Two quick observations before today’s post …
* Remember one year ago, when I wrote about the miserable weather conditions at the Napa Valley Marathon, and how I might have run a sub-three-hour marathon if not for the fierce headwinds and freezing rain? Well, at last Sunday’s Napa Marathon, conditions were absolutely ideal: sunny, calm, temps in the high 40s to low 50s in the morning. I just thought that warranted mentioning.
* Also, I know I’m a week behind on this one, but how do you like Kellie Pickler’s great new pair of … shoes? I understand her decision to play coy about the whole matter – but didn’t she realize that hundreds of websites would immediately do this kind of comparative research in hopes of blowing her story to shreds? I mean … Kellie does know about the Internet, right? Um … right?
At any rate, I think my feelings about attractive breasts have been fairly well-documented in the past - but in this case, Kellie’s new look kind of gives me the creeps. She had such a natural, wholesome image working very well for her, and now she’s transforming herself into some kind of younger, ditzier Dolly Parton. I’ll just never understand what Hollywood does to people.
OK, enough for now. On with the post …
Last weekend, my wife and I took our two oldest kids to a local theater company presentation of Seussical, the Musical, based on the collective works of Dr Seuss. The plot is an amalgamation of several stories, starring Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz (who was certainly much cuter than I remember from the book), and the residents of Whoville.
The tales are intertwined and told concurrently (or as my perplexed 5-year-old daughter told me halfway through the first act, “They’re mixing up all the stories!”), and reach a dramatic crescendo just before the close of Act 1, when almost every terrible thing imaginable starts happening to Horton.
He’s lost the clover he protecting (where all of the Whos live) after it was stolen by a group of vigilante monkeys and flown 1000 miles away by a black-bottomed eagle. He’s stuck on a nest in a tree - first through ice storms then through searing heat - waiting for the return of the deadbeat Mayzie bird who tricked him into hatching her egg. He’s about to be captured by hunters and sold to the circus. Saddest of all, he is oblivious to the affections of Gertrude, who undergoes a Kellie Pickler-like tail augmentation procedure just to gain his attention.
Of course, in the second act, everything works out just fine (it is Dr Seuss, after all): the Whos are saved, Horton and Gertrude find happiness, and children are encouraged to think whatever kinds of wonderful thinks they can imagine.
Overall, the musical was exactly what you expect from small-town theater productions: big on charm, shallow on talent, but a nice enough way to spend an afternoon. Our family went home happy, and I didn’t give the story much thought for the next few days.
Then on Tuesday I started exchanging e-mails with a training partner of mine. He was forced to sit out a 10K last weekend due to injury, and he told me he was going to take a few days off to recover.
The first e-mail exchange went like this:
Me: How are you feeling? Still injured?
Him: Still injured. Very very depressed. Angry.
And after I read his reply, a funny thing happened: I immediately thought of the Cat in the Hat.
Just prior to the close of Act 1 in Seussical, as all of those awful things are happening to Horton, the Cat in the Hat starts singing a tune called “Think of How Lucky You Are!”:
When the news is all bad,
When you're sour and blue,
When you start to get mad
You should do what I do-
How lucky you are!
When your life's going wrong
When the fates are unkind
When you're limping along
And get kicked from behind
Tell yourself how lucky you are...
Why decry a cloudy sky
An empty purse
A crazy universe?
My philosophy is simply
Things could be worse!
So be happy you're here.
Think of life as a thrill
And if worse comes to worse
(As we all know it will)
Thank your lucky star
You've gotten this far...
How lucky you are!
How lucky, how lucky you are!
So I copied and pasted the lyrics into an e-mail, and sent it off to him. I also wrote: This song probably doesn’t help, but your depression reminded me of it. Hope you’re feeling better soon.
Right around that time, it also occurred to me that it might behoove me to take my own advice every now and then. I need to remember how lucky I am.
I’ve spent the past few posts around here acting like Hamlet over a situation that countless people would love to have as their primary problem in life: the difficulty of doing back to back races. More accurately, fantastic back to back races. In the grand scheme of things, my dilemma is about as significant as a speck of dust on a clover in a field of clovers 100 miles wide. But because it’s my problem, (and for that matter, my blog), I’ve managed to make it sound like a two-act tragedy in the making.
Until now, that is.
I’m reminding myself of how fortunate I am simply for the ability to participate in endurance sports, let alone to enter and travel to big races. I’m thankful that my job hasn’t consumed my time and energy for training (at least, not yet). I’m lucky that my family tolerates me running and riding to the far reaches of Monterey County when I could be spending my time more productively at home.
And I’m grateful for everyday I get to spend in the beautiful area I live, doing the things I love, with the people I adore.
Yes, some things will continue to be difficult, and tough times of one sort or another certainly lie ahead. But sometimes we need a reminder of how much we have in relation to how much we lack. And if that lesson has to be delivered by a 6-foot cat with a striped top hat for me to understand, so be it.
On the athletic front, my friend is still out of commission for a while – perhaps including the Big Sur Marathon. I guess it takes more than a cute little song to fix a serious injury. He’s still depressed, but we’re optimistic that he’ll bounce back soon.
As for me, I’m going head first into the grinder. The workouts for the next several weeks get gradually tougher as my body gets progressively more weary. I’ll continue to stress out about completing all the training I’d like to without going over the edge and injuring myself in the process. Just because your mindset is changed, that doesn’t mean the sport gets any easier.
It just means I’m through griping about it.
March 8, 2007
Two quick observations before today’s post …