KingMidget's Ramblings

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A Riddle For You

What if …

You are dead.  That’s right.  It’s all over for you.  There is no more more there.  You’ve reached the end.  The heart don’t beat.  The brain waves aren’t waving.  You’re done. Kaput.

And what if …

This is your heaven.

I have two questions for you.

Did you do everything you wanted to do before the Grim Reaper came a-knocking?

… did you stand in the face of evil and say no?  With a ferocity that surprised you?

… did you let fear control you, or did you control your fear?

… did you kiss somebody who made your toes curl and that place in your core quiver?

… did you raise your kids, those little rug rats you had dreams of, to the pedestal you had placed them on?

… did you do something that was meaningful, not to your spouse or your boss or your friends, no, did you do that thing that was meaningful only to you?

… did you help somebody when you could and whisper “pay it forward”?  And then think to yourself that maybe you had just created a ripple?

 

… did you put aside your prejudices and your biases and your hate and your rage and love for the sake of love?

… did you hug somebody for them and not for you?

… did you achieve your dreams or dream them day after day and never move beyond dreams?  Did you never push the envelope and take those steps to make those dreams your reality?

 

And my second question to you is this …

If this is your heaven …

… was it worth it?

… were the dramas and traumas you experienced in your life worth where you are now?

 

Maybe I Shouldn’t Waste My Time

A week ago, I posted about getting sucked back into Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. After publishing that post, I sat down with the first book in the series and had it finished twenty-four hours later. I decided to move on to the second book.

There’s an intriguing thing going on. Now that I know how the series ends, I can see things he’s doing …

well …

I guess I have to do this.

[Spoiler Alert]

If you don’t want to know the ending to the Dark Tower series, read no further.

You’ve been warned.

Last chance.

So, after seven books and thousands of pages, the Dark Tower series ends in a reveal that the entire thing, the whole story, the whole universe created in the books, is entirely in the writer’s head. Which I get — that’s the truth of any piece of fiction. But after seven books of the gunslinger looking for the Dark Tower, he reaches it only for the creator of the story to snatch it away from him and … start the quest for the Dark Tower all over again.

The fascinating thing about this is what it says about the writer’s curse. I think that’s really what the series is about. We writers never stop our own search for the Dark Tower. We never stop sending our characters out there in search of that something. That answer to everything.

The thing is when I read somebody else’s story, particularly one that goes on for seven books, that cannot possibly be the ending. Roland needed to find the Dark Tower and the story needed to end.

The problem now is that I’m halfway through book two and it is just plodding along with so much detail, so much back story (I mean seriously, there’s more back story than there is actual story going on). I don’t know how much more I can take.

Beating Myself

I have long been accused of being a competitive person. I can’t deny that I am. And sometimes that competitiveness comes out in ugly ways. When I played a lot of tennis in my younger days, I was the John McEnroe of College Greens (the neighborhood where I grew up). I kicked my tennis racket. Threw my tennis racket. Hit tennis balls in anger over the fence. Screamed at myself. You get the idea.

But it was never about winning. About beating my opponent. Whether in tennis or softball or in the various board games and card games I’ve played over the years. No. My competitive fire is entirely internal. It’s about beating myself.

Back to those days on the tennis court. When I threw my racket, it wasn’t because I lost a point or a set or a match. It was because I didn’t make a play I thought I should have made. When I played backgammon or pinochle, it wasn’t about winning. It was about figuring the ins and outs and the best way to play the game.

Enter running and the proof of my theory.

When I started running, I just wanted to get to the point where I could run three miles in thirty minutes without needing to take a walking break. It took me a few months to get there. A few months where it seemed that, no matter what, I always needed to walk after about fifteen minutes of running. One day I decided I was going to keep running through that fifteen minute wall. I did and I learned that beyond that wall is the best part of the run — when your breathing evens out, your legs lose that initial stiffness and ache, and you feel like you may just be able to run forever.

And what happened? I started logging every run. Distance, time, average speed. I set out to run further, faster and both further and faster. I wasn’t competing against anybody else. I was trying to beat myself. To always step it up a notch.

My thirty minute three mile runs turned into runs of all distances up to half marathon length where I could run at a nine minute pace, and for shorter runs, a faster pace. One of my favorite things back then was to go to the gym at lunch time and see how much distance I could put on a treadmill in thirty minutes. I was beating myself.

And then came the groin tear while playing soccer. And the second groin tear while playing soccer. And the third groin tear while playing soccer. And I have a bit of self-inflicted damage that prevents me from running the distances I did before.

It’s been years of struggling with the motivation to run ever since that injury. When I first started back to it, I decided to try to eliminate the endless tracking of distance and pace from the equation. No more logging my runs, no more stop watch on my wrist. Just a generalized idea of the distance of my runs. I even stopped paying attention to how many minutes my runs were. I wanted to take a more relaxed attitude to the whole thing. I was trying to change my own personal dynamic.

I knew that my pace had slowed from those nine minute mile days, but in my head I could tell myself it didn’t matter. What mattered was getting out there three or four days a week and running three to five miles each time. Or running 30-60 minutes each time. Somewhere in between those goalposts. And I’d stay healthy and fit. That was what needed to matter.

The problem is that I struggled with the motivation to keep running. Far too frequently, I found excuses not to run and those three or four days of running per week frequently turned into no runs per week. Or two runs on the weekend followed by absolutely nothing during the week.

A few months ago, a friend started posting pictures from an app on her phone. Runkeeper. The images showed a picture of her after her run with the time, distance, and pace of her run. As I watched those pictures over the last few months, I saw that her pace was steadily improving, as was her distance. And I thought I could do that. If only I could get motivated again.

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the Runkeeper app to my phone. I’ve gone for seven runs since. Today was my first four mile run since starting this up again.

I may have just re-learned a thing about myself. It’s about beating myself. Let’s see if I can do it again.

Generally Speaking …

Why do women like musicals while men don’t?  (I ask this question after seeing Phantom of the Opera with the missus and experiencing 2 1/2 hours of the most mind-numbing entertainment ever.)

Why do drivers believe they are the center of the universe, the rules don’t apply to them, and if you follow the rules, you’re the problem?  (I ask this question after days, weeks, months, and years of experience on the roads and seeing people just become more and more stupid.)

Why does the current young adult generation seem so lost?  (I ask this question as I struggle with my own young adult children and their own struggles with growing up.  They are both boys.  Please don’t apply your own generalization to this and say “it’s because boys mature later.”)

Why does the political discussion seem to be totally dominated by the extremes of both sides — both of which seem completely and totally unwilling to consider there may be any validity to the other side’s views?  (Okay, that may not be a generalization.  It may just be true.)

That’s what I’ve got for now.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  Let me know what you come up with.

A Song For The Day

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