Go Far

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
– African Proverb

I’m sure that I’ve told you the story of my running days when I would go for four runs during the week then, usually, meet a friend for a long run on Saturday mornings.

During the week I would do a loop, starting at the office, running through what is now Regions Park, then up to Glen Iris, over to Southside, down Highland Avenue, right on Clairmont passed V. Richard’s and Silvertron, up and over to Avondale, and then back to the office on 2nd Avenue. Just me and my thoughts after another day of sitting in a chair staring at a computer. Usually the run was 12 miles, but I could cut off sections to make it shorter if necessary, or add a loop here and there to stretch it to 16 if needed. I enjoyed running fast down the downhills, pushing myself on the uphills, and trying to pass other runners whenever I could. At that pace and all alone, however, 16 miles is about as far as I could go.

Saturdays, though, Brandon and I would meet somewhere, usually Oak Mountain, and run. And run. And run. The red loop is 17 miles, but we usually added 3 to 5 miles on the road to get the mileage to 20 or more. From miles 2 through 16, we’d just talk. We’d talk about kids, Alabama, upcoming races, new shoes, whatever was on our mind that day. Conversations around mile 18 turned in to short bursts of encouragement. “Come on, three more miles.” “Breathe. Breathe.” Oxygen, she’s important. At the end of 20, or 22, or 24 miles, some even number it always seemed, we’d sit in parking lot at the trail head to cool down. We’d congratulate one another on the effort and improvement.

I know it’s not politically correct right now, but it’s okay to get better – to want to get better. It’s okay to improve. Your health, your relationships, your talents, your interests, your work. At whatever it is you’re doing, it’s okay to work hard and get better. You were made to work hard, and there are times to go alone and go fast, but there are also times that you need someone’s help to go further. Being stuck doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end.

Go, be kind. Have a great weekend.

I Don’t Know What We’re Protesting

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Mending Wall, Robert Frost

I sit at the keyboard this morning, thinking about the NFL protests that occur during the National Anthem, knowing that I’m not knowledgeable enough to write anything meaningful on the subject. Nothing more meaningful than words of Robert Frost, for certain. Mending Wall addresses a lot of society’s ills.

I actually like a little civil disobedience. College students blocking the entrance to buildings. Sit-ins. Marches. I like them. Shows a little life. A little spirit. I like a peaceful refusal to participate in the norm as a form of protest to show disagreement with some law or practice. Emphasis on peaceful. Civil disobedience should lead to civil discourse, in an ideal situation, to gain understanding of the various views. The stronger the disobedience, however, the greater the reluctance to engage in discourse. Alas, the NFL protest has created more confusion than it has illuminated an issue.

The NFL protest is not about the flag, or veterans, or really even the country. The timing of the protest makes that an easy, but non-existent, correlation. To be clear, had I been advising the protest, I would have encouraged the participants to avoid protesting during the National Anthem. The message of the protest is being lost in the manner of the protest, and that’s unfortunate. Additionally, no one is talking about what the protest is about. The message simply isn’t getting out to the masses, and that leaves the masses to come up with their own beliefs of why the protest is occurring – or to just accept whatever belief the President develops. Now we’ve got Jerry Jones linking arms with his team and taking a knee, and Aaron Rodgers talking about linking arms for “love and unity.”

What?

Rodgers, in an interview earlier this week, said that the Packers had a good meeting on the subject – the specifics of which he wasn’t going to discuss because it was a closed-door team meeting. And that’s the problem. No one is actually talking, and the message of the protest is being lost in the manner of the protest.

Disobedience has to lead to discourse.

Have a good weekend.

 

 

 

 

All That To Say

I don’t remember which Christmas it was. I know it’s not an attractive character quality, but I’ve always been a bit jealous – perhaps more skeptical – of grown people who say, “I”ll never forget the Christmas when I was 9! I got an Atari 5200 and 4 – FOUR – Panama Jack shirts!” I just don’t think grown people can keep track of that type of thing. I told you it wasn’t an attractive quality.

Anyway, I don’t remember the Christmas, but one of my favorite presents ever was a Panasonic cassette tape player AND recorder. Not one of the slim, palm-sized ones either. No, this one was the size of book. The kind that you put the cassette tape in the top, with a cheap microphone that would also work as a speaker if you plugged it in to the headphone jack, and you had to push play AND record at the same time to record anything. It was utilitarian and I loved it.

On several Friday nights, I sat 3 feet away from the TV and recorded the audio of The Dukes of Hazzard. Scrambling to push ‘Pause’ when the show went to commercial so that I wouldn’t waste tape on Dove soap and their claim of being “99 and 99/100 percent pure clean!” It’s how kids of my generation developed our keen sense of timing regarding commercials. People in my house get all tense when I change the channel during a commercial break. “Turn it back! Turn it back!”, they scream. “Relax, offspring. I’ve got this,” I calmly reply. And then I tell them to get a little closer to life’s edge, but they don’t understand such. They just don’t want to miss any part of Bizaardvark.

Through the week, I’d listen to the recording, along with episodes of Gilligan’s Island that I recorded also. This was before VCRs, and way before TiVo. I like to think that I pioneered recording live television with this recording technique in the early 80s.

The Christmas that I got the cassette player/recorder, I got two cassette tapes. Both were by Alabama; My Home’s in Alabama and Feels So Right. So it must have been the Christmas of 1981,since Feels So Right came out in February 1981. I know. Some of you weren’t born. I’m sorry you missed all the fun.

Anyway, when I wasn’t listening to the episode of Gilligan’s Island where the space capsule splashed down near the castaways and ended up in the lagoon, the songs from these Alabama albums made their way through the little 2-inch speaker with a range of about 3 notes and a distortion factor of about a million.

Drinkin’ was forbidden in my christian country home.
I learned to play the flattop on them good ol’ gospel songs.

I’d listen to one side, then flip the tape over and listen to the other.

Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We get together anytime we can
Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We play together in Mother Nature’s band

When I had listened to My Home’s in Alabama enough, I’d put Feels So Right in the player and listen to it. I’ve always liked songs that told a story and, for me, Feels So Right is a better collection of songs than My Home’s in Alabama for stories. I still don’t know what “Fantasy” is about, but the stories wrapped inside “Burn Georgia Burn”, “Ride the Train”, and “Hollywood”are phenomenal. Well, maybe the Cotton Queen from Atlanta didn’t like her story.

We went to the Grand Ole Opry a couple of years ago and took the tour after the show. You get to walk on stage and stand in the circle. They tell you that you can stand in the circle, step to a cold microphone, and sing a few lines of your favorite song if you like. I sang “drinkin’ was forbidden in my christian country home. I learned to play the flattop on them good ol’ gospel songs.” And then I stepped aside.

When it comes to early Alabama, I like to think that I’m bona fide. I didn’t know many other 11 year olds who knew the words to “Woman Back Home”.

All that to say, Jason Isbell’s version of “Old Flame” is spectacular. Haunting. Just phenomenal.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!