Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Here is what I was doing 365 days ago. In a deep, drug induced sleep, slowly warming up under the care of two angels, Carly and Kevin. I cannot believe that a year has passed since the grace of the gift of my surgery. Today, a year later, the world’s headlines are on the aftermath of the earthquake in New Zealand, Gadhafi Duck hanging on to power in Libya, the price of oil continuing to rise, Lindsay Lohan’s troubles being laid out for the world to see, and the announcement of the launch date for the iPad II. Nowhere is there a headline screaming “HE LIVES”, but that is my headline. I am alive and very well today. Why? Here are some reasons;

1- SOAPE - My Source Of All Positive Energy. Has many other names: Higher Power, God, Mother Earth, Allah, Burt - the label list is infinite. My understanding would not fill the change purse of a baby gnat, but no matter. SOAPE takes care of me.

2- My Wife - She loves me, likes me, puts up with me, supports me, carries me, lets me annoy her but is like the soft centre of my Caramilk of Life. How she got there and why I deserve her only SOAPE knows

3 - Cousins - A man with no living siblings should feel alone but not with fabulous and helpful and wise and generous cousins.

4 - Critters - A tabby cat, a black cat, a white cat, a calico cat and a beagle - all are experts at putting life into context and perspective

5 - Fathers - Jack and Joe know the foolishness of the head office, the wisdom in the original instructions, and how to make it work in the fields.

6 - Doctors - My Family Doctor and the Doctors at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

7 - Nurses - The wit who coined the Disney Phrase "Don't Fuck With the Mouse" was certainly inspired by an encounter with some of those inspired by Florence Nightingale. Nurses are overworked, under appreciated, and underpaid. But since Kevin and Carly and Kathy and the many others had no visible wings it sort of debunks A Wonderful Life.

8 - Friends - Sunday Night Friends, Tuesday Night Friends, Thursday Night Friends, Friends Made 50 years ago, Friends made yesterday.

9 - Taxes - Thank God and SOAPE Almighty that we can pay taxes.

10 - Life Itself - The promise of dawn, the brightness of the day, the tranquility of evening, and the blessing of the night.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I am going to run 5K in the 2011 Diefenbooker Classic on April 30th. There, I have said it. The run is sponsored by my health clinic, Ottawa area libraries, and the Diefenbunker. I got my doctor's okay and I am back to being a runner.

I am abandoning the clock and the heart rate monitor and the advice books. I have a 5K course and I start off by walking and then I run when I feel like it and then when I feel a bit winded, I walk. and then after a bit I run until I am a bit winded and then I walk etc etc etc.

I may abandon this structureless course of action in the future (in fact one of the docs at my clinic is a Chi Runner and I have signed up for that) but so far I like it. I have found that I can get very hung up on procedures and programmes: Run five and ones, run ten and ones, challenge the hill, don't wiggle your head. All of this is well intentioned, but I do not want to run a marathon and I do not give a rodent's buttock about a) personal best, b) maximum return on time investment, c) winning, d) constant improvement, or e) failure not being an option. My motto is that this endeavor is not worth doing unless you can do it with a) not succeeding, b) injury, c) humiliation, d) coming in last, e) being outrun by a toddler, and f) totally failing and giving up. That is what makes it so sweet and so real and so wonderful.

Today , as it was Family Day , I walked and ran in the afternoon. It was minus 12 C, the sun was out , but there was one heck of a wind. I wore a very goofy but warm faux fur hat with massive ear flaps. On my feet I had the brand new New Balance 880s and a windjacket, and two underjackets. I looked like the perfect tool.

I walked the first 400 meters and then ran a couple of hundred and then walked a couple of hundred and ran a couple of hundred. I got very warm, and I started to sweat and puff a bit but those bypassed arteries held their own. Slumbering chipmunks would have heard my clop, clop, clop, and in their state of torpor would think "he is back". Dreaming chipmunks, the cold wind, the rough and icy road: the lonely trudge of the reborn runner.

Who knows where this will lead? To the 5K Diefenbooker? Maybe a autumn 10K? Maybe total failure? Each has advantages and disadvantages. But I know the most dangerous thing that I can do: Sit on a couch, watch TV, and eat potato chips.

Being a runner means fresh air, new pains in joints, the possibility of encounters of bears (I live in the country) and freedom. Diefenbooker here I come.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lions and tigers and bears Oh My! ! I have thought a lot of that line from the Wizard of Oz over the last days – A silly and whimsical and fun conversation that Dorothy and the Tinman and Scarecrow have as they enter the Enchanted Forest to give them courage. (just before they meet the Cowardly Lion) Have you read John Valliant’s “The Tiger – A True Story of Vengeance and Survival” ? Read that book and no beast will frighten you more than the tiger. Except maybe for Kalahari Lions. The Bushman never mention the lion by name in the daylight hours. Why risk waking a slumbering beast? And my mind is fresh with the warning signs about bear attack on the portion of the Juan de Fuca Trail that I very briefly traversed a few days ago.
All this rambling preamble brings me to the wonderful vacation I just had with my wife in the small, small village of Shirley in British Columbia. I am sitting in a hot tub on the deck of small cabin. Below me is the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I can smell the ocean and feel the spray of the salty misty that gets carried up 30 metres. I can see Washington State and the Olympic Mountains across the waters and the occasional container ship that traverses the marine highway. The ocean is for the brave and the hearty and I am neither. I am not a mariner; I know nothing of the darkness of the sea, of her anger, of her deep cold, of her temper, of her bounty. And yet I sit in a 40 degree C bubbling froth of chlorinated fresh water and dare look upon her.
Lions and tigers and bears Oh My! ! The Kalahari Lions at sleep during the day. When does the sea sleep?