Friday, June 12, 2009


I took it easy this week, re cf. The fella I train with is out of town, and that's enough of an excuse. But he's invited virtually everyone to train with him, and there are a random and sporadic few who come by, on a not very predictable basis, so I came by a couple of times to put them through a workout. Here's why I mention it. I had to pull out one of my old personalities.

Generally nowadays I fade back into the shadows. I might kibitz, make my little jokes, add a bit of information, but I'm content to play second banana, which is a sort of starfish. It's not my place. I don't have a place. I'm not the host. They're not my guests. Not even my friends. Just people who are around. That's an odd thing that struck me today. We're civil, we're friendly, even, because it's the right thing to do. But to say nothing at all would be more desirable.

When I say "we", of course I mean myself. I don't suppose most people are like this. I wasn't always like this myself.

But I digress. Having to play host, I had to change personas. The guy in charge. Well I used to be that for a living. But I did it in my own place. I was always prepared. Even when I worked as a substitute teacher, I had my own lessons and supplies -- you could never count on anyone else. So I planned the workouts, and rigged the equipment, and put on the necessary personality, rusty though it is, and gave the ladies a pretty good workout.

But I noticed how reluctant I was to be in that role. There's a lot of information I could have given them. I'm an inspirational guy, you know, when I think it's appropriate. I was just reluctant to give up my anonymity. I'm out of practice being public.

Isn't it interesting, how people are? It occurs to me that I broke down some years ago. It seems there are degrees of giving up. I feel guilty about it, because I have gifts that are wasted, and that's shameful. But it is a choice. Addiction is a choice -- not all addiction is about substances or objective behaviors. I just don't know how to change the fact that I don't want to change.

I ran intervals tonight, 10 laps, quarter miles, at a 5-minute mile pace, with a half lap walk in between. On a treadmill at the Y. Someone I know there asked my why I was doing it. I said intervals are one of the most productive exercises, and it's important to do more than just one thing. But there's another kind of why. Why do it at all? There are several kinds of excellence that I care about. I care about physical excellence, and intellectual excellence, and an excellence of public conduct -- the things anyone is likely to find out about.

I don't know why I care about these things. The physical stuff isn't about appearance -- I don't wear tight cloths and so on. Having a celerity of intellect is just what I'm used to, but it doesn't do me any good at all in the world. Acting decently is just a matter of avoiding the consequences of a bad conscience. I guess it's pride. A gift, or several, that I have not scorned or wasted. And of course I need to exercise, need to learn, need to feel honorable. It balances out and holds off the chaos.

As I've said, I've started bjj again. New group of guys. Different ethos. Not anywhere near as much drilling, which I think is an error, and not quite the same emphasis on safety. A brown belt did a wrist lock on me. Didn't know that was legal. It is there, apparently. No worries, it's just different. Same guy who puts on the knee on belly move really hard. I don't mind. Eventually I'm going to take it as permission to go very hard with him. I need that. I just need to get the idea that he deserves it. This is a good thing. But a tiny little white belt was trying to open my guard by digging his elbows into me. It's something they teach. Pain technique. Bad idea. Very bad idea. It's never worked on me, and just makes me use strength. That's okay too -- I need to be comfortable with that. And I watched the muay thai class. Very interesting. That's about aggression too. And they do mma -- very interesting indeed. I think I'm going to buy the equipment. I'm not as fast as I used to be, but I still have a long reach.

You see? How we leave one life and enter another? One group of people passes out of your life, forever, and that void is filled by other people, or it remains empty, but, well, I hardly know what my point is. You know that what you have is going to end. Your children grow up. If your lucky, they do. Your circumstances change. Your illusions shatter. You become wise, or bitter, or something else. It's my major theme. How fragile life is. But maybe I'm wrong. God has fools, after all, so that not everyone needs to be his fool.

You know what all this is? It is a reflection on friendship. People are the only thing that matters. That's why betrayal hurts so much. In case you think I got it wrong, I'll just remind you, unnecessarily, that God is a person. So am I.


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