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March 8, 2007

How Lucky I Am!

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-

Tell yourself
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.

10 comments:

Backofpack 3/8/07, 10:54 AM  

Oh, this is like the good old days - I'm the first to comment! I come home for a quick break between events and discover a new Rambling post...and it's a nice one and a good thing to remember.

You know, one good thing about this is once you've done it'll be come part of the glory days: "remember when I..." You can milk that forever!

E-Speed 3/8/07, 12:04 PM  

Good attitude! Hope your friends recovery is swift!

Anne 3/8/07, 6:00 PM  

You are so right about rememering to be being grateful more often for what we have. I'm going to memorize some of those stanzas and repeat them while running a Seuss-themed 8k in early May.

Anne 3/8/07, 6:01 PM  

Geez. My message made about as much sense as some of Dr. Seuss's books. Sorry.

Robb 3/8/07, 9:50 PM  

I always enjoy reading your posts Donald but I have to confess I enjoy reading BOP's comments just as much. What's the world coming to.

No one has reacted to your thoughts on Kellie? I'll only say that it's good to see you are still thinking about boobs. That's all I'll say.

On that note...

Cliff 3/9/07, 6:39 AM  

Donald,

I am sitting out on an injury too. Feeling quite bum considering right now i am unemploy and have all the time in the world to train.

Thanks for the Dr Seuss poem.

olga 3/9/07, 1:54 PM  

I read this post a couple of times, but missed out on the Cat's song...and now I read it over - can't believe how good it is! May be I should actually read Dr. Seuss books? Good point, really good, I am going to steal it now:)

Annette 3/10/07, 2:10 PM  

First, let me say that I have to agree about Kellie's transformation - not so good. I was cracking up at Ryan Seacrest trying NOT to look at her chest when asking her about her latest purchases. :)

Second, love the Dr. Seuss song. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own misery we forget about all the good things happening around us.

Good luck with your training!

Journey to a Centum 3/12/07, 6:58 PM  

Thanks for the confirmation on Kellie’s new look. My 18 year old son and I were watching the show and I commented to him that it looked like something had been enhanced. We both agreed that it just must have been her new hair style:-)(.)(.)

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

---Dr. Seuss

Mike 3/13/07, 12:03 AM  

Donald that was a GREAT post and I really needed to read that right about now as I'm nursing a sore heel yet again and feeling sorry for myself.

Thanks for the reminder- the glass is definitely half full!

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