It’s just not something that I’ve been doing lately.
I haven’t been getting enough exercise.
This morning, I went for a short walk.
It felt good.
It felt familiar.
I think it felt like something I needed.
Anyway, there’s a rock that I pass on the route that I take that is a marker for someone else’s path.
It stands up…like a mid-size monolith.
It could be a bear or an alien or a misplaced bison or anything else that I wouldn’t understand in the dark…but…it’s just a rock.
I took my daughter’s dog, Boba, on a walk with me one nighttime morning a while ago when we were dogsitting him, and when we passed the rock he went crazy with terrified barking.
He didn’t understand…and he was afraid.
The rock is a common part of my experience…so I don’t really pay much attention to it.
To Boba, the rock, silhouetted in the moonlight, could have been anything.
I took him over to the rock to try and explain that it was just a rock, but even in the light of the flashlight that I carry but don’t usually use…even when he could see that it was just a large stone, turned on edge, he kept barking.
The thing that scared him when he couldn’t completely see it was just as scary in the light.
A strong explanation and all the illumination I could give him didn’t mean squat.
Maybe that’s “fear momentum”?
Even when the strange was transformed into something familiar, he couldn’t get over his feeling of dreadful and impending potential doom.
Now, if I was in India (this is an aside…but I’ll tie it in somehow), and I saw a monkey…or even a bunch of monkeys…it would be like seeing a squirrel here in the States.
I wouldn’t pay it much attention.
I’d be mad if it stole my curry, but I wouldn’t be freaked out.
But, if I was here at home and I saw a monkey out on my predawn walk, I would fricking freak.
Fricken freak-out, that is.
A monkey is not a squirrel taken out of context.
Our big dog is not a wolf.
A stone is not a threat.
I see things on the edge of what I understand all the time.
What I think is in the shadows gives me pause sometimes…but the reality of the situation isn’t often the danger that I think it is.
But…I would be scared if a squirrel was messing with me even if I’d seen a kajillion squirrels in my neighborhood over the course of a lifetime.
Familiar doesn’t always mean safe.
Boba is scared of a stone in the dark.
My comfort zone keeps danger at bay.
I will grasp the familiar like holding tight will save my life if it will keep me away from worry.
How’s that for a crappy creed?
“I promise to avoid the things I fear and don’t understand. I promise to calcify my worldview. I promise to never think about things that challenge me or expand my range of experience. I promise to distrust the people around me who don’t share my beliefs or lifestyle. My way…or the highway. In me I trust.”
Long story short, that dog barked at a stone, and I saw him do it.
Who isn’t afraid of the thing he doesn’t understand?
Bad things happen in scary movies…but it’s fake bad.
It’s an imitation of bad.
I guess that it’s still bad, though….but…I know it’s fake.
I don’t know much about Hitler.
That’s real bad.
He was bad.
But…Germany needed a hero.
They were scared after WW1.
They were chastened.
Their economy was in the toilet and the world was turned upside down….so when Hitler came along and started spouting off all his crap, they bit down hard and went along for the ride.
He was their ticket to better times.
He had a plan to put them back on top of their game.
He had a plan to make Germany great again.
He even tried to incite people to take over the government!
This was at an event called the Munich Putsch where he tried to overthrow the Weimar Republic.
They put a gag order on Hitler, then, and told him he couldn’t talk to the German people in public….told him to shut up and stay away from everybody…put him in jail to make sure that didn’t happen.
He wrote Mein Kampf while he was in jail.
(That’s like the intellectual version of a great set of weights out in “the yard”…giving him some quiet time to write his “masterpiece”.)
So…I guess he was in jail for a number of years? From 1923 to 1927?
(That’s what I’d call a “well researched” blog, huh?)
Anyway….the economy in Germany was in the toilet after the first World War….then OUR economy crashed in 1929…and our banks failed….and we called in the loans we’d made to Germany to rebuild their economy…and Germany’s economy went down the toilet even farther…and by this time, Hitler could yell at all the Germans again….(AND THE JEWS WERE THE PROBLEM (!!!!) …and you know what the guy did from then on out.
They let him out of jail….he had his book finished….and it all hit the fan when he could once again speak to the hearts of a scared and angry Germany.
I don’t suppose that calling in all those loans made us very popular with the Germans, either.
People who are scared do stupid things.
We do stupid things to protect what we think someone else is trying to take away from us.
Fear doesn’t do much to build empathy.
You don’t want to walk a mile in another man’s shoes if you think the other guy stole your shoes and has been walking around in them for a while.
That whole “in jail” thing is fascinating to me, though.
They tried to stop this monster from communicating his brand of sedition.
They didn’t want him to insight a riot.
(I’m being silly, now, of course….I know how to spell “incite”….I just thought it was funny how the two different words are spelled…)
You don’t get a chance to be too insightful when you’re being inciteful.
You’re too busy being hateful to be insightful.
I don’t know too much about Hitler.
He was a great speaker and was popular with the German people when they were going through a hard time.
I don’t know if he ever had a moment, though, when he said, “Who? Me?!! I didn’t tell them to light the furnace! I didn’t tell them to do that! It was all rhetorical….that stuff I was saying…I didn’t….WHO? ME?!!”
If a designer were to come into our home…and I say “if” because it would be terrifying for me and unnecessary for my wife (because she’s a good designer)…anyway…”if” that were to happen…and I hope it never does…but…if it happened…one of the first things they’d probably say is “you really need to get rid of those greasy shop manuals on your bookshelf”.
They’d tell me that it just doesn’t work for us visually.
Maybe they’d say that it harshed up the ambiance.
I don’t have a garage…so my manuals are on a lower shelf of the bookshelves…greasy and waiting for something to blow up so that I can use them again.
They remind me that I might be able to wrench myself out of a problem if I only have access to the wisdom of the ages found in their greasy pages.
Greasy things in the living room are just the most glaring example of my accumulation that I’d have to get rid of.
I don’t need a greasy and gleaming lighthouse to beaconize what getting rid of my pile of essentials would mean to the gentrification of our living room.
It’s all of my expendable essentials that I’d need the minute we got rid of them.
I guess I could change, though.
I can try.
I would need to “man purge” like the greatest metrosexual who ever walked the planet.
I’d need to trade wrenches and sockets for a special humidity-controlled drawer in the bedroom where I kept my watch collection.
I’d need my own space in the bathroom for all my grooming products.
I’d need to schedule more mani-pedi’s…more manicures and pedicures…(“manipedis”? Maneeeeeee”pete”eeees?!).
I’d need to learn how to smell better.
I’D HAVE TO HIRE A MAN TO DO ALL MY DIRTY WORK!
We were eating dinner at the table last night and I looked over to see the VW Beetle manual that I haven’t used since I was in my early 20’s.
It was easier to find a Beetle back then.
It’s not any easier to work on a Beetle now than it was then…but it sure was easier to find one to work on.
“My 20’s” was a while ago.
These manuals are history, though.
Every greasy fingerprint jogs my memory.
Every past repair ties me to a different time.
“Tying me” to a different time doesn’t have a positive effect on my bookshelf design.
Writing about how to avoid people focusing on all my crap doesn’t avert anyone’s gaze, either.
Why do I do this?
I better start designing my watch collection drawer.
I better figure out my revolving tie rack.
I better throw a towel over my greasy shop manuals.
That would work!! A towel! Why didn’t I think of that earlier!
I’m safe again.
I won’t have to learn how to smell better after all!
So….here’s the recent order of events: Go to the doctor after work to find out what the weird groinal popups are….find out they’re my new hernia that I got earlier in the day loading a heavy box into the back of the Jeep…then…the following Saturday, in the early stages of my injury, buy some books about trail running at the used book sale/store.
That’s what I call “wishful”.
Now, I’m waiting to find out when I can have surgery to fix the bulge and things can get back to normal.
And, when I’m waiting for things to get back to normal, I can read about running.
That should be a motivator.
Does anybody talk about being an “armchair runner”?
That’s what I’ll be….for a while.
Here’s a video made 2 weeks before the beginning of the quarantine.
I had a book when I was younger called “Winners Never Quit”.
Published in 1970, it was a book about different athletes who persevered over an assortment of obstacles and succeeded in their various sports.
It made a big impression on me.
I’d run….throw….tackle…and think, even if my results weren’t “world-class”…even for an 11-year-old…that “winners never quit”…and I’d persevere.
I’d keep working at playing.
I’d turn it up a notch…and play harder.
I was a “winner”…just like all the guys in the book.
(“Guys in the book…”? I just realized that this book was only about the guys in the book! I guess that Phil Pepe wrote it for guys….but these days we’d have persevering men and women in a book like this. Women do persevere, too…right? But…I digress.)
Where was I?
Oh, yeah…winners never quit.
That being said…what’s going on with the world these days?
Anything interesting or strange?
Who’s a winner? Who’s a loser? Who can trust anything or anyone when everything is questioned and distrusted?
Do the math!
Ferret out the people who’d steal and lie and cheat to achieve their goal…and then remove them from your path!
Don’t let anyone set your destiny on an alternate and less satisfying path!
Not even if it’s 78 million “anyones”.
The world is a cool place.
The world is a kooky place.
Winners Never Quit was written in the days before steroid scandals and all the other kinds of cheating we often see today in sports. It was written when we could still be sincere and trusting and we lacked our now strong ability to always expect the ironic or sarcastic punchline. Why, back in the day, they’d take away your Olympic medals if you’d played semi-pro baseball (Jim Thorpe) and a hero was a hero was a hero. We didn’t know any better. We didn’t have the information. We didn’t have the internet. We could take most things at face value.
Now, we can’t know what face value means anymore.
(My oldest son used to say “I can’t know” when he was little. Pretty funny…)
It’s a skill to spread distrust and confusion.
It’s by design that things are shaken and constantly in flux.
We still want to buy the snake oil if the salesman has a good rap.
Who can figure out how to find something amazing in their life….every day?
No one can do that.
So, that being said, I think I’ll continue my trend of “not looking” and just settle back into accepting that not much happens in the world that’s very interesting.
There’s plenty of amazing things that happen….amazing places…amazing people.
Lots of amazing things.
I’m not always good at finding them all….but I could be the best at looking for them.
Maybe I could be the very best at trying to be amazed by the people and things around me?
That would be a good skill to develop and sustain.
And…maybe I need to find the amazement in the common and under-appreciated? Be graciously full of gratitude every day? Be the guy who says “Man….that’s nice!” instead of the guy who wonders “I wonder why they did that?”.
I don’t know if an amazing thing will happen today.