Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Laws of Physics

No one will ever mistake me for a scientist.


My relationship with science and numbers is about the same as my relationship with Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell, despite my valiant attempts in the early 90s, it was never came to be.

That being said, I did enjoy my 11th grade Physics class. I enjoyed my teacher, Mr. Slick. He was an embodiment of his name. Having made a large amount of money in Western PA in the oil industry, he quit his job in his mid-forties to become a Physics teacher. I can still picture the odd sight of this grey haired man, rocking sunglasses with the top down on his Porsche convertible cruising into the faculty parking lot.

I can't say I remember much about the actual Physics we were supposed to learn.

I recall a lot of projects, and posters.

Projects that were perfect for my friends of high school juniors who... how should I put this... were maturity challenged.

We made an "Egg Drop" project that we named "The Silver Bullet", and a "Rubber Band Car" that we called "The Hairy Tortoise".

We thought we were funny.

But despite the fun we had, I can't exactly say much of the actual physics stuck with me. Something that doesn't seem wholly unique to me. I feel in good company when a student wonders into the Special Ed office, asking the four or five inside for physics help, watching as each of us slowly turn back to our computers pretending to ignore the question.

That's not to say that I don't like physics... just in my own way.

You see, while I don't enjoy the numbers, I do enjoy the sentiments of them, at least how I see them.

I like what they teach us about running.

I like that there is really no such thing as speed, only velocity. And while they may seem like the same thing, they are not. Because the thing about velocity has something speed doesn't, it has direction. That it's more important where you are going than how fast.

I like that physics doesn't exist in an vacuum. That everything must be in relation to something else. That everything from weight, to velocity, to simply standing still can only be measured if you look at in comparison to something else. That when we run, it's never simply about us, it's about where we came from, and those around us.

I like that every action has an equal an opposite reaction. That the things we do, both the good and bad, have an equal effect. That the miles we log, and the races we run aren't simply the steps that are taken, but an action that creates it's own reaction. The ones that make us stronger, or the ones that inspire others to do the same.

Which brings me to my favorite principal of physics, and more importantly, the real meaning of this blog entry.

One that comes to us from, of all places, the Laws of Thermodynamics.

The first law to be exact, the law that states that energy cannot be created or destroyed.

It's the basic principal of physics, that as a ball rolls up a hill, it gains the energy to roll back down, and then as it rolls back down, it gains the energy to roll back up.

At least that's the incredibly over simplified scientific(ish) version.

But that's not why I like it.

I like it because of this idea that this energy cannot be destroyed.That what we have, isn't what we  create on our own, but what we are given. And that if we look hard enough, we can always trace back where it came from.

I like the idea that if we trace back the strength we have, we can find the people that gave it to us. I like the idea that if we need something, it's not on us to create it, but to find the people who can give it to you.

And I like that it's not just about you.

That if you love someone, what a gift it is to spend time with the people who made her. That the things you love most about her, the laugh, the furrowed brow when you call her "bro", and the way she loves the people around her are of all things, the very proof of the laws of thermodynamics. That they were not created, nor destroyed but passed on from sisters, cousins, and parents.
And that's what I've learned on my spring vacation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Madness

I remember the first time I had my heart broken.

And I'm not talking about you, Jessica Ferraro.

I'm talking about basketball, and I'm talking about March.

I remember watching a first half, then playing out the second in my driveway out back. I remember going coast to coast like Tyus Edney, shooting three pointers like Tony Delk, and pounding the glass like Big Country Bryant Reeves.

I remember wearing Kerry Kittles trademark, one high sock, and one low, brushing off imaginary sweat off my nose like Jalen Rose, and wiping the bottom of my sneakers like Allen Iverson.

I remember the first time my handwriting was good enough to fill in the brackets myself, and the time I was old enough to pay the four dollar entrance fee myself.

And I remember where it all started.

I was seated on the floor, my small frame tucked between my mom's shins. She was perched above me on the couch, my head buried in her blue jeans. The reality of my favorite teams impending loss gushing out of my eye lids.

"You never know." She said.

Her words rattled in my head, the sting of their ignorance sinking  deeper into the pit of my stomach.

"You never know." She repeated once more.

And then, some thirty miles away, Grant Hill launched a ball the length of the court into the leaping grasp of Christian Laettner. He faked right, then turned left, letting a fading jump shot leave his fingers. Screams erupted around me, as my tears disintegrated into smiles.

My seven year old eyes turned back up to my mother, who smiled back at me, calm amidst the hysteria, as if she had known all along.

"You never know."

Not entirely sure why I felt like telling that story, but it seemed somehow worth telling.

But in keeping with the theme of March Madness, here now is a window into my own... madness that is.

- If my life looked like a college basketball bracket, on any given day, it would look like this....

#8 Couch                
#9 Putting on shoes

- I think I choose pen over pencil entirely too often. And feel free to make that as deep as you like.

- The only thing more dangerous than labeling yourself a rookie, is labeling yourself an expert.

- I believe in Physics, really I do, but I swear for the last three weeks I've only run into the wind, and not with it.

- Did they have fatal STDs in the Hunger Games, cause I may have found a loophole.

- Here's your second round match-up...

#7 Shoes I like    
#10 Colors I hate 

- When looking back on the things that have happened to me, if I'm honest, I was never the victim, only a volunteer.

- You know the race is getting close the first time you dream you get lost on the course.

- Why don't more people talk about the movie "Ordinary People"?

- The greatest running mystery of all time... Can the people you run by hear those little farts you let out?

- Ditch the treadmill... RUN OUTSIDE!

...There I said it.

- You don't need to run fast to know what "fast" feels like.

- Of all the articles of running clothing, your gloves may take the worst of it.... think about it, when was the last time you washed your gloves... go wash your gloves.

- You know you're an adult when you stop stealing music online.

- The amount of faith to step forward is sometimes less than the amount of faith it takes to stand still.

- Slow down is the answer just as often as speed up.

And finally...

- The life of a runner can be broken down like this... Some days your legs are stronger than your mind, and some days your mind is stronger than your legs.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 14th

Somewhere between a big sister and past favorite elementary school teacher, she's one of those people that I'm always happy to see. I met her a number of years ago before she and her husband moved to Arkansas. And over the last few months I've seen her a few times since their move back to Philadelphia. And it was on one such occasion that a memory that I had forgotten over the years popped back into my head.

A memory I decided to share, so I walked up to her and said...

"You remember when I introduced you to your husband?"

She peered back at me with confusion.

"Yeah, I introduced you to Matt." I pressed on. "Of course, you two had been married for years at that point."

And then we laughed.

You see, when I first me her after I joined a group she had been a member of for quite some time. I'd met there and her husband at a different location, but never spent any time with them together. So at some point along the way we all happened to be at the same location and in my naivety as a new member of this group, I took it upon myself to introduce the two of them to each other.

And as I was accounting this story to her, and a couple of our friend nearby, we laughed a little bit more, though she noted that she didn't remember any of this.

But I did.

I remembered not so much for the humor, or embarrassment of introducing a happily married couple to each other, but rather for the manner in which each of them went out of their way to try to spare me of said embarrassment.

But, it's funny.

It's funny to think about the moments with others that we hold on to and remember, the small moments that the others involved forget. Small moments that make up, and in other cases, change our lives. We all have them, these experiences that change our lives, even if only in a small, or temporary way. But the funny part is, that these moments rarely happen when we are alone. And yet so often, I find myself thinking if the people who were there in these instances know what role they played.

I find myself thinking about all the people that have changed my life. All the people who were there for these memories that I hold on to so dearly, the people who ultimately may have no recollection of them.

And while that may sound sad. It may be sad to think that the people who changed your life, or my life might not have any idea that they did.

But I don't think it is.

I don't think it is, because it stands to reason that if there are people out there that have no idea that they changed your life, that it's entirely possible that there are people out there that you have touched, or changed, and you, as well, have no idea.

And for some reason, I like that.

For some reason tonight as I write this looking out my rose colored, bedroom window, I like the idea that we are, each of us, anonymous agents of change in each others lives. That the lives we help, the lives we touch, we do so in such a way that we may never entirely know.

And after the week I've had, maybe that's enough for me to say goodnight to March 14th, with the faith in trying again on March 15th.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In like a lion....

You know that move you see on TV, sometimes? The one where a smaller kid or individual is attempting to punch someone of greater size. But instead attempting to block the incoming punches, the bigger person simply puts his/her hand on the others forehead and holds them at arms length, as their arms widely flail, never quite reaching their target?


Now you may be asking, what in any way does this have to do with running. And if you are asking that question, then clearly you haven't been trying to run outside lately.

Cause if you had been out lately, you would know what it feels like to come around a corner, and feel as though God is playing the part of that bigger kid, thrusting gusts of wind into your face, as your legs flail helplessly beneath you.

And that's that... the reality of running in March. 

And even though it's only the fourth day in March, I have to admit that it is my least favorite month. With the exception of a few days and a certain basketball tournament, the rest of the month as it relates to winter, reminds me of the end of a bad Ashton Kutcher movie. 

We aren't amused, and are just wondering when the fuck it will end already.

But after a quick google search asking why March is such a windy month, the answer is ironic. Cause it seems what causes the March winds that blow away what little tolerance we have remaining for winter, are our very salvation. For these winds are created when the air to our south is warmed by the sun, creating a temperature disparity between the warm, and cold air, eventually leading to these winds. (This being an incredibly, and most likely, grossly over simplified assessment.).

But all of this comes with an admission attached. 

Cause, I guess, this isn't really a blog about winter, or wind, or March. It's really been a roundabout way for me to admit something to you. Something, that for some reason, I find hard to say out loud.

I'm tired.

But that's not the admission.

The admission is that I like it.

I like being tired. I like that last Monday I ate dinner at 10pm. I like that on Wednesdays someone has to remind me to chew. I like that I'm busy. I'm busy, and I won't bore you to death with the specifics, cause quite frankly it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter, save one fact... that I signed up for all of this, and I'd sign up again if given the chance.

And if this March has taught me anything it would be that all weather breaks eventually. And maybe the very thing that's wearing you down in the same thing that'll build you back up in the end.

But I apologize if that makes no sense... but like I said... I'm tired.