Passing Thoughts…

I’m taking my cycling more seriously these days.  I’ve been taking advantage of the long summer days and recommitting myself to improvements in conditioning and fortitude.  Due to my work schedule and my responsibilities around the house, I’ve been riding early in the day, often just before or at sunrise.  And no, this isn’t about how I pass all the other cyclists I see on the road each morning as I ramp up my training intensity.  Actually, it is about that, kind of.

I pass between 5-10 cyclists each morning as I sprint around the perimeter of Fallbrook.  I blow by them these days.  When I pass by these other early morning riders, I feel like I’m on EPO.  I spy one ahead of me, push a little harder with each stride, and within seconds I pass him as though he’s a mailbox.  It’s as though they aren’t even trying.  Well, that’s because they aren’t trying—not to beat me anyway.

You see, the cyclists I blow by each morning could give a frog’s fat ass about me passing them.  They have no idea what a PR is, how fast they are going, or if they’re going to beat their time from the day before.  The riders I pass each day are on their way to work, and if they’re on one, a bike is the only transportation they can afford – if they are so lucky to get one from a thrift shop or a garage sale.

These are the grove workers and day workers that help support my community.  From the agriculture here, to the aesthetics of homes and businesses, my community owes much of its riches and beauty to the men who ride rickety bikes through the hills each morning at sunrise.  In their denims, long-sleeve shirts, and work boots, and with backpacks weighting them down even more, they ride early because their workdays begin early.  They don’t pedal fast because they need their energy for the physically demanding work that awaits and occupies them until the day’s light fades.  And when it’s all done, they ride home again.  It’s not exercise for these men, it’s transportation.  They ride The Tour De Opportunity.

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In truth, I take no pride whatsoever in passing these men each morning.  In fact, I feel equal parts shame, guilt, and humility.  Shame, that I complain about so much in my life in comparison to theirs.  Guilt, that my life is so sweet, so free, so and easy in comparison to theirs.  Humility, that I am reminded by them all I am and all I have, as I glide by grateful for it all.

Each morning I ride my bike by choice, in pursuit of achievement, thrill, and satisfaction.  Almost immediately though, and throughout my ride, I am reminded just how little achievement, thrill, and satisfaction matter in the scope of putting food on the table.  I bow down to the men I pass each morning, who pedal the same roads I peddle.  They do so for more noble reasons, and with much more fortitude…  Jhciacb.

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Onion knife

The Aztec Is The Snowman…

A Father Of Good Intentions…

I often tell people I’m a Colorado native. In truth, I moved here at the age of 6. I was born in Massachusetts. As a child, my father spent his summers in Gloucester, MA playing at Cressy’s beach, eating fried clams from roadside stands, and absorbing the persuasive scent that is the sum of wooden pier pilings, fish scales, salt water, and sea breezes. In the early part of my childhood, my father ensured I got to spend time in Gloucester savoring those same experiences. My father raised me with a reverence for the sea, and all things lobster.

The sea; it's a different kind of romance...

The sea; it’s a different kind of romance…

In 1968, partly due to business, and partly due to a desire for an expanded outdoor life, my father moved our family from the east coast, to Colorado. From an early age he had me involved in outdoor activities; camping, scouting, and skiing. In truth, I never liked Colorado – or appreciated it. I saw the snow, the cold, or anything which might threaten my core temperature as a foreboding aggressor. I was a beach boy at heart.

Salt Water Exposure…

My father ensured that we did spend time at the ocean. On trips to Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington, I was transformed when I experienced the sea. It was a trip to San Diego though, when I was 11 that would change how I would see my life – for the rest of my life. It was during that trip I felt what I can only describe as a sense belonging for the first time in my life.

This is the first time I identified the difference between being on nature, and being in nature. Yes, I could stand on a mountain and ski down it. I could pitch a tent on a hillside and witness a simple view. However, to be inside the ocean meant I wasn’t on it, I was a part of it, and that changed me.

Mission Bay as seen from the Bahia resort.  My favorite little San Diego hotel...

Mission Bay as seen from the Bahia resort. My favorite little San Diego hotel…

On our return from San Diego I had a hard time sleeping at night. Something so wonderful, that had become a part of me in a short time, had been taken away too soon. I had become resentful to live in landlocked Colorado; a resentment which would fester for another 12 years.

I have a clear memory of awakening in the middle of the night once in middle school, having dreamt a glorious dream about playing in the ocean and the comfort that brought me, only to realize it was just a dream. I cried myself back to sleep, and woke the next morning in a state of sadness that would linger for weeks.

I spent time in the school library looking at books with pictures of surfing, sailboats, and oceanscapes. These brought me moments of wonder. Television and movies that took place at the ocean always took president with me. I watched Flipper, Gilligan’s Island, and even McHale’s Navy relentlessly in reruns, all the while planning my escape.

No Mountain Magic…

As clearly as I remember that ocean dream, I remember my mountain realities.  My father, with the best of intentions, had me on skies at an early age. Though I never resisted it, I have no memory whatsoever of a pleasurable day in the wind and snow, though they did account for many of my weekends. And then there was Boy Scouts.

I am grateful for the survival skills I learned in Troop 5 – the only area scout troop that regularly camped in winter. That I had to learn how to make snow caves in 60 mph winds, and wash up in 30 degree river water did not scar me, though it did form the me that I would not become as an adult.

Snow caves; I know how to.  I hate to...

Snow caves; I know how to. I hate to…

Rescued By The Coast Guard…

With life as a gym instructor doing little to offer security in my early adult life, and life in Colorado doing even less to support my inner waterman, I would eventually sign a piece of paper that would change that. On surrendering my soul to the US Coast Guard, I knew one thing was certain; that I would see the ocean every day of my life.

From Cape May to Key West, and a few spots in-between, the Coast Guard provided me the opportunity to plant my toes in the sand, find my ocean solace, and gave $400 per month for the privilege. Though Coast Guard life wasn’t always easy, I was able to find peace daily by looking at or riding on the sea.

It was being at sea most of all which consumed me. I always felt humbled and appreciative of my life when there was no land to be seen. I once remarked to a shipmate several hundred miles into the Gulf of Mexico, as rough seas and waves crashed around us,

“These noises are ancient. Among the first sounds ever made on the cooling Earth, was the sound of waves crashing into other waves.”

Life on the Cutter Acushnet could be hard at times, but it came with a great view...

Life on the Cutter Acushnet could be hard at times, but it came with a great view…

During my time in the Coast Guard I would marry a girl from Colorado and we would return there when my enlistment ended. We often joked that I was an Aztec, and she a snowman. One longed to worship the sun and the water, the other the mountains and the seasons.

While married, we bounced around the country on frequent whims, catering to one another’s geographic mood swings. We would live in coastal Mississippi, Colorado, Arizona, and California.

Home Again Home Again…

For 15 years after my divorce, I lived in San Diego – the land of that childhood vacation that drew out my appreciation for waves, and initiated my resentment toward mountains and winter. For 15 years I enjoyed surfing, hiking, cycling, kayaking, picking my own oranges, and patio lunches – year round.

Every person has their favorite place.  Mine is Sunset Cliffs, San Diego.

Every person has their favorite place. Mine is Sunset Cliffs, San Diego.

When I made the decision last May to leave San Diego and return to Colorado to be closer to my family, it was heartfelt. Leaving behind relationships, some quite dear, was hard. Willfully leaving behind the ocean was a self-administered kick to the gut.

I will always remember turning my back on the ocean for the last time as a San Diego resident. There would be no holding back of tears. I wept, openly.  During my first few weeks back in Colorado, I awakened at night several times, in the same way I had as a child dreaming of the ocean, and cried myself back to sleep.

Walking The Walk…

I would eventually settle in the mountains near where I skied, camped, and hated all things cold as a child. Something unexpected happened though, on my arrival. The mountains began to move me and humble me, and in ways they never did as I grew up here.

Three times daily I take slow walks with my dog, looking down upon the community, the reservoir, and the snowcapped peaks adjacent to the town of Nederland, Colorado. During these walks time has slowed down for me. The chaos that circulates in my head, previously held in check by the sight of pelicans riding air currents produced by ocean waves, has been soothed by the greatness of these mountains I resented as a child. Three times daily I am compelled stare in wonder as terra merges with troposphere.

Double you owe double you spells... ...Wow!

Double you owe double you spells…
…Wow!

Lessons Yet To Be Learned…

Do I love the ocean any less for my new found appreciation for these mountains…? Certainly not. I am still sad at times when I crave to paddle out, sit on a board, and dangle my feet in the kelp as I wait for the next wave. I have simply expanded my value set. As just one of the billions of bit custodians of this Earth, I am learning to appreciate her more – regardless of where I stand. Let go the now. Touch the next. Be well… rc

All things must pass.  It was a great run SD.  Thank you...

All things must pass. It was a great run SD. Thank you…

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Comments are closed this week. 

Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Adam Cohen, son of Leonard and no relation to me. Enjoy…

Hear Here: A Tale Of Jaw Cardio

Work-out Kryptonite…

For the better part of 20 years I have been able to work-out alone in my basement gyms, garage gym, or in the fitness studios I have owned. Occasionally I have had partners, but for the most part it has been me. Alone. Solo. Smile.

One of the better garages  have had...

Royland, 2003:  One of the better garages have had…

Through the years I have been able to avoid intermingling with lunks throwing weights, unnecessarily grunting, and messing up the place with traces of blood after prying their acne covered simian roid-backs off of the bench press.

I have also been able to avoid clueless cardio bunnies dressed like porn stars, with their ponytails fishing lures swinging back and forth as they stare aimlessly at CNN in front of them, all the while not really knowing where Libya is – and such.

"Like, I know how to make toast..." "Shut up!  I know how to make toast too...!"

Girl on right:  “Like, I know how to make toast…”
Girl on left:  “Shut up! I know how to make toast too…!”

And best of all, I have not had to navigate through the sea of old men in striped warmup suits taking up space as they read the Sunday Times in-between sets of the only exercise they know, triceps pushdown, as they loudly exchange ideas amongst and between them about how to save the world.

Yup, for 20 years I trained in my underwear if I wanted to, listened to audio books, lectures on physics or religion, and only occasionally loud music. My best training partner was the clock on the wall, there was no monthly auto-draft, and the gym was always open – to me.

I have though, maintained memberships pubic gyms – just in case. I have used them sparingly, only on those days when I needed to get out of my own studio for reasons of sanity, or to join my friend Marshal for our lunch time pre-burrito StepMill sessions.

When have ventured into public gyms, I have always aimed my head at the ground, kept earbuds plugged in, and I made eye contact with nobody. All of this to avoid the one person I knew could ruin my work-out, and subsequently my day; Jaw Cardio Guy. You know, that one guy who could carry on a 20 minute conversation about nothing, all by himself, and still hold me captive, all the while keeping me away from my precious deadlifts. I hate that guy.

A face I hope to never see again; Jaw Cardio Guy...

A face I hope to never see again; Jaw Cardio Guy…

On those occasions when Jaw Cardio Guy would be so insistent that we speak, that he could break me from my trance and get me to take out my earbuds just to appease him I would, in very clear terms, make him aware that my time is precious, my work-out is necessary, and his conversation was kryptonite. I’m just not nice in those scenarios.

He-man Of The People…

I’m now working out in a public gym regularly for the first time since 1995. This gym is also where I have the proprietary interest for my fitness training business. Since each person working out there is a potential student, being a dick is not an option. Each conversation I have may augment my livelihood. Notwithstanding, this is my community now and being philanthropic with my time and my expertise is the right way to be.

Still, there remains my desire to be deep in focus, lost in my meat during my sets since strength training is the methadone of my existence. Despite this, if I am going to be the man in this town, I must be a man of the people and find middle ground.

For about a month now I have been assimilating myself into the local gym. I have already met some nice people and a few of them have become students. I have also been dragged into conversations that two years ago I would want or have no part of. Now I see these conversations as human, and am learning how to appreciate them and engage in them without losing the rhythm of my work-out.

This I Have Already Learned…

To let go a bar after a completed set and take a few minutes to answer a gentleman’s question about which exercises might help offset his sciatica, is not the end of the world. He will probably never be a student, but I enjoy watching him fulfill my suggestions, and can see that it’s already helping him.

Telling someone, “no, I’m not using that bench – go ahead” while I’m mid-set of a fairly heavy squat did not cause me to drop the bar, stop the set, cause my legs to shrink, or cause me to get fat. It simply caused me to smile and take an extra breath.

Where I once wouldn't be caught dead talking in the gym, I'm now likely to be found dead-talking...

Where I once wouldn’t be caught dead talking in the gym, I’m now likely to be found dead-talking…

If a political discussion comes my way while I’m doing dumbbell flies it won’t deter from completing my set, any more than it will persuade me to change my world view mid-rep, though it might help me better read the pulse of my community. I will eternally though, label an asshole an asshole if he or she uses the term, “nigger president” as happened so frequently in my last community.

Mostly, I have learned that talking, being friendly – being outright social in the gym can be a very human experience, enrich my day, and will not cause me to lose my gains. Along with work, human relationships are what we are here for. How blessed am I that I get to combine both on a daily basis… Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Reunion.  Forty years later I still nailed it word for word.  Enjoy…

An Open Letter To Leaders In The Fitness Community….

Dear Fitness Leaders,

Congratulations, you are a leader in the fitness industry – I bow down.  Whether you lead by the dozen, or lead by the millions, the eyes of your followers are on you.  Please keep in mind though, that the eyes that follow those who follow you, are also on you.

Whether you are new to fitness as a career, or you are one of the many established “experts” in the field, please allow me to share my thoughts with you, on how to better conduct yourself in an industry that isn’t just evolving, but one that is erupting vomiting its way into chaotic advancement. 

Don’t forsake the trust that got you where you are…

Understand that when people choose to follow you, right off the bat, they have given you something sacred, and something that should be most coveted by you – they have given you their trust.  Nurturing that trust may be the key to both longevity, and respect in your fitness career.  I’ll suggest that your career will be only as fulfilling as your respect for that trust goes.

You can use the trust of those who follow you to advance your career.  Or, you can use the trust of others as an opportunity to grow with them, to learn more on their behalf, and to advance the causes of fitness as a whole.  I think this is a good way to be.

People have chosen you.  Regardless of their reasons for that choice, they have placed their trust in you.  They hear the words you speak, they read the words you write, and they retain the actions they witness from you.  If you’re going to lead, lead with honest words, honest actions, and humility.

If you refer to your followers as disciples, I’m asking you right now to wear a tin foil hat so I know who you are.

Shut The Fuck Up Settle down Francis…

Making noise and rattling cages to prove yourself right is only slightly less savory than making noise and rattling cages to prove others wrong.  You may be wise.  You may be educated.  You may be experienced.  You may be all of the above, or some combination, and you may even be right.  You don’t however, always have to establish yourself as right. 

It’s actually not too hard to be right, and to be quiet – simultaneously.  This skill will serve you well in your career.

Don’t just lead, support…

Don’t lose sight that among our primary roles in this industry is the role of being a support system for those who follow us. 

To properly lead, it’s not enough to just point and say, go!  It’s of greater importance to understand the horizon from the vantage point of those furthest back.  Remember to stand beside those who follow you at the most critical times, maintaining awareness and respect of the differences between their view of what’s ahead, and your own view.

Ideally, the best support system a student or follower will have will be their friends and family.  Too often though, this proves not to be the case.  Though it’s not possible to be emotionally available to all of your students, all of the time, I’ll suggest you strive to be as available as you can be when needed – and you will be needed.  This will go a long way in helping them fulfill their goals.

Lead by example…

As a leader in my own community, I strive to ensure that I lead by example.  Some days that example is better than others, but I live with the knowledge that the eyes of my community are continually on me.  Whether I am in a grocery store, a restaurant, an athletic field, or a bar, my community is watching.

Though I often joke that at the end of the day it’s all about Roy, at the end of the day I know this is not really true.   

At the beginning of the day, fitness leadership is about sharing.  At the end of the day, it’s all about reflecting, to better share the following day what I have learned today.  In-between the beginning and the end of the day, fitness leadership is about many things, but above all else, it’s setting good examples.

You’re not that grand, and neither is your idea of fitness…

It’ pretty easy to believe, and subsequently suggest that being “fit” is the right way to be and to live.  Fit, at best, as a vague term which can mean many things. 

Too often leaders in the fitness community strive to pass off their own fitness values as an improvement to someone else’s life.  I have been guilty of this myself.  Often times what we pass off as fitness can be detrimental to longevity and physicality.  This is something I continually struggle in coming to terms with. 

Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should do it – or that it’s going to help me live longer and better.  Notwithstanding, suggesting that others do it may be detrimental to their physicality, their longevity, and their health. 

Circles beyond our own…

There many people in the world who never formally exercise or eat “clean”.  There people who could care less about a lunge, a set of repetitions, a chicken salad, or a WOD.

Humility

There are many people who are content with who they are and have no desire to look like an action figure.  There are even people who are obese and okay with it, as there are people who are out of shape and okay with.  There are people who live to eat, and not eat to live as we always suggest.

That those people don’t play in our fitness circles makes them no less valid, no less worthy, and no less of a person.  I know of many great people doing amazing things in the world who eat Pop-Tarts, tater-tots, and other hyphenated non-foods.

I know of family leaders, business leaders, community leaders, and just plain salt of the earth folks who could give a frog’s fat ass about what we think is so important in the name of fitness.

I’ll finish by suggesting that each of you step back, take a good distant look at you consider fitness to mean.  Then, take a good distant look at the rest of the world and consider, for just a moment, what they might believe fitness to mean.

From this perspective, to truly quantify and establish how exercise may benefit someone’s life – how it may benefit society as a whole, is much harder than science has lead us to believe.  In fact, it’s not possible.  And you, you little fitness expert, are no more of a spec on the ass of humanity than I am, and please never forget that.

Go now.  Mount your high horse and charge on!

Sincerely,
Aggressively Humble Guy

PS: If you are a political, business, or spiritual leader, same shit goes for you.  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what  happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head. 

Caught between Emerson, And George…

The crossroads in my head…

On a personal level, I am compelled by the fulfillment of challenging exercise.  The drug of intensity in movement clears my head, offers me confidence, and provides moments to me during which the stress of daily living vanishes, if only for a while.

Whether my requirement for challenging exercise is an addiction, a compulsion, or a mere personality defect, I may never be sure.  What I have come to accept is that, for now, exercise for the sake of fulfillment is a necessary component of the clock that is me.

Earning my keep…

On a professional level, I am more cautious about the ideal of intensity in exercise.  This caution though, is relative to the moment, and to the client.  Some moments in my studio are all about fulfillment in exercise.  I am paid well by some clients to establish the limits of their physicality, and incrementally raise those limits, rendering them more capable at given tasks, aesthetically improved, or both.

With other clients it’s about utility.  They entrust me to help increase their physicality by offering functional exercise into their lives.  This may be due to age, disease, or simply because they have lived a deconditioned lifestyle previously.   Regardless, for these clients mindfulness comes first, and intensity isn’t even a consideration.

On George…

George stepped into my studio for the first time seven years ago.  He was 67 years old, and a few years into retirement. He wanted to begin a fitness regimen to augment his twice per week golf schedule.

George also wanted to lose a few pounds around his waist, and improve his overall “shape”. If functional strength training might help his golf game, peripheral weight loss would be a cherry on top.

George was focused with his workouts, and made progress quickly.  His balance improved.  His flexibility improved.  His endurance improved.  His strength improved – to a point where he could leg press several hundred pounds, in proper form, and through a complete range of motion, and do so safely. Even his golf even improved.

George is 73 now. Four years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. An engineer by trade, George accepted that affliction with no resistance. He approached it with a resolve to wake up each day and address Parkinson’s in the best way he could – stoically, and with a pragmatic faith in Western medicine.

Minolta DSC
In the four years since his diagnosis, George’s physicality has suffered.  This is partially due to the disease itself, and partially due to the medications he uses to offset Parkinson’s.  However, his attitude and acceptance of the cards life has dealt him have been exceptional.  We should all be so graceful under the same circumstances.

Yesterday as he entered my studio I asked him how his golf outing went the day prior.  This was his response:

“It was great!”

He continued,

“I didn’t play too well, but the turkey sandwich was excellent, and my friends and I laughed a lot.”

I was as humbled by his attitude, as I was by the sincere smile on his face as he spoke.

George no longer leg presses several hundred pounds.  Most of George’s workouts take place with a broom stick for resistance, and some 3 pound weights in his weathered hands.  He accomplishes less than half the sets and repetitions in a given workout than he did prior to the onset of Parkinson’s.

He rests more during the session, struggles to drink his water without spilling some, and he and I have become more social.  His efforts though, have been just as focused as ever.

There is no way to quantify how George’s functional strength workouts have helped offset his fight with Parkinson’s, or whether they have made a difference at all.

At a time when I struggle walking the line between the utility of functional exercise, and the fulfillment of more intense exercise, George’s presence in my life is a grounding factor.

George pays me well for his two hours in my studio each week. As time goes on, and I ruminate over all I am learning from George – about how to address aging, disease, and the perspective he applies to both, I wonder more and more, who should be paying who.

Caught between utility and fulfillment…

Of my many daily rationalizations, chief among them is that my personally fulfilling, intensity-driven workouts offer my life a great deal of utility.

There may be some utility in me in racing up a 1,200 foot hill as fast as I can.  Running back down that same hill fast, I can assure you, is not in the best interest of my long-term physicality.  Nor do I believe that my quest for a bodybuilding title in September is in my body’s best long-term interest.

Probably not what I will be doing at 74 years old...

Probably not what I will be doing at 74 years old…

These ideals which underlie my exercise though, are who I am today.

Who I will be tomorrow…

I may never have the privilege of being 74 years old.  If I am so fortunate to get there, I have no illusion that I will look or function then as I do today.  I also require myself to accept that what I do today – how I exercise, and how often, may actually have a negative impact on the physicality of me at 74.  I don’t know.

There is a fine line between pursuing what we want, and what makes sense.  When I have difficulty distinguishing that line, or when I see it clearly but can’t decide which side I should stand on, I draw from the only scripture which has mattered to me in my adult life:

“Speak today in hard words what you believe, and speak tomorrow in hard words what you believe though it may contradict what you say today.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Speak today in hard words what you believe, and speak tomorrow in hard words what you believe though it may contradict what you say today.”

“Speak today in hard words what you believe, and speak tomorrow in hard words what you believe though it may contradict what you say today.”

More and more these days, I find myself caught between Emerson, and George — between the lessons of two great men who have both inspired me.  Be well.  rc…

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender inside my head.  Oh, and there is this from the best rock and roll band you have never heard of, The Hellacopters.  Enjoy…

A Boy And His Wings…

Cheese and Whine

Life is tough, situations are hard, relationships frustrate, work sucks, and we’re not getting nearly as deep into life’s rich bounty as we feel we deserve.  Oh, and I didn’t forget that strangers usually don’t treat us well, the government is ruining our lives, and we’re all aging and aching more with each passing day – despite our efforts to look and feel like we’re 25 years old.  Poor, poor pitiful us.  Well little wretch of a more deserving hominid, it could be worse, or better perceived…

Jian Be Nimble

Jian is one of three children my brother and his wife have adopted from China.  Jian is 9 years old and looks vaguely Asian.  With round eyes, caramel skin, and a forehead trimmed by some bang-like fringe, Jian appears to be a boy on the prowl for mischief – but he is not.  Jian is shy, speaks softly, is sweeter than candy corn, and performs most of the tasks that you and I take for granted with his feet.  Jian was born without arms.  Just writing that sentence humbled me back into last week.

I went to lunch with Jian and his sisters last month during my summer visit to my brother’s home in the mountains of Colorado.  On being seated by the hostess, we requested a booster seat for Jian.  At an age when booster seats are no longer needed, the hostess looked confused.  The booster seat, turned upside down and placed on his chair, is so Jian can have a high, flat surface to sit on since he eats with his feet.  The booster seat is more like a throne than a tool for Jian – from that height it often feels like Jian is holding court for those around and beneath him. 

At a familiar restaurant, and seated with his mother, two sisters and I, Jian didn’t need to look at the menu because he already knew what he wanted for lunch – hot wings.  Yes, finger-foods, for a boy with no fingers, let alone no arms.  Now one might think some outside help might be needed – that his lunch of choice might be prepared for a better assault by him with help from his family.  Nope.  No help was required from his sisters nor me – not even for hot wings.  And he tore through them too, reminiscent of Fred Flintstone making short work of a rack of bronto-ribs. 

But what grasped me most as I watched Jian devour his lunch was the pile of white chicken bones he left on his plate – he cleaned every gram of meat and sauce off of them.  Straight up, I was in awe of his mad toe skills.  And then, I quietly cried to myself.  What right do I have, I wondered, to have a bad day, or a bad lunch for that matter…? Using my knife and fork, I continued to put away my steak salad, but suddenly felt quite pampered to do so.

Dancing With Them Who Brung Ya

Jian writes, draws, and colors with his feet.  He counts his money with his feet.  He pets his dogs and cats with his feet.  He flushes the toilet with his feet.  He holds and drinks cups of juice with his feet.  He even hits his sisters with his feet, but I guess technically we should still refer to that as kicking.  Jian does just about everything with his feet, and that which he can’t do with his feet, he can usually accomplish with the combination of his chin and his shoulder – together they pair up like a grappling hook of extraordinary dexterity to move, maneuver, or carry whatever he needs to, and he does so fluidly.

I pity the fool who tries to take the remote from Jian. Pity him....

So here’s the deal, you may think this is a story about Jian – a boy with no arms, and his lack of concern for something he never had.  It’s not.  It’s a story about me and you – our whining, complaining, and bitching our way through life, for all we think we don’t have, for all of our problems, and all we think we can’t accomplish due to our perceived limitations.  

This may be a bit lofty, but more recently in those times when I think my life most sucks and I exist in a sea of limitations, I try to think of Jian whom I have never heard complain – not once, about living life with no arms, and he probably doesn’t spend a lot of time pondering it.  And I wonder; if reading this will change the way you view your day today, will you allow that change last into tomorrow…?  Comments are open this week, and you’re welcome to share this by Twitter, Facebook, email, or carrier-pigeon if you think it’s worthy – I happen to think it is.  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two week for my essay, Trial Separation; Thoughts On My Love/Hate Relationship With Art Of Bodybuilding. 

Oh, and there is this gem; Adrian Belew and Martha Wainwright covering brian Eno’s, Heroes. Connections like this are what playing and watching live music is all about.  Enjoy…