Bio-Freeze.
I was taken off guard today by Baby Zoe. She was sitting in her little bouncy chair, as she usually is, but this time she had her eyes open. And she was looking at me. And when she noticed I was looking at me, she smiled & yelled for me, “Tay-tay, I want you to pick me up & play with me.” (That last part about the yelling I’m PRETTY sure happened. Though no one else seems to have heard her do it… I did.)
The more time that passes, the more I am convinced that 3 of the really great Sci-Fi shows of all time were:
Last week, I decided to be proactive & deal with my soon-to-expire drivers license. Brother told me what Tom had told him – waiting in line FOR-ever at the Galletti NV-DMV is over-rated… so he told me about the NV-DMV Commercial license renewal place thingy on E. Greg. Evidently, the word on the street is that the Commercial Drivers License place also does REGULAR license renewals for Rubes like me. Even better, Brother had spent a total of 15 minutes in the place & finished all the business one could ever want to finish. Ahhh. Sounds like my kind of place.
Found it. And let’s just say it was a leettlle bit busier that when Tom & Brother had been there. Waiting room had 10 people in it, (which I know is still less than Galletti on an average day,) so I went to the cool, “Take A Number” station, pulled Lucky 403, & found a seat. And waited.
I hadn’t brought any of my normal time passers with me (books, chocolate, portable coffee, or wasser mit kohlensäure) so I went into introspection mode, which unfortunately lasted only about 37 seconds. Done with that, so I decided to look around the room & ‘observe’ the other individuals that were sharing the space that I had mistakenly assumed would be empty.
A couple in the waiting area caught my eye – it was the worried look on her face, & the hushed but strong tones they were speaking in. If I had to guess how old they were, I’d have said 50, but it was hard to tell, because it appeared that they had both lived ‘hard’ lives… you know what I mean… the years had etched themselves into their countenance, leaving visible marks from grief, disappointment, & hardship. Other signs – clothes: a worn & grubby sundress… workman’s shirt, jeans, & boots that had seen much better days… the tell-tale yellowish residue on skin & hair from smoking too many packs of cigarettes for too long, resulting in the visible affects that your mom warned you would happen if you smoked all your life. The woman looked a bit like I remember my Grandma Ramona looking…
I watched from the corner of my eye as their communication became more animated – it became apparent that the woman was scared… she had to take a vision test for her license renewal, & it was obvious she didn’t think she’d pass it. The anxiousness & worry became more pronounced as she got closer to her turn at the vision-apparatus. The man touched her arm gently & made “Shushing” noises… not the “be quiet” ones, but the kind you make to comfort a crying baby.
Her body stiffened when her number was called; she sat in the chair in front of the machine, & he sat next to her, his hand on her back. She took the test & passed. She was relieved. Now to get the picture for the new license.
They walked together to the area where the new pictures would be taken – she was self-conscious – I saw her look disapprovingly at herself, her clothes, & run her fingers through her hair – the signs of sadness, not wanting to get her picture taken.
The man pulled something out of the back pocket of his work pants. It was a hair brush – making the same, reassuring “Shushing” noises, he turned her towards him & began to gently, carefully, brush her long hair. After a couple of minutes of this, he put the brush away & with great care arranged her hair behind her ears, pulled back a bit from her face. And as she was called to the picture taking station, he put one hand on her chin, gazed into her eyes, & quietly said, “You are so pretty.”
The eyes that had been downcast, preoccupied, & self-conscious glimmered & sparkled with the confidence that comes from being loved by someone, that comes by choosing to believe that what you’ve just heard is the God’s honest truth. She sat & smiled for her picture, then arose, took the man’s hand, & they walked out together.
This is a note about the demise of #5, the treadmill pictured at left that is having issues with her speed system. I took this picture in the hopes that she’ll rebound soon. This is the story of how I came to love #5.
I’ve never been much of a “runner” – meaning that working out for me has always meant weights, some cardio (jump-rope, ellipticals, etc.) & whatever sport I happened to be playing at that time. There have been a couple of exceptions – when I was going into 7th grade, i reaaaaallly wanted to drop weight so that I could play in a lower football division (back in the days of Pop Warner weight class based leagues,) so I ate lots of salad & ran around the block several times a day. It worked. I also picked up the habit of eating my salads without any dressing on them; further, I had a hard time with the whole “eating lettuce with a fork,” so I would just pick it up & eat it. Still do.
I also like to run to clear my head – so when things would get noisy in there, I’d go for a run through the streets around my house – often at night. At some point, I found that I really liked the solitude of running, the night air, & being able to wear one of those cool Neon Yellow Vests so that I wouldn’t be invisible to vehicles… still, running was really only done sporadically.
Then something changed – a few years ago, a group of friends started training for a marathon – using the Galloway method, I found that I could run a lot longer & farther than I’d ever been able to before. I was able to go 10K no problem… only to find that my surgically repaired right knee (& the 2 pins in it) didn’t like the distance running… & would let me know about it. Being heavier than I wanted to be also put stress on my hips, knees, & ankles, from the pounding on the streets & sidewalks.
I didn’t end up running the marathon (made it to a 1/2 marathon,) but I kept running – & as long as I kept my distance at about 3-5 miles a couple of times a week, my body seemed to recover well.
I lost some weight (about 3.5 stones) & got used to running the streets about 5 times a week… this last March, the combination of running & playing softball 2x/week left me feeling it in my hips, knees, & ankles again. I missed running & didn’t want to stop, so I started running on the treadmill at my gym… & after the learning curve (the process of learning to walk then run on the treadmill without holding onto the rails,) I came across #5. I’d tried several other treadmills & they all had issues – they were poorly placed in respect to the TV that was tuned to ESPN (see photo at right) – others wre always dirty, or made too much noise for my tastes; a couple would wildly fluctuate their speed & buck like a bronco (I was only thrown twice…)
#5 didn’t have any of those issues – just kept on going, doing her thing. Always clean, always under the TV tuned to ESPN, never bucking. Soft cushion met every step, allowing me to run as often as I wanted. Not outside, but in the cool of the gym, running in place, thinking on everything & nothing. It became a date – if I went to the gym to run, it was always on #5…
And then there was Wednesday – I was at the end of a 5K. Literally as I took the last couple of strides before my cool down, #5 abruptly seized up & ground to a stop. There was a subtle humming noise… a message appeared: “CHECK SPEED SYSTEM.” I tried to do a reset. No response. NO! #5, come back.
I reported the message to The Powers That Be in hopes that #5 will be up & running again soon. And until then, I’m giving #8 & #15 a try.