Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ephesians 1:15 + 8 more verses (and a tattoo idea)

This past week I ran my fastest 3200m run since my senior year in high school.  Perhaps since my junior year in high school, as I don't recall if I Coach Fisher made me run the 3200m race that I was not particularly good at.

In any case, I have not written about a bib number or race time since Boston--despite being in two races since Boston.  For Boston, I wrote about my bib number, my race time, the time on the clock when the explosions occurred and the actual time at which the explosions occurred.  I used to write about nearly ever bib number and every race time.  

This week was not even a race but it was a good reason to think about the meaning of what I doing.  

So, I looked for something to take inspiration from having to do with my 11:58 time in the 3200m.  I really thought that the fact that I had broken twelve minutes should be noted.  

So, I came upon Paul's letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 15, plus 8 more.

In the New American Bible Revised Edition, the verses read:

Therefore, I, too, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the holy ones, do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.  May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.
It is comforting to think that St. Paul--who was responsible for spreading the word of God far and wide--would be thankful for and praying for anyone--perhaps me.  It is also comforting to think that God would give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  The revelations regarding God for the past three years have been tied to my running in ways that I had never expected when a started running and teaching Sunday school and participating in church in ways that I never would have imagined as a kid.  

I also find this set of verses interesting as it refers to the eyes of your heart.  This is a line from one of the songs that we performed many times when I played with Forty More Days at church although I don't play any more--Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord.   

Of course, the entire faith is built around the notion that Jesus rose from the dead.  And I have taught about being a part of the body of Christ on earth many times.

So, this set of verses is stuff that I find easy to relate to.  While it is not a single message that I can easily summarize it just felt right when I read it and spent time thinking about it.

What was even more interesting was when I started thinking about how I could turn it into an idea for an epic tattoo.  (Just in case I ever really get the idea to open a tattoo consulting shop that might be called Tattoo Wisdom).  To turn this set of verses into an epic tattoo, I would begin by thinking of where--probably on the back to make it big enough for what I thought of.  St. Paul is often represented by a book or a sword.  So, I would begin with a large book held open by a sword.  On the hilt of the sword, I would put praying hands.  I would also put the praying hands in the lower outside corners of the pages the book is open to.  On the left hand page, I would have a combination of a brain (looking anatomically correct) and a cartoonish heart with eyes next to each other.  Above these would be a sun that would symbolize revelation.  The rays from the sun would be clearly shining on the right hand page.  From the brain would be a thought cloud that would overlap to the right hand side.  In the thought cloud spanning the whole right hand page, I would have Jesus sitting in a chair to the right of an empty chair.  I would make sure that Jesus looks like someone from the mideast and not looking overly European.  The chair to his left would be empty as I do not presume to know what God looks like.  Then, there would be a long scroll from below the chair in which Jesus is sitting that would be blank for quite some way and then be filled with names--representing how high above the others Jesus is.  Finally, I would find some way to represent the rest of the members of the church--the body of Christ.  Perhaps it would be possible to have many small characters incorporated into the robes Jesus would be wearing.  This is just a first set of ideas, but it could be pretty cool to expand on over time.  

Just so Sherry knows if she reads this, this would not be a plan for an actual tattoo for me.  Of all the things I could get a tattoo of this would not be something I would picture for myself.  It is just an idea to try out thinking about things like this and thinking about how to integrate ideas creatively into art.  

Runspiration Through Visualization x 2

This week for the first time that I remember I saw a friend use the term "runspiration".  In other words, inspiration for running.  Or perhaps inspiration from others running.  Or perhaps a bit of both.

What was interesting this week was the contrast between the runspiration that came when I hadn't been running for a while and runspiration that I can achieve after running for a while--particularly with the same training partners over and over again.

When I started running a lot a few years ago, I remember struggling to run alone.  I remember that I enjoyed the time alone to think but really didn't know how to get inspired when I was alone.

I finally became inspired more when I started running with others and watched people who could run faster than me.  Particularly people who could run long distances faster than me.  I remember in the first year of training with a Charm City Run training group watching the person who has now become my most frequent training partner and marveling at how fast she and her two friends ran without ever stopping.  I stuck with the people the coach (in her wisdom) had recommended I run with (who took a more appropriate long slow distance pace and tended to stop for water and nutrition) and it did pay off.  But I always marveled at and was inspired by the other runners who could go what seemed amazingly fast.

After two seasons of running with the safe recommendations, I decided to run with the person who has become my most frequent training partner.  I like to run a bit faster in my workouts and not stop for water or nutrition.  In the time since we began training together consistently, we have run miles and miles together.  Today was one day when she was not feeling up to running.  But I ran a workout just about as good as if I had been with my training partner.  The interesting thing was that drawing runspiration came pretty easily even when I was alone.  Specifically when I reached Greenmount and 33rd about 6.3 miles into the run, I felt myself slowing down and losing focus a bit as I thought about running up Greenmount as it turns into York Rd and heading toward home.  The runspiration came when I thought about how my training partner would take the hill and after only a brief time of losing my focus, I got it back.  My overall pace was 7:51 with the last nine miles being at 7:45.  Life was good and it was a run just like if I had been with a partner.

The other runspiration this week also occurred when I was not with the person who provided the runspiration.  Specifically, my friend who needed a boost to her confidence on Tuesday and tried to make it through a 3200m time trial runspired me to try it for myself two days later.  When I did, I succeeded in running faster than I had for that distance at any time since I was 17.  Interestingly enough, my friend's not being able to finish (she made it through 2600m before her own mental block) runspired me to work harder to make absolutely sure that I finished and finished as strongly as possible.  It was also pretty amazing to get my runspiration and my post-high school personal best with only me (and no one else near my pace) on the track.  

So, after all this time of running with people and taking runspiration from seeing people achieve in person since 2010, I am able to take runspiration from just thinking about the approach my friends would take.  And that may be extremely helpful the next time I race.  If I can take that thought process and be runspired in the race and keep my focus in a race at race pace like I did today at a workout appropriate pace, perhaps I'll be able to raise the bar for my races too.

Runspiration in the end is mostly about overcoming the mental issues I've found plaguing me the last several races I have run as I try to keep pace throughout but reach a point at which I find it difficult.  We will see where all this "runspiration through visualization" rather than "runspiration through watching" takes me.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lessons from a Sunday Run with Hills

Yesterday, I went on a long run on a Sunday.  It was a lot different than my typical weekend long run as I actually "slept in" on Saturday and was well rested for the run from the zoo starting just after 6 AM.  I had hoped to have a group of three but in the end it was just two.

The person I ran with is someone with whom I have run consistently for two years and known for three.  What was amazing yesterday was that my running friend knew just when to push the pace and just how hard to push the pace to achieve the goals my friend had in mind and to benefit me.  Enough faster going up a hill to keep and gain confidence for the next time either of us hits a hill in a race.

And in many ways that is like life in general.  Needing people to lend a hand when I need a push over a hill.  Sometimes a personal hill, and I get help from my wife.  Sometimes a professional hill and there have been many people who have helped along the way.  Sometimes I need to ask for help.  And sometimes the people around me just know I need it.  And can judge how much to help.

Not every situation is the same, but a lot can be learned from running hills with someone who is better at running hills than I am.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A better workout haiku

Track again.  To run,
Two-thirds the distance.  This time,
Faster than planned pace.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Brightened Morning

Returned home to leave 
Something I forgot. Met son. 
Received cookie. Smiled. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tattoo Wisdom

Since getting my tattoo (starting with a conversation with the artist in the spring of 2012 and ending with the last follow-up visit in early 2013), I have become a lot more interested in other people's tattoos.  Why get them?  What are they?  What do they mean?  Where to get one?  Where and when not to get one?

It is the last question that brings me to today's thought.  I recently gave advice to someone not to get a tattoo while they were in emotional turmoil.  I mentioned this on Thursday, June 27, in an earlier entry.  In my earlier entry, I noted that getting a tattoo when there is turmoil and not healing can be problematic as it might not be the best time for making a decision about a permanent change for one's body.  Another way of phrasing it would be to think of it as needing all the wisdom one can muster.  If one's wisdom is being used for something else--don't make a decision about a tattoo.  If one's wisdom is pre-occupied with other issues--don't make a decision about a tattoo.  If one's wisdom is in any way limited from giving full attention to the question of a tattoo that it deserves--don't make a decision about a tattoo.

The decision about where, how large, and what to get is critical.  It requires wisdom.  It requires consideration.  It requires prudence.  The change is so permanent and so profound (and probably so costly) that every ounce of wisdom, prudene, thoughtfulness and reason that one can muster should be dedicated to the decision.

Since offering my friend advice that I mentioned on June 27, I have been pondering whether there would be an entrepreneurial opportunity here.  I could never be the tattoo artist.  But it could be fun to help people brainstorm about symbolic tattoo ideas.  (Thinking symbolically is something I enjoy very much as my blog readers are well aware.)  It could be fun to help provide some of the wisdom and prudence.  It could be fun to help a person think through whether there is some other way to tell the story and keep it close or if it is absolutely necessary to get the tattoo because of how prominent the story is for them and how close they want it to be forever.

Many of those steps could be done by a thoughtful tattoo artist--brainstorming, careful placement, etc. But some might be possible only for a person who knows about tattoos but is not directly connected to an artist and who does not have an incentive to push for the tattoo, but instead has an incentive to provide the ideas and leave the ultimate decision to the person.

So fun--of course as a hobby that promotes symbolic thinking and linking.  (Connecting the dots and nourishing the soul is the title of the blog after all.)  Profitable--maybe?  Making a living--not likely.  But for me the key is to really emphasize that there are aspects of wisdom, prudence, and reason to getting a tattoo that people should appreciate before they make a decision.  If it is just one day on my blog and an occasional piece of advice to a friend--so be it.  If some day I make it something more, that would be interesting.   

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Keeping a Hand Written Journal

For several years my blog has been like a public journal.  In the past week, I felt like I needed some balance of things that I am willing to write out for public consumption and things that I write out because I need to proces them.  So I pulled out an old notebook.  And I pulled out a pen.  And much like the experience of writing hand written thank you notes transforming the experience of writing thank you notes, this did too.  It is different when I hand write.  I slow down.  I think more.  I try to make it neat (although having gotten C+'s for penmanship in elementary school it will only ever be so neat).  And it will mean more to me some day in all likelihood.  And if there are ever moments I want to share, I still can.

And after three days of just getting back into the swing of things, I have started a gratitude journal.  Things I am grateful for.  From today.  From years ago.  But all of which made me grateful and all of which made me into the person I am today.  What a bright outlook on how to begin.  Maybe at some point I will share what I have been grateful for.  But for now, it is all about processing what I think of and why I am grateful and how I can take all of that forward.

I don't know if everyone feels so empowered and inspired when they journal.  But I am glad to say I do.