“You Have to Start Somewhere”

My son said this to me today.  And he meant well and he was right and I am not going to say anything disparaging about him.

But, damn it, starting over again at Square One, at the first step is a bit discouraging.

I spent a lot of time last year prepping for my hike on the Appalachian Trail and loved it.  I decided to start pursuing hiking with as much gusto as I could.

And then school started.

And I fell into the routine that exists.

And the hiking stopped.

And the running stopped.

And the eating didn’t stop.

I’m not quite back at “square one.”  But I’m definitely not at square two.  I’m more so kind of in square-one-and-a-half.

Sure, I could write up the list of reasons why certain things had to take precedent.  How I made some really good choices in lieu of running or hiking or healthy eating or all the other words that can be inserted in these mad-libs-blanks.

But, in the end, those were still choices that I made, much like choices I have been making over the years which have yielded similar results and similar levels of frustration and disappointment.

Today, I am there again.  And, similar to how I felt in the past, I could feel defeated, conquered, shamed.

Or, I could sit here in my room and type on my blog and decide that this is simply not going to be the emotions that I will allow to capitalize this moment.

Okay, I made some stupid choices.  I would like to see anyone else tell me that they didn’t make stupid choices.

And right before I deck ’em, I’m going to tell them that they just made their first stupid choice…and that was trying to flaunt to me how great they were.

Yeah, I wrote were.

I know of one man who didn’t make stupid choices.  He walked on water.  Healed the sick.  Gave the blind their sight.  Stuck demons into pigs.

He didn’t make stupid choices.

But I make them all the time.

I guess this is why I really do want to write the Singing with the Bees poetry chap book.  I want to write about my mistakes, look at them as hard as I can.  Reconcile myself to those mistakes.

Understand why I made those choices and then…

Just release them.  Let them finally fall to the ground with the hard smash as I just let everything that broke me break into their own million beautiful pieces.

And then I’ll sweep them away.

I will always live with the shadows of my mistakes.  Some of them are a bit more irreparable than others.

But, in the end, they were not fully and completely destructive.

I haven’t done illegal drugs.  I never abused prescription medication.  I’ve never driven drunk.  Or hurt people in malicious ways that would bring me to court.

So I could look at myself through my translucent, justice-blindfold and see that my scales tip in my favor.

Congratulate myself.

Feel pretty good about myself.

For the most part.

Regardless, today, as I finished doing twenty sit-ups, I asked my son to help me with push ups.  My form of push up is to wiggle my elbows and grunt a lot.  Somehow, in there, my body goes down a little bit.  And I tremble with my lack of strength.

And then I push with my mighty weakness and my cumbersome body lifts, slowly…painfully.

And I repeated that process “ten” times.  I think that if I took all ten attempts and put them together, I might have achieved one push up.

But it was a lovely one push up.

So, yeah.  Square one and a half.

.75 miles ran today with the Girl.

20 sit ups with the Boy.

10 crappy push ups becoming one “decent” push up with the Boy.

And he sat at the edge of my feet and cheered me on.  My daughter stood in my door and told me that I had done a good job.

While my pulse throbbed just beneath my skin, my children surrounded me and told me I had done well.

And they meant it.  They could have laughed at me (I would have laughed with them) and my measly attempts at exercise.  But, instead, they chose to tell me something positive.  Support me in my attempts to better myself.

Today, I was teaching my AP Lit class about 9/11.  They took a quiz about important people and their links to preventable issues.  And as my students’ faces grew more and more saddened by story after story, I decided to end the day on something more positive.

So I showed them pictures of Americans at their best.  And as I flipped pages of the books I was using, I found pictures of the Flight 93 heroes.  And I stopped and looked around my room, looked at my students looking at me.

And I told them about how they were the best the world could possibly hope for.  That they were America’s, the world’s greatest good for the future.  I told them that I have seen how teenagers can be told that they are no damn good.  And then these no damn good teenagers will turn around and raise over $10,000 for the American Red Cross right after 9/11.

And then they’ll do it all over again right after Hurricane Katrina.

We like to smear mistakes into people’s faces, hang their sins over the heads like little scarlet letters.

But, today, I chose to tell my students about how great they are and how great they will be.  How I have seen their goodness and their greatness and not to let themselves be defeated by the world.

Maybe I should have reminded them that they shouldn’t be defeated by themselves also.

Maybe, I should have told myself that, too….

 

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