On Normalcy, Bravery, Divorce, And Contrast…

On Being A Frontiersman

I have often dreamed of being brave – of leaving the comfort of what I trust and what I know, to explore new frontiers.  I have never been so brave though, as to actually leap into a new frontier.  People like me may dream of such, but in this era, we are more comfortable than ever, and less likely to explore in ways which require true bravery – people like me are married to social trends.  I tend to do my exploring by way of technology, and vicariously through the bravery of others.

One area I have contemplated exploring in these modern times is to explore why I am so compelled to fit into the main stream, yet have such a strong desire to swim against that same current.  This is simply the exploration of my beliefs, values, and related choices as I strive to live a unique life within the rapid current of humanity.  A more in-depth exploration of the same, might have an effect on my many business, social, and personal relationships.  I don’t mind the idea of experimenting on myself, but I don’t wish anyone else to be effected by my lust for contrast. 

On Divorce

I know some who have divorced, struggled, and had great regret.  I know others who have divorced, felt relief, and grown wings.  Sometimes divorce is correct – it’s the right thing to do.  Other times, divorce might be an unnecessary step; too far over a ledge which does not need to be crossed.  The necessity of my own divorce remains fuzzy, and the contemplation of it remains my favorite reason to drink.

Some divorces though, are simply exquisite. These are divorces which I have truly admired and longed for.  I am aware of several divorces which have heavily influenced my day-to-day thinking, as well as my overall world-view. 

Frontier Divorces: My Heroes Have Always Been Renegades

These men; Diogenes, Dorian Paskowitz, Christopher McCandless, and Larry Walters have all divorced themselves from something far more complex, and with a much greater gravity than that of a spouse.  These innovative men, bravely and uniquely divorced themselves from the mainstream – from normal

If you are unfamiliar with who these men are, or how they divorced themselves from normal, you can click on the subsequent hyperlinks and read for yourself.  I will, however, give you a tease:

Diogenes: Divorced himself from the shelter of dishonesty, from the ideas of others, from following, and from having

Dorian Paskowitz: Divorced himself from the system, and from having

Christopher McCandless: Divorced himself from expectations, and from having

Larry Walters: Divorced himself from the planet, and from having – if only for a short while

A Few Frontiers Still Remain: My Next Ex

I want a divorce – or at least a trail separation…

I remember being 9 or 10 years old, looking around my family’s middle class home and all that went with it.  Even then I could not help but wonder why people felt the need for so much – such big houses with so many untouched things, when a simple camper or tent could suffice.  Western society’s lust for more has never made sense to me.  Still, I grew up, bought houses, and furnished them with all kinds of things because that’s what we do – at an early age, we get married to the concept of more.

Similarly, I have recently begun to wonder why people need all of this technology which surrounds us; electronics, the internet, information media, social networking, etc.  Still, I use Facebook, text, connect to NPR each morning, and I take dozens of pictures each month which will never see a darkroom.  I have not used a pen and paper to write more than 10 consecutive words in over a decade – I just push a lot of buttons when I wish to say something.  And such is the state of my marriage – my marriage to silicon, fast information, and easy entertainment.

Like the men listed above, I want a divorce from normal, or what is rapidly becoming normal.  I want to explore life without electronic devices and information; that I might live more happily, exploring this inner-frontier – at least for a while.

Trial Separation

From April 20 through May 20, I will not watch television.  I will read books rather than listen to them on my i-Pod.  I will write exclusively with a pen and paper.  I will not blog, Facebook, text or email.  I will invoice my clients by hand.  I will maintain my phone, but only for the sake and the security of my daughter, my business, and my friendships. 

Back Into The Current Of Information, Media, And Entertainment

Dorian Paskowitz has since remarried the mainstream – including a car, TV, and Facebook.  Christopher McCandless was killed during his divorce, but wrote that he had a “happy life” during his final days.  It is highly speculated he was headed back into the mainstream – at least for a while.  Diogenes may have been seduced back into normal, and a good bit of having in his later years, but there are conflicting accounts of this.  Larry Walters would commit suicide – the planet he temporarily divorced himself from was not much different on his return. 

I have no aspiration that this will be a life-long change for me.  If history and patterns are any indication, this divorce of mine might last for a while, but I will ultimately return to silicon and electronic information to fulfill my marital needs, if not my emotional ones.  I do this more as a test of my bravery, and to have a first-hand look at the inner frontier of living in a technical world, without depending on technology to amuse and inform myself.  Be well.  rc

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I will not be blogging, emailing, Facebooking, or the like, between April 20th and May 20th.  Between now and then I will be an internet whore.  After my absence, I might post a column about my experience, and share with you my conclusions and ideas on the future of my marriage to technology. Or perhaps, I will just write a fitness article on the value chicken salads and lunges. 

Oh, and there is this from Paul Westerberg.  One of my favorite songs ever.  Enjoy…

A New Frotnier…

A tease for my upcoming column on my life at the intersection of Divorce, Frontier, and Normal.  I warn you in advance, I have once again been experimenting with intelligence.  No worries, no worries, my intelligence, not yours.

Please check back next week for my column, Leaping With An Anchor.  In the mean time, here is an excerpt:

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A Few Frontiers Still Remain: My Next Ex

I want a divorce – or at least a trail separation…

I remember being 9 or 10 years old, looking around my family’s middle class home and all that went with it.  Even then I could not help but wonder why people felt the need for so much – such big houses with so many untouched things, when a simple camper or tent could suffice.  Society’s lust for more has never made sense to me.  Still, I grew up, bought houses, and furnished them with all kinds of things because that’s what we do – at an early age, we get married to the concept of more.

Similarly, I have recently begun to wonder why people need all of this technology which surrounds us; electronics, the internet, information media, social networking, etc.  Still, I use Facebook, text, connect to NPR each morning to see who’s dead or who’s ahead in the polls, and I take hundreds of pictures each month which will never see a darkroom.  I have not used a pen and paper to write more than 10 consecutive words in over a decade – I just push a lot of buttons when I wish to say something.  And such is the state of my marriage – my marriage to silicon, fast information, and easy entertainment.

I want a divorce from normal, or what is rapidly becoming normal.  I want to explore life without electronic devices and information; that I might live more happily, exploring this inner-frontier – at least for a while.

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Please check back next week for the completed column.  Oh, and there is this from Lloyd Dobler, the patron saint of steering clear of normal.  Enjoy…

In Chaotic Times…

I first wrote this a couple of years back — on the heels of the Tsunami in Japan.  On the heels of the recent presidential election, this is a good reminder that in a chaotic world, rigorous exercise can be a welcome break — if only for a moment…

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A View To A Time

I long to be in a simpler state…

Taking inventory of the events of the day – of these days, is better disclosing to me all the chaos within; the chaos within me, within the world, within an idea, or and within an atom.  We are doomed, yet we may only be probable at a given moment.  Humanity itself is either my illusion, or is god’s own Ponzi scheme.

The events in Japan have been heart-wrenching to watch unfold – from my comfortable sofa, wine glass in hand.   Earthquake, tsunami, radiation, and logistical chaos add up quickly to become guilt for me not being there to receive god’s ass-whoopin’ myself.  Rarely do I get included in disasters, warfare, or turmoil anymore.  Put me in Coach Yahweh, put me in…

Like many of you, I want to give Japan a big hug, or to roll up my shirts sleeves and help them dig out, but $75 via PayPal will have to suffice.  I feel like a donation is not enough.  I feel helpless.  Still, the events in Japan won’t change the facts that my bills need to be paid, my dogs wake me up barking every morning at 3:00am, and I have accrued some unsightly fat on my belly and am concerned that people will judge me for its presence.   And at the end of the day, I ride my bike 18 miles, and on completion I run 3 more, that I can feel good for a moment.

Pundits Of Doom

After watching 10 minutes of Glenn Beck today I asked myself,

How can intelligent, educated, and successful human beings buy into this…?”

Still, day-in and day-out many intelligent, educated, and successful people from all parts of this nation grasp Mr. Beck’s values and ideas as though they were the seat cushion which doubles as a flotation device as the jetliner of America must prepare for a ‘water landing’.  Not to mention, the uneducated, less-than-intelligent, and more easily influenced passengers on this jet of whoa, who also cling to Mr. Beck’s wisdom.

A Christian friend once told me,

If you call yourself a Christian, you are either a missionary or a liar.” 

That ideal is just dangerous.  It’s dangerous to the billions of people who are not Christians, and more dangerous still, to the hundreds of millions who are Christians but who don’t subscribe to that ideal of  proselytization.  That statement is an emotional bayonet pointed in the back of a would-be religious prisoner of war.

This nation might fare better if we could return to the good old days of suggesting to each other, my god is better than your god, and so too is my candidate.  Each month though, we are falling deeper into the trap of, my god is the only god, and so too is my candidate.  This nonsense needs to stop – please…

And at the end of the day, I lift weights for an hour and stair-step for another 30 minutes, that I can feel good for a moment.

The Hurt Locker Guy

Jeremy lives across the street from me.  He is a bit younger than me, career military, the father of 4, and one of the most well adjusted men I have ever met.  Oh, and he’s a veteran Hurt Locker guy.  When he’s home, Jeremy is an active and engaging father, and has a calm and present disposition – almost Zen-like.  I know him scarcely, but know that he defuses bombs for a living, and has done four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last eight years.

When I spoke to him on Thanksgiving day, he told me that he would be leaving for deployment number five in several days.  He then chuckled and asked me if I needed any help with my yard.  When I saw his car pull into the garage a month later, I asked Jeremy’s 8-year old son, who was playing soldier in our cul-de-sac, why his dad was home from deployment early…

“Oh, he’s dying of cancer” the boy told me, “and the Marines gave him back to us.”   I was gulp-smacked into the next week, and had no idea how to respond.  I just closed my eyes and tried to transport myself to Mayberry.  When that didn’t work, I went for a hard trail run, that I might forget the plight of Jeremy and his family, and feel good for a moment.

Making Sense Of It All In Chaotic Times

My view to modernity has become surreal in recent months; I feel like a passenger in the front seat of a car which is driving a long distance in reverse.  I’m looking ahead, but ahead is moving further away from me.  It occurs to me; time may not be moving forward as most believe.  Rather, time might be moving backward, and humanity, I’ll suggest, might just be looking out the wrong window.  That’s my analogy and I’m sticking with it.  And at the end of the day, I will exercise with some degree of intensity, and feel good for a moment.

Oh, and if you’ve come to this fitness blog expecting tips on lunges, chicken salad recipes, or thoughts on how to lose weight, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.  To compensate, I will now share everything you need to know about the concept of fitness:  Put down the cookie, and lace up your shoes.  Be well.  rc

a footnote:  although jeremy, the marine i referenced in this essay, and i are no longer neighbors, i’m glad to say that i spoke with him last week and has been deemed cancer-free.

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head…

Oh, and there is this from Singer/Songwriter James McMurtry.  Enjoy…

The Chaos Within…

A tease for my upcoming column on the chaos within.  Please check back back next week for the completed column.  In a related story, please take time to read Burning Embers, by my friend Robert Sommers.   Below is an excerpt from next week’s column:

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“I long to be in a simpler state.  Taking inventory of the events of the day – of these days, is better disclosing to me the chaos deep within; the chaos within me, within the world, within an idea or and within an atom.  We are doomed, yet we may only be probable at a given moment.  Humanity itself is either my illusion, or is god’s own Ponzi scheme.    

The events in Japan have been heart-wrenching to watch unfold – from my comfortable sofa.   Like many of you, I want to give Japan a big hug, or to roll up my shirts sleeves and help them dig out, but $75 via PayPal will have to suffice.  Earthquake, tsunami, radiation, and chaos add up quickly to become guilt for me not being there to receive god’s ass-whoopin’ myself.  Rarely do I get included in disasters, warfare, or turmoil anymore.  Put me in Coach Yahweh, put me in…

I feel like a donation is not enough.  I feel helpless toward my human brothers and sisters in need.  Still, the events in Japan won’t change the facts that my bills need to be paid, my dogs wake me up barking every morning at 3:00am, and I find the hair on the backs of my ears rather unsightly, and am concerned that people will judge me for its presence.  And at the end of the day, I ride my bike 18 miles, and on completion I run 3 more – that I can feel good about myself.”

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Please check back next week for my completed column on The Chaos Within.  Oh, and there is this from Akira Kurosawa.  Thanks Ewa.  Enjoy…

Saving Private Cohen…

Frick; There Really Is An Out-There Out There

I recently relocated my little fitness studio (again) to a larger, more open, and brighter space than the warehouse location it previously occupied.  My little gym would look less like a dungeon.  My upscale clients, I reckon, deserve something a little more, upscale…? 

After my friend Glenn and I moved the equipment, the new place took shape quickly.  I spent a majority of that weekend getting everything set up, lined up, and put into the best possible place.  At the end of it all would come a treat for me; my first workout in my new gym. 

I just was about begin my first workout when I realized what made the new place so bright, so open, and so professional looking – we can refer to them as windows.  My two prior locations had few windows, and those windows were well covered.  Glass now; everywhere glass – masses of transparent enclosure.  The entire front of the new studio is a 30-foot wall of glass eight feet high – and located just off one of the busier streets in Fallbrook.  My community could now see me workout.  And then, depression set in…

Hide In Your Shell

For the past 8 years, alone with my thoughts and with little view to the outside world, I have been able to lift, reach, bend, stretch, peddle, stair-step, run, and sweat in absolute privacy.  Often I workout listening to classic works of literature, philosophy, or theology on my i-Pod, attempting to make double use of my workout time, that I sharpen my brain (a bit) as well as my body.

I have savored every moment of these workouts in solitude because I am neither a social nor a confident person – at least not when I exercise.  In fact, I’m quite shy about it and a bit anti-social.  As I made the transition from exercising in a public gym to working out in my own private gym, my workouts took on a whole me meaning.  The intensity increased, the results were better, and my workouts became more soulful and more fulfilling – they became religious.

I have enjoyed the act of exercise – the ritual of movement, since I was 13-years old.  Despite what I have accomplished with my physicality through the years, and the thousands of workouts which have enabled so much in my life, the gym has always been an intimidating place – a place where I have felt uncomfortable, felt scrutinized, and perpetually un-good in the eyes of others.  

The Gyms Of My Past

Between the acne covered, puffy bodybuilders wearing torn Tap Out tank-tops and wrap-around sunglasses indoors, and the 20-something tanning bed queens with the tramp-stamps which make them easier to ID to the previous, I have not felt too comfortable in gyms since the fitness explosion of the mid-80s, through the current day.  Add-in the scarcely exercising, excessively judgmental religious zealots whose voices seem to dominate the cardio theater in most gyms, as their actions don’t, and then sprinkle in a few of know-it-all gym members who believe they know more about exercise than anyone in the gym – including me, and the modern gym has offered me little in the ways of comfort or acceptance – despite that I am usually among the hardest working, more knowledgeable, and most in-shape persons in the gym. 

Or perhaps I have just alienated myself in the gym simply because my workout has always been a medium for getting better acquainted with myself; a vehicle for contemplation and personal improvement, not a forum to overwhelm or impose upon those around me.

Saving Private Cohen

Now in a more pedestrian location, people soon began to peak through the windows of my new studio and watch as I have worked out during my down time. Some would dare to come in and want to talk talk talk talk talk with me.  Kill me. 

Within a week I had most of the glass in my new studio blacked out.  Not tinted, but blacked out – to shoulder level.  This would allow some light in, but ensure privacy for my clients – especially for my favorite client, me.  Once again I am at home in my private sanctuary of sweat, and again able to better honor myself and my day in peace, and without subjection to pedestrians or curious intruders who wonder in from the parking lot to checkout my kinetic tomfoolery.

I recognize that most fitness enthusiasts do not have this luxury – a private gym in which to battle gravity and to release the toxins of life, as physical and mental acuity have a chance to blossom – if only for an hour.  I will suggest that if a private workout is something which sounds appealing, for the price of a year’s gym membership, one can buy enough adequate and compact equipment which can make a private a workout at home possible – regardless of how small your workout space at home might be.

Do I recognize and appreciate the social aspect of working out in a public gym…?  Maybe…  I just know that private workouts, for me, are now a requirement – daily.  Be well. rc

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The “Queen” of the fleet was quite a gal….

Finally, I would like to extend my respect and appreciation for all of those who have served on The United States Coast Guard Cutter Acushent, which will become decommissioned today after 67 years of service.   There is not a day of my life, not one, that I do think about my time spent on that ship. 

Oh, and there is this emotional masterpiece by Leonard Cohen.  Enjoy…

An Army Of One…

A mid-week tease for my upcoming column on working out alone; fear and the intimidation of the gym.

Please check back this weekend for the completed column.  In the mean time, here is an excerpt:

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Hide In Your Shell

For the past 8 years, alone with my thoughts and with little view to the outside world, I have been able to lift, reach, bend, stretch, peddle, stair-step, and sweat in absolute privacy.  I have savored every moment of this because I am not a confident person – at least not when I exercise.  In fact, I’m quite shy about it – fearful even. 

I have enjoyed the act of exercise – the ritual of my daily action since I was 13-years old.  Despite what I have accomplished with my physicality through the years, and the thousands of workouts which have enabled so much in my life, the gym has always been an intimidating place – a place where I have felt uncomfortable, felt heavily scrutinized, and perpetually un-good in the eyes of others.   I refer to this as in-gymidation.  Having the privilege for nearly a decade, to exercise in private has served me very well.

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Please check back this weekend for more.  Oh, and there is this from Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson, enjoy…