|The Flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi. He was not an idiot.|
I’m an idiot. No, seriously I am. Many of the people who know me will vouch for this. Oh sure some people only see the genius that I am or overlook my foibles but there is no question of me being stone stupid. May I provide evidence? Thank you. Here it is: Today I went to the doctor about pain I’ve been experiencing this past week which is located just above my left foot. I was entirely confident going to this appointment that I had already correctly diagnosed the pain as being from shin splints. I had further accurately predicted the cause of this malady. To wit: not cross training, running too much for too long too fast and not replacing my running shoes soon enough. I knew good and well that I was running too much too fast for too long and that my shoes were due for a replacement and yet I continued to run 20 miles a week, or more. In fact, I even thought at one point that I should let up but countered to myself that I would just continue until I got an injury. Well I got one. Idiot.
I am the type of person who will stubbornly continue to do a physical exertion or exercise despite the risks. That is to say, I am male. Men are far dumber than women in such instances, even more dumb than women in this instance than in all the countless other ways we are their intellectual inferiors. A man can even know that what he is doing will come to a bad end and yet continue to do it. For me this is compounded by my addictive personality. I am addicted to running (it is a much better thing to be addicted to than some of the substances I had trouble laying off). A month or two ago I should have taken four to six weeks off and engaged in another form of aerobic activity. One that did not put such stress on the same part of my body. But I get off on running. Endorphins.
I also happen to be something of a bookkeeper about my running. I record the length and times of runs and tally them for the month. This I find fun. I set goals, make projections and try to beat records. If I don’t run I can’t make an entry in my running log and that gives me an empty feeling. Well I ain’t running now, that’s for sure and it will be several weeks before I do again. Idiot.
My recovery will no doubt be slowed by the nature of my work. I teach. And I don’t sit behind a desk or stand in one spot. As a teacher I gallop and prance and stride and march and bounce and sashay and hop and glide and goddamn it even dance. I am a whirling dervish of a teacher. It’s the only way I know how. This frenzied activity coupled with my running and the fact that I walk a lot keeps me from being morbidly obese despite my ravenous appetite. I’ve gained four pounds since I was last weighed a mere 11 days ago. Obviously the fact that I’ve run but once in that time and have consumed enough food to feed the Bulgarian Army accounts for my ballooning. I went from looking like a chiseled athlete to being confused for a zeppelin in under two weeks.
So I suppose you think I’ve learned my lesson. I do too. But I also know better than to assume that everything will be hunky dory from this day forward. The thing about us idiots is that we have the capacity to repeat the same mistake twice or thrice or more. That’s why we’re idiots.
I now change the subject….
Two nights ago I had a dream in which I was given the opportunity to live my life over again starting at age15 all while knowing what I know now. This is situation many of us ponder occasionally. I remember meeting some friends of my dad’s once. One asked me how old I was I told him (I believe it was 16,17) and he said he wished he could be that age again knowing what he does now, the other friend heartily agreed. (My dad did not participate in hypotheticals.) Anyway I didn’t understand what they were talking about. I thought being older was the answer to life’s problems. Fat lot I knew. As a number of wise people have said (and I paraphrase here) “experience is the worst teacher, it gives the test before presenting the lesson.” Amen.
So in the dream I started mapping out some of the things I would be doing differently before actually living them again. Boy did I have a lot of them. But with each action or behavior I was going to change I wanted to be sure that I married the same woman. Somehow through all the colossal fuck ups I’ve committed in my life I wound up with the perfect mate. Not surprisingly this has resulted in two perfectly wonderful children who I wouldn’t trade for anyone.
A problem did occur in the dream, I kept realizing by taking a different course I’d miss out on some of the fantastic people I got to know. It was difficult to imagine my life without those people who had shaped it in such positive ways. Of course there would have been other people who might have been just as wonderful not to mention the fame and riches I would have amassed by taking different roads. In the end it was all a mess. I realized that you get one shot and make the best of it and live with your choices, try to learn along the way and count your blessings (but not necessarily in religious way if, like me, you aren’t a religious sort). There are some people whose early mistakes reap devastating consequences and they spend their lives in deep regret. Regrets are nasty things that can suck the joy out of your life. They’re best not to indulge in.
All said and done I enjoyed the dream. It was better than that other stupid one I had about Berkeley putting in a crocodile pond in a downtown park without any barriers. That was stupid.