Bravery, Honesty, And Progress…

  
 

A tease for this Weekend’s column on Bravery.  More on Friday…

Bravery can give us the strength of 10 Grinches, plus 2...

I will be on vacation, yet again, this week.  I will put up one (WIP) column this Friday  and probably not post again until mid-July. 

I want to thank the three people who have (unwittingly) inspired me to get more from myself these days, Dr. J, Bobbie, and Jody – your intentions, my friends, that you have thrown into the universe, have landed on me — and I am grateful.  Thank you for helping me realize that autopilot is a great feature, but does not land the plane.

Oh, and there is this from Social D…

Lust For Cheez-Its…

There’s no such thing as a single handful of Cheez-Its – or even enough Cheez-Its. I really like them — Cheez-Its; like opium, orgasm and a good nap rolled into one. My Cheez-Its come in a large red box with two defining burnt orange stripes across the front.

This cracker's cracker...

They are lightly salted snack crackers, square in shape and bursting with a synthetic, yet robust cheddar flavor. They are addictive.  Hell, Cheez-Its put the crack in the word cracker. To think about it, Cheez-Its ought to be shaped like little rock crystals and packaged in a glass pipe with a mouth-stem — and two defining burnt orange stripes across the front.

Who put the word "crack" in cracker...? Cheez-It did...

As my major weakness, Cheez-Its strike hardest when I am least expecting them to — when I am hiding behind my own complacency. I open my pantry in search of a quick fix for a momentary hunger. A Choc-O-Dile is too much, too fattening. Dried banana chips are too… too… well, just not enough. Saltines? Too dry! Rice cakes? Maybe, but only when the scientists who built the Mars rover get around to improving the flavor and consistency of rice cakes — not until!!! Cheez-Its? Yes, just a handful will do me fine.

I grab the unopened box and cautiously use a fingernail to break the glue seal bonding cardboard against cardboard at the top of the box. The bounty is revealed, and I partially extract the wax paper bag from within. Keenly aware of my dietary concerns, my fingers draw but a half-dozen or so crackers and I raise them to my anxious mouth.

My first taste of Cheez-Its on an empty stomach is both a rush, and a relief. Initial contact with the tongue provokes an increased heart rate. My vision blurs — but just a bit. An involuntary moan is inaudible to those about me. A shutter spreads up my spine and across my shoulders. My eyes roll back in my head and I briefly see God — frick, I love these things.

A little water will help pass the first bite along to the stomach, making room for the more important second bite which, I now rationalize, is perfectly okay since I exercise so much.  In my mouth, the taste fosters the craving, and the craving now grows like a Wyoming brush fire spreading in the wind. Cheez-Its break down instantly in the mouth and can be kneaded like dough by the tongue and teeth – something to eat and something to do.

The second handful awakens me. The artificially enhanced “Cheez” flavor stimulates all of my senses. The salt heightens my desire for more. My craving quickly merges into an unnatural passion. A third handful evokes a slight feeling of gluttony. After all, it’s just been a few hands full, right? The fourth handful is usually the largest and most satisfying — 12 pieces or so, some falling to the floor as they rub the folds on their way out from the wax bag. My gluttony begins t conquer me, and the craving has grown stronger still. The mild moan evolves into a heartier twitch.

Finally, a food pyramid I can wrap my mind around -- as well as my mouth...

The fifth, sixth, and seventh hands full are doing sinister justice to my psyche. The wax paper bag is now noticeably depleted and a mild depression sets in as a film of guilt shrink-wraps itself around my brain. However, like a mental game of rock, paper, scissors, the profound satisfaction of flavor beats guilt every time… and I continue on.

Whatever I was doing, wherever I was going upon opening this box of Cheez-Its is less a priority with each doughy bite. I am now seated, probably watching TV or even in bed — I am cozy. A bottle of water has found its way into my non-feeding hand, the red box with the orange stripes is held firmly between my legs with the top propped open for an easy reach-in. A commitment has been made between me and this box, stronger than any human relationship I have ever had. The box is a both alter and sanctuary – the contents, fuel and stimulant. I nurse the box with an increased caution as empty space grows and substance decreases.

Across the room my dog’s quizzical eyes are fixed on me as my legs hold to the box more firmly, and my pet becomes more suspect than companion. Like a one night stand in a Paris hotel, I continue through my evening savoring each moment as if it were my last on Earth.

I recognize that in parting, though completely satisfied, I will be left in the wake of pain and solitude. A few crumbs and some orange powder are now all that is left at the bottom of the red box with the burnt orange stripes. I draw the wax paper bag from within the box one final time, tilt it up and pour the crumbly remains into my mouth, allowing the dominant salt taste to sanctify my final swallow.

The sight of the empty bag at arm’s length sounds a gong in my mind, breaking me from the trance which has consumed me for the past 20  minutes. Fantasy gives way to reality; I just consumed 1780 calories, 212 grams of carbohydrate and 84 grams of fat. Not to mention the clinical abrasions which have forged a living scar across the roof of my mouth.  Guilt?  Maybe.  Frustration?  Could be.  Satisfaction?  Guaranteed!!!

Cheize the moment...

 We are one, my Cheez-Its and I.   A moment has been seized.  Be well.  rc

It Ain’t Easy Being Lean…

Somewhere Under The Rainbow

The Rainbow Music Hall, Denver, Colorado; from the late 1970’s through the late 1980’s, The Rainbow Music Hall was Denver’s premier concert venue.  There were 1,400 seats, not a bad one in the house, and the acoustics were rich.

Concert promoter, Barry Fey, ensured that week after week, The Rainbow Music Hall was host to world class acts such as Bob Dylan, Jefferson Starship, U2, The Pretenders, BB King, and many others.  I witnessed many of those shows because I was one of the puffy-armed dolts lucky enough to score a job working as part of the back stage security crew.

Some employee once wrote, "Free Drugs Tonight" on this marque -- it was a sold out show. True...

It Ain’t Easy Making Green

It wasn’t always about music.  Comedy acts and theatrical performances occasionally appeared on stage of the Rainbow, Jim Henson’s Muppets included.  In the early 80’s, The Muppets weekly TV series was a widely accepted alternative to Sunday evening’s 60 Minutes.  Hosts like John Denver, Elton John, and Lilly Tomlin, in combination with America’s favorite Frog and Pig, assured The Muppets a large weekly audience; adults and children alike.

With that kind of success, it would not take long for The Muppets to hit the road and spread the word, one city at a time, that it ain’t easy being green. 

The only competition Mike Wallace and Morley Safer ever had...

The Dolt And The Genius

Jim Henson’s creative genius was unique and obvious.  He also understood that to live is to work, and to work well is to master the art of enjoying work.

Pure genius, all work, and a true gentleman...

There I stood, in my tight t-shirt with my bad ass man-boy face set to stun, ensuring no intruders violated the set-up space that the Muppeteers required for their evening act.  I was a bit annoyed at it all.  It’s one thing to stand, look impressive, and do absolutely nothing when Chrissie Hynde or Stanley Clarke was setting up beside me.  It seemed less glamorous though, when it was the Muppet guy.  I repeatedly sighed from deep within my contempt. 

Jim Henson, overseeing the setup, was keen to my wordless griping.  He stopped his work, stepped toward me, and asked,

“What would you rather be doing right now?”

A bit surprised, I received his point and did not want to offend him.  I responded,

“Nothing really, I’m just tired.” 

I could feel a lesson coming on.  Mr. Henson continued,

“You will be working your entire life.  If you’re not working it will be for one of two reasons; that you are homeless as the result of your choice not to work, or that you are wealthy as the result of working very hard.  Aside from those two paths, you will be working.  Even if you can’t embrace the work that you do, never quit looking for reasons to like it – you just might find some.”

I had no response whatsoever.  Just the glazed eyes of a slacker-bouncer, contemplating the wisdom of a success, and wishing I was anywhere else.

Henson added one more thought – and this was the one that mattered,

“Work is one of the good things in life” he said, “it’s what we are here for – it’s all we are here for. If you don’t like the work that you do, either learn to like it, or take what you do like and make that your work.”

Those words changed my life forever because, with those words, I began to appreciate those special moments within work, that make one return to work – though it would take another 20 years for that ideal to fully sink in. 

A Many Forked Road

Fitness training hasn’t always been there for me, and when it has been there, it hasn’t always been lucrative.

In my post-Henson lifetime I have been a gas pump jockey, United States Coast Guardsman, a shoe salesmen, sandwich maker, waiter, dishwasher, scheduling analyst for a major airline, airport security screener, athletic trainer, fitness trainer, liquor store clerk, jewelry salesman, call center supervisor, hotel general manager, computer salesman, writer, convenience store clerk, delivery driver… and a bouncer at a place called The Rainbow Music Hall. 

I have found smiles in every job I have ever had -- even the crappy ones. But you won't find them if you're not looking...

Despite Mr. Henson’s advice, I had a hard time embracing many of those jobs.  Because of his words though, I never quit looking for the good in those jobs. Though I may not have always found those jobs to be glamorous, I often found the smiles buried within them, which subsequently gave me reason to return each day.

The Fitness Hook

In fitness, unless you are one of the blessed ones, you will likely be working at fitness for the rest of your life.  Though you may not always embrace the work in exercise, as I failed to embrace the work involved in my long list of jobs, I suggest you seek to find the smiles buried within the exercise – they are always there. 

Perhaps by regularly challenging yourself to find a nugget of good buried within the hard work within your workouts, you will find reason to keep coming back for more, and thus find results rather than finding reasons to avoid exercise. 

There is so much good in what this represents...

“It ain’t easy being green” said Kermit, and it ain’t easy trying to be lean says I, but there is joy in the work, though you will only find it if you are looking for it.  Be well.  rc

And to Jeffrey, my oldest and dearest friend, thank you for getting me a job at The Rainbow!  Amazing nights — and Tacorittos 🙂

The Rainbow Music Hall, Jim Henson, And Thoughts On Hard Work…

“Work is one of the good things in life — it is what we are here for – it’s all we are here for.  You will be working your entire life young man. 

If you’re not working it will be for one of two reasons; that you are homeless as the result of your choice not to work, or that you are wealthy as the result of working very hard.  Aside from those two paths, you will be working.  Even if you can’t embrace the work that you do, never quit looking for reasons to like it – you just might find some”  Jim Henson

The words above were spoken to me by Muppeteer, Jim Henson, as he set up for a show at The Rainbow Music Hall in Denver, Colorado — where I was employed as a “bouncer”.  Those words truly changed my life.  Thoughts on why this weekend…

I received a great education,, while somewhere under The Rainbow...

Chute To Maime, Not To Kill…

Several weeks ago, Karen at Fitness Journey asked me, and several others, to participate in a post she wrote about fitness through different stages of life.  That post, lead to this one.  Thank you Karen, for fueling the fire this week!

___________________________________________________________________________________

Seventeen years ago next week, I experienced two words that would change my life forever; parachute malfunction.

Daily Action; The Methadone For My Existence

Honestly, and with respect to my daughter and my fiancé, when I wake up each morning, they are not my first thought, though they are among my immediate thoughts.  That first though, what I do think in that first moment of consciousness each day is this,

 “What will it be today?” 

As in, what will be my daily action.  Daily action is something I have been practicing since I was 12 years old. 

When I wake I wonder to myself,

“Will it be a run, a hill climb, a paddle of the kayak, strength training, a bike ride with lots of hills, or a session of interval sprints…? ”

Or if it’s a really good day, which combination might it be…?

My second thought is this,

 “How soon can it happen?” 

And it always happens, I just see to it.  It has been this way since my mother escorted me to a local police station when I was 12 years old to sign me up for weight lifting lessons.  The local police volunteered their time to teach kids something positive.  I was immediately hooked.  This stoke expanded a couple years later with Bruce Jenner’s 1976 Olympic success, which spurned me to build a crude decathlon course in my back yard – broom stick pole-vault included.

Daily action is when time stands still for me – when I most believe in God, am most accepting of mankind, and when I  process the complexities of life with my most clear head.  Daily action has been my therapy, my prayer, and my conduit to humanity for 36 years.

Parachute Malfunction Remix

What it should look like...

Ouch.   It wasn’t so much the physical injuries and trauma that changed my life, although there were those.  My skydiving accident most affected my life by fostering a greater appreciation for life itself – daily action included.  

What it probably looked like...

In the weeks after my accident, I began writing what I thought would be a book about the whole ordeal; a humorous treatise on the story behind the accident, and the subsequent recovery process.  I put the book on ice because really,  it sucks.

But on this anniversary of my rapid descent from 3200 feet, I want to share a passage from said sucky book on ice; my first thoughts after I hit the ground and regained consciousness.  I hope you enjoy it. 

_____________________________________________________________________________

From Chapter 7 Of, Gravity Works

 by Roy Cohen

TO THE VICTOR GOES THE SOILS

(A FAREWELL TO LEGS)

I hit the ground like a just-clobbered Floyd Paterson and rebounded with the approximate coherency of Floyd the barber.  I had two distinct thoughts during my first conscious moment on the ground after my hard landing.  I began picking pieces of the damp soil from between my teeth and my mind focused on an evening news segment I had seen a couple days prior.  It was footage of professional football player, Dennis Byrd, walking with his wife along the rim of their country home outside of Tulsa. 

Byrd, one participant in a brutal collision on the playing field months earlier, amazed the nation after many doctors suggested he would never walk again following that injury.  

“All may not be lost”, I thought to myself as I lay in the dirt, 

“Dennis Byrd suffered a substantial spinal injury and he’s able to walk again.”  

I vowed right then not to let whatever injuries I might have just incurred alter my life.

Simultaneously another thought occurred as I lay face down in the rural field.  It was a thought I had to seriously entertain under the circumstances; I might actually be dead.  I contemplated for a moment that I might not have survived the impact of such a rapid fall.  I began to look for signs of the afterlife which I had heard described so many times on television; the bright light at the end of the tunnel, the faint figure in a flowing garment ready to lead me off, etc. 

Contemplating an ethereal transition, I gazed up and around the field where I had landed hoping to catch a glimpse of St. Peter, or someone like him.  Surely someone would be there to take my bags and show me to my suite. 

However, the first face I saw was that of a cow.  He was mostly white, with a few black spots.  A slow moving pink tongue circled his face like the hands of a caricature watch.  He seemed – intelligent.  This haunted me – an intelligent cow. 

I thought to myself,

“Shit, if I am dead, is this God?  Is God a cow?  Shit.  I can’t believe it – God is a freakin’ Holstein – frick!” 

I began regretting all the cattle tipping I did in college.  If God were really a cow, surely he would not overlook those indiscretions.

 
 

A welcome back to Earth committee -- of one...

Things came into focus…

“No” I thought, “there are no cows in heaven.  Cows are in…. in…. in…. Nebraska – yes, in Nebraska. I’m in Nebraska, and I’m still alive!”

Seeing the cow, and picking grains of soil from my mouth confirmed I was still alive and in Nebraska – but there was still the Dennis Byrd issue.  I slowly began to move my feet and bend my knees – they responded, and I was ecstatic.  No wheel chair in my future.  Only then did I attempt to work through the dull pain in my low-back and straighten out my torso… 

 
 

The MRI would reveal that my L1 vertebrae, had released itself on its own recognizance from the rest of my spine...

To be continued in a later post – perhaps… 

Seventeen years ago next week, I experienced two words that would change my life forever; parachute malfunction.  I celebrate this anniversary every year by enjoying my daily action – all day long!  Happy anniversary to me on my 17th I Ain’t Dead Yet day!

Be well.  rc

_______________________________________________________________________________________

I will be on vacation and away from writing for a couple of weeks — going to the wilds of North Central Nebraska to enjoy good times with friends, and with dictator, Kim Jong Il.  After which, we will kill him and carry his dead body back home in our roof-top carrier. 

Here we are chilin', with Kim Jong Il'n......

Please check in though, as I will be re-posting a couple of gems from the past until I return.