Monday, August 19, 2013

Townships and Space Ships: An Update


"Few men during their lives come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used." - Richard Byrd

Growing up, I was afraid to smile outdoors for fear that my teeth would get sunburned.
Every summer, I watched as my skin became darker and my hair grew lighter, so I knew one of two things could happen: My teeth would be bleached, or they would settle into a deep shade of tan. I have never been a gambler.
2nd grade yearbook photo. This haircut had built-in ear muffs.

I evangelized my convictions to my second grade classroom, and they stopped smiling outdoors during recess. Our teacher had to intervene with a special lecture on how we do not, in fact, have melanin in our teeth. Classroom life went on; smiling resumed among my peers. Still, I ran around closed-mouthed and anxious, consciously attending to a belief I knew to be false.

Sometimes we believe false things. I used to believe townships were space ships and that every municipality had one. There was no evidence to support this. I thought chocolate pudding gave people freckles. I thought ducklings were self-conscious, because of the ugly one. Kids are just crazy. And we don’t grow out of it.

There is a woman who works in the health food store near my home in New Jersey. She once told me that drinking milk is worse for your health than smoking cigarettes, and she really meant it. It’s funny because we’re such an open, tolerant society but completely lactose intolerant.

And sometimes we believe we can’t do things that we can, which is the worst. We set artificial limitations and operate at a certain level or just under it and never really test our boundaries or engage our imaginations to conceive of what we might be capable of. That’s why I like ultramarathoning. It gives me an honest appraisal of how far I can actually run, beyond what I thought I could do, or sometimes less. Fitness is perpetually in flux.

The point is: beliefs are embodied in action, and if you believe your ceiling is lower than it actually is, you live a more truncated existence than you potentially ought. We’re already finite. It’s limiting the limited.
husband of the year

Update:

School has begun, and Cross Country season is in full swing. Our team is wonderful (and HUGE!), and everyone is working hard. Our first meet is next weekend in Dallas! Go Falcons. 

I have a brief reprieve from ultras. My next race is 24 Hours the Hard Way (the National Championship) in October, followed by Team RWB Trail Running Camp in November and some of the Texas trail races in the Spring. It's going to be a good year. 

Team!