I am not sure if this is really good advice or not. But it’s better than ‘get drunk as you can’ and ‘go kill someone’ so let’s say it’s good, ok?
The truth is, most of the time when we think we are in hot water, we aren’t, just like when we take a bath. We get in and it is HOT! But before too long it’s actually quite temperate. Bad events are often like that too. We see them as outrageous, unforgivable, irredeemable at first. Then we realize they aren’t as bad as we thought. It might take a while, weeks or months even, but eventually we find we will survive.
So, maybe the best thing to do when you are confronted with getting in trouble is to do exactly this, take a bath. Or a go for a walk, or a run. Or watch a movie. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just mellow out for a bit so you can calm down and see the situation through more reasonable eyes.
Then, if you are still in hot water, get a lawyer!
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Quote is a Chinese proverb
This past weekend showed an utterly disgusting and dangerous side of America, that of the white nationalist and white supremacist. It’s easy to throw up your arms in outrage and frustration saying, ‘who are these people and why are they so angry and filled with hate?’ It’s a good question, especially in light of the fact that they say they are celebrating ‘heritage not hate’. So, let’s talk about this, shall we?
One of the young men who got a lot of attention was Peter Cvjetanovic, of Reno, Nevada. He is 20 years old. He is quoted as saying, “I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture.” He says he is not a racist yet he is at an obviously racist rally.
This got my attention for a number of reasons. One, I too am of European heritage. If I could choose to go anywhere on my travels, I again and again find myself wanting to go to Europe. It’s where my ancestors came from and it’s what I feel connected on a very personal level. But I don’t feel anything like what he feels. why is that? This is an exploration of why. Two, I am an old guy compared to him. I want to talk to this young man like I would talk to a son or daughter. I want to help him understand things just a little bit deeper if he will listen.
So, with that in mind here is my open letter to him.
Here are 5 ways you can love their heritage and not be a racist.
1. Learn it to Love It
Don’t be fooled by a simplistic, outdated and false narratives about your people and your culture, or any culture. You might be under the illusion that Europe did all the great things it did (and it did some pretty amazing things) because it’s people are genetically superior. This is not true. I suggest you read the book ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond for a very thorough and insightful story of how history comes about. It will open your eyes to the advantages Europe had in many areas that allowed for its development, advantages that have nothing to do with genetics or the superiority of it’s people.I would then suggest you read up on the science of race, In particular how race was defined centuries and decades ago in ways that are no longer valid, how those divisions still cloud your understanding of a separation where none actually exist. It will be eye-opening.
The point is, of course, to educate yourself. Once you do that, your love for your heritage will be more complex, tinged with sadness at the terrible atrocities committed in Europe and by Europeans elsewhere, but also tinged with pride at the many amazing, loving and positive things Europeans have done as well. If you are going to have a relationships with the past, it should be like any deep relationship, achieved by really knowing the good and the bad.
2. Be Cultured to Know Culture
If you want to take pride in a culture, you must be cultured. That means you need to know something about the art, music, architecture, philosophy, literature, food, commerce, business, languages, history and religions of that culture. You can’t take pride in something you don’t know. You are in college now, nothing is easier to learn in almost any American college than western civilization. There are likely courses dedicated to every element I mentioned above. Study those things, immerse yourself in those things. Find out about the sweep of art from the Greek sculptures to the Abstract Expressionists. Learn why Beethoven was considered such a genius. Discover the difference between Wagner and Verdi. Look into the split between Luther and the Catholic Church.
When you do these things you will be amazed. You will also be enlightened, not just by ‘The Enlightenment’ (read Voltaire, by the way) but by the profound level of hate and anger that many of these artistic, cultural and religious geniuses endured as they put forth their vision. It should teach you that courage is about love, not hate. People don’t create lasting value in their culture by hating someone or something. They create it by following an idea they love. Focus on that.
3. Go There to Know There
If you want to love your heritage, go there. Instead of spending your money to go from Reno to Charlottesville to protest, take the money and go to England or France or Italy or wherever you feel your roots are. Go with your mother, father or better yet a grandparent, and together see where you were from. See the amazing structures, fantastic discoveries, and outrageous creativity of your ancestors. That is all good. But don’t just look at what is popular. Go search out what isn’t so great. Look into the slave trade that took hold in England and the Netherlands. Look at the treatment of people from different social classes and the extreme poverty so many lived in, look at how women and children were treated during the industrial revolution. I don’t say you should do this so you will feel bad about your heritage. I say it so you will fully know your heritage.
4. See that the River Has Many Sources
My wife, daughter and I once sat on the banks of the Mississippi river in New Orleans and I remember wondering where all that water came from. Years later we were up in Colorado and we went rafting on the Arkansas River. It wasn’t wide or majestic, but raw and wild. I remember realizing how it was the same great plains river that flows no more than 3 miles from my home in Oklahoma and it was part of that huge river I sat next to in Louisiana.
Your culture is like that. It may seem to be all about Europe, but it’s sources come from all over the world. The Greeks and Romans took inspiration from the Middle East and Egypt. The beauty of so much of Spain’s architecture has its roots in the Islamic religion that prevailed for hundreds of years on the Iberian peninsula. The Impressionists created some of their most iconic compositions as a result of the influx of Japanese prints. Genghis Khan and his empire from Mongolia spread ideas about politics, trade and commerce into Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East that had never been seen before.
Next, get your DNA researched. You will be amazed at how complex and convoluted the genetic path to you really is. It could be you are mostly European like I am, but you could also have African-American heritage like I do. You could be connected to Asia or Native America in ways you never could have guessed. It will get you out of your pre-conceived notions of who you are and where you came from. Check out this wonderful spot that explains it in ways I never could.
5. Repress Judgment, Express Curiosity
I like to think of myself as an amateur ‘expert’ on the Revolutionary War era in America. What that really means is I have read a lot of books on the subject. But recently many of my ideas about the personalities of that era have been blown apart by reading ‘Alexander Hamilton’ by Ron Chernow. It goes into much more detail about Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Adams and Hamilton than any other book I have read. The information has made me reevaluate all my settled opinions of these people. I could refuse to believe Chernow’s information, accuse him of lying about these characters I like so much, and be done with it. But I didn’t do that. I was open-minded to what I might find because I focused on learning and curiosity instead of judgment.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions, but this book is a reminder that I need to hold my opinions lightly. If I really am going to be an ‘expert’ on something, then I need to be willing to learn new things about that thing and I can’t do that if I am constantly judging and proclaiming I already know everything about it. Do you want to really know your European culture? Then you have to be open-minded and curious, with as few assumptions and prejudices as possible for that to happen successfully.
Where To Go From Here
Now, look back at these ideas. Which one of these would make you a racist? None of them. None of these ideas will create hate in you for other cultures, other races, other individuals. As a matter of fact, they should lessen the fear you have and strengthen the love you have, both for your culture and for the amazing strands of ideas, art and humanity that led there. It should free you to see that yours is not the only culture deserving of interest, admiration and respect.
In the end I wish for you this realization. Your true heritage is both European and beyond that. It is Human. You can live side by side with someone who is not like you and you can learn and teach instead of fear and hate. If you do that I promise that feeling of hate will turn to love. And that is really where you want to be, right?
Well, here I am at the halfway point in my training. The funny thing about marathon training is there really often isn’t a start date in the traditional sense because people don’t start from scratch, just deciding to start running on day one of training. They’ve been running already, otherwise they really wouldn’t be able to even do the first week of training successfully. In my case there was a number of months of running increasing distances as I recovered from my surgery. The surgery was in November of 2016. in December and January went from a cast to walking. Then I started my ramp-up to training.
- Feb – 7.2 miles
- Mar – 39.6 miles
- Apr – 65.5 miles
- May – 57.6 miles
Training started in June and the mileage doubled.
- Jun – 120.8 miles
- July – 140.1 miles
August is shaping up to be 150+ miles and I expect September to be the same since all my really long runs will be during those two months. October will be less since I will be tapering the mileage as the marathon nears.
Taking the bull by the horns on a HOT day with our Broken Arrow runners!
Racing and Time Trials
One of the important things to calculate in training to race any distance is what is your sustainable pace. To do this it’s good practice to do time trials or races at various distances over the course of your training. This is what I have done recently.
- TU Track 1.5 mile time trial (July) – 11:41, a 7:45 pace. (very hot)
- Maple Ridge 5K (May) – 24:50, a 7:55 pace. (humid and hot)
- Bedlam Run 10K (Aug) – 54:37, an 8:38 pace. (good conditions)
- Tulsa Run 15K (October, before surgery) 1:29:20, a 9:31 pace (I can extrapolate from how I am running post-surgery that I would probably be able to do this race closer to a 9:00 pace)
So, the only distance I haven’t raced recently is a 1/2 marathon. I am contemplating doing one in September just to complete the time trials and get a fuller picture of what I can do. Once I do that I will calculate what looks to be a sustainable marathon pace. Right now it looks like about a 10 minute mile, but I will wait until closer to the race to make a definitive decision on what pace I will run.
After the Bedlam 10K
That is it for now. Feel free to ask any questions or give any comments you want!
In addition, those of you in Tulsa, our 15k running programs starts in less than 2 weeks. We will get you to the Tulsa Run and beyond! contact me if you are interested.
You can read the rest of the series here.
See you running,
The Dead but Alive Woman
She woke up every morning only seeing what was behind her. She sometimes would try to turn her head but could not. It was as if she was made of stone. So, she looked back. She remembered the many signs telling her not to go in that direction and how long the journey down the road had been. She cried remembering when she so terribly wanted shade and found only tree stumps. She was disgusted when she remembered going through the trash looking for something to eat and finding only rotting food, which she ate. She saw the snake and was scared all over again. She remembered the pain of the bite and the dizziness and fever she felt almost immediately afterward. She wondered if her eyes were fooling her because she didn’t remember the coyote being pink, though she did remember it howling as she fell in the hole. She didn’t want to look at the river at all, but couldn’t help it. It was where she drowned after she stumbled out of the hole.
The Woman in the Cabin
The woman in the cabin lived alone. The cabin was small but still had enough room to bring in strays that needed help. She had such a stray now. It was a dead but alive woman she had found in the river. The woman was dead but alive, a phenomenon she had seen many times before. There was no heartbeat, no breathing. She was cold but not hard. The woman in the cabin poured warm water over her and then laid a blanket of orange flowers on her naked body. She sprinkled grass on top of the blanket, then very fine pebbles on top of that. She left her alone and went to carve the rock.
The Indian with the Limp
At the edge of the plateau there lived an Indian with the limp who the woman in the cabin was friends with. She would tell him about her work carving the rock and he would sometimes help her move the broken stones to the waterfall so they could be washed away. He didn’t understand what she was carving but he enjoyed the sound of her hammering in the distance during the day. He sometimes brought her rabbit for dinner. She sometimes brought him corn for breakfast.
The indian with the limp asked her once what she was trying to do with the rock. All the woman in the cabin would say is she was working on creating a new face on the other side of it, facing the hills and mountains, similar but not exactly like the face facing the dry land. He didn’t see anything resembling a face yet but it didn’t matter, he encouraged her anyway because he liked her. She knew he didn’t see it but she didn’t mind, because she liked him.
The Indian with the limp had collected the orange flowers and the pebbles and brought them to the woman in the cabin the day before, when she had a stray coyote with a twisted tail come in. But the tail had straightened itself out with just a little burnt crepe myrtle paste put on it so the flowers and pebbles weren’t needed. The Indian was happy about this because he knew they would be helpful to the dead but alive woman from the river.
The Indian with the limp loved to gather things for the woman in the cabin. It was a chance for him to explore and have a purpose. He didn’t know what jobs were but if he did he would have called it his job and he liked his job very much. He also liked that he was helping animals and people heal. His favorite thing was to collect the little pebbles from the river. He often thought about how he helped her throw the big rocks into the river after she chiseled them off the carving, then he would bring back little pebbles that were just those big rocks having been broken down. The Indian with the limp thought that was amusing and would smile as carried them back up to the plateau.
The dead but alive woman took a long time to recover. She stayed at the woman in the cabin’s cabin for many months. She would sit in a chair and look back over the plateau to the dry land below and feel no better than the day before. The woman in the cabin saw what was happening and one morning moved the chair to the other side of the plateau. The dead but alive woman then was forced to look over the hills and mountains and to watch the woman in the cabin do her carving. She learned about the carving and would watch the woman in the cabin chisel every day as she sat in her chair. She met the Indian with the limp and thanked him for help the woman in the cabin get the supplies to make her better. When she felt strong enough she asked if she could be of any help and the woman in the cabin told her it would be helpful if she would sing for her while she carved. She she said she only knew 2 songs. The woman in the cabin told her not to worry, she would teach her many songs, which she did.
The dead but alive woman loved the new songs she learned and would sing them beautifully. The Indian with the limp started coming by each morning and would play along with a drum he had. The coyote with the no longer twisted tail would even come close once in a while and howl in harmony. The woman in the cabin was able to work faster and longer with the beautiful music being sung and soon the new carving was almost finished.
One morning, well before the sun rose, the woman in the cabin awoke the dead but alive woman and told her to get ready, she was going on a journey. The dead but alive woman asked what sort of journey. The woman in the cabin said she wasn’t able to tell her what sort of journey or how long it would last. All she said about the journey was that the Indian with the limp would help her as she got on her way.
The woman in the cabin had packed a nice backpack full of food, clothing, and supplies for the dead but alive woman. The dead but alive woman wanted to take one last look around, to remember where she had been healed. The woman in the cabin let her do that, but would not let her go to the edge of the plateau and look back at the dry land below.
The Indian with the limp was waiting at the other edge of the plateau with a lantern to help them down to the hills below in the dark. The dead but alive woman hugged the woman in the cabin and said she would see her later. The woman in the cabin said nothing, just smiled and gave her a kiss goodbye. The indian with the limp and the dead but alive woman hiked down the side of the plateau until they reached a trail going up the hills towards the mountains. They traveled over three sets of hills until mid-day. Then they took a break, sitting down for lunch. The Indian with the limp told her this was where he was going to leave her.
The Alive Woman
The dead but alive woman was about to ask why when she saw the carving in the distance. Up on the plateau, high and strong in the mid-day sun, was a beautiful face facing her. It was her face but it wasn’t. It was the face of an alive woman, not of a dead but alive woman. She forgot what she was going to ask the Indian with the limp and just stared. Then she looked in the direction the face in the rock was looking. It was looking towards the mountains.
The alive woman said goodbye to the Indian with a limp and asked him to make sure the woman in the cabin knew how grateful she was for her love. The indian with the limp said he would. Then he said his goodbye and went back towards the plateau. The alive woman hiked the backpack up onto her back and set off. As she walked she could hear the howl of the coyote with the no longer twisted tail. She started to sing along.
Drawing and story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Is Nothing Impossible?
You want to make a popular meme? Have it say ‘Nothing is impossible’. You will get a lot of people agreeing with you. But it’s a lie, many things are impossible. You can’t grow another foot taller if you are already grown up. You can’t eat 2 tons of food at one sitting. You can’t become a young child again once you are older. You can’t run 500 miles an hour. Those things are impossible.
What that saying really means is this: things that you assume are impossible, but that are actually not impossible, can be accomplished if you set your mind to it. What or who decides it’s impossibility? You do. If you say it’s impossible, then it will be. But if you say it’s possible, then it may be.
I know this because I am a coach of long distance runners and a long distance runner myself. I started running when a new co-worker of mine turned out to be a casual runner. She would run at lunchtime and I decided to join her. At first I ran about 100 yards, then walked the rest of the way around the part of the river near where we worked. I was amazed she could run the whole 2.75 miles. It seemed impossible to me. I eventually was able to run the entire way with her, but it probably took about 6 months or so.
Making the impossible possible takes time.
My first race, a 5k in 2008
As you know I have been doing a lot of stretching, trying to get more limber and flexible. And it is working. I am able to move and stretch much farther than I ever have before. I never thought it was impossible, I just thought it was going to be difficult, and it has been. But I have stuck with it and am making progress.
Here is something that has made it more difficult than you may realize. When I was 18 years old I was burned on 70% of my body in a boat explosion. My back, the back of my arms and my legs were burned the worse, though much of my stomach and chest got it too. The reason I am telling you this is because of the scars. I have scars that travel the length of my arms all the way to the bottom of my back with no break. The resulting scars are very tight and that means my ability to stretch is limited by them. When I bend over and touch my toes (which I can do now!) it feels like I am one giant rubber band stretched to its limits and wants to snap back. Not letting it snap back can be painful. Not terribly, but painful nonetheless.
I knew I could increase my flexibility if I worked to do so. I knew my muscles could be stretched further. What I didn’t know is how far my scars would stretch. They are not like muscles or tendons. They are hard, fibrous scar tissue that does not want to stretch. How far can I stretch them? What is possible and what is impossible? There is only one way to find out, and that is to do the stretching.
Making the impossible possible is only found out in the doing.
Burn Scars – Left Arm, unstretched and stretched
I did a 14 miler this past Saturday. I did 2 miles with one of the half marathon groups, H2, and then turned around so I could be back at the store in time to lead Pathways. The fastest marathon group, M1, just happened to be passing us when I did the turn around so I joined them. Ok, I joined them for about a half a mile then I couldn’t keep up and had to slow down (they are wicked fast). But even with the slowing down I was still doing close to 9 minute miles back to the store. . At that point I still had over 10 miles to go, only 5 of which I would have company. Those 10 were at a very reasonable pace for me, but the fact I had pushed so hard at on an early mile or two really affected my abilities at the end.
What that taught me, which all runners learn again and again (because we are both a forgetful and optimistic bunch) is that going out too fast in a training run or a race will come back to bite you.
Making the impossible possible demands discipline.
As I write the temperatures have dropped 10-15º. A high of 85, though hot by some standards, feels like a cool ocean breeze when it hits Oklahoma in August. It will be interesting to see how my runs go with better temps and more overcast skies this week. We have a 10k goal race for Pathways this coming Saturday. I will be running as a coach but also as a time trial to help me gauge my racing abilities. Wish me luck!
That’s it for now. Thanks for tuning in. Here is a link to the entire series.
You can read the entire series by choosing ‘marathon training’ from the series drop down menu on the right.