Tag Archives: change

#MyMile

19275276_10154444289351784_2410358217710841199_nStrava is the self-described “social network for athletes.” I accepted Brad’s invitation to join anyway. Strava challenged its users to go for a personal record (“PR” in runner lingo) in June in The Strava Mile. For some reason I accepted that invitation, too.

We jogged a warmup mile to the Pepperdine track last Thursday morning for this midlife crisis, er, I mean, historic event only to discover college basketball, soccer, and cross country athletes there in early morning workouts. They must have been entertained to see two middle-aged men take turns laboring at (our) top speed around the track to see how fast we could run a solitary mile. Will Ferrell and David Spade will play us in the movie.

I think we impressed ourselves if no one else. That was true for me since my regular exercise routine never includes speed work and because Michael Dukakis was running for president the last time I ran a competitive mile. It got me to wondering what an old man could really do if he was committed to a solid workout plan?

So I consulted my good friend, Google, and discovered John Trautmann. John was an elite college athlete and a 1992 Olympian who like most young adults gave up exercising, got a job that paid actual money, and started eating a lot of doughnuts. He added sixty-five pounds of Krispy Kreme by the age of forty and then decided that he preferred being in shape. So he went to work and at age forty-six (my age now) established the world record in the mile for the 45-49 age group by running an astonishing 4:12.33. 

Okay, that’s not going to happen for me. But it did happen, and that fact alone is crazy inspirational.

What needs changing in your life? And what are you waiting for?

Ch-Ch-Changes

overwhelmed

I was just a toddler when David Bowie released “Changes,” reportedly a throw-away ditty that with time became one of his best-known songs.  “Changes” seems a fitting title track for the world today, but as I attempt to accomplish the trifecta of moving houses, jobs, and offices in the next week or so, I kind of have it stuck in the old noggin for personal reasons.

There are benefits to moving, of course.  Like mental and physical exhaustion.  The aroma of cardboard.  An urge to google “hoarder assessment quiz.”  Noble attempts at impossible to-do lists.  Locating unused muscle groups.  Discovering spiders in little-trafficked areas of the house.  Mental and physical exhaustion.  Did I mention that one already?  Forgetfulness.

But don’t forget the magical feeling of a fresh start that comes along for the ride, too.  And the opportunity to throw away junk and live more simply.  And the glorious break from the old routine to attempt to create a better routine.  And the sudden appearance of the word “possibilities” in daily conversations.  Changes can be downright invigorating, and I for one am excited by the prospect in spite of the unavoidable challenges.

“I hate moving” seems to be the natural and popular thing to say.  But I sure love getting somewhere, and it stands to reason that it is hard to get somewhere if you are immovable.

Discovering Diversity

I participated in a “privilege beads” exercise at a diversity conference a year ago that involved reading statements and taking applicable beads to create a privilege bracelet.  As a white, straight, Christian, highly-educated, American male who lives in Malibu, I made a privilege hula-hoop.  It was embarrassing.  It was particularly embarrassing because one of my primary self-identifiers has always been growing up poor (read: underprivileged).  I am all about sticking it to the Man, ironically, and standing up for the little guy, i.e., my people.  Imagine my surprise.

But discovering diversity has been, for me, a humiliating pathway to joy.  The world is a big and beautiful place, and leaving the startling homogeneity of my hometown, though filled with wonderful people, has been an indescribable blessing.  I have learned so much, mainly that I know so little, and what I don’t know is fascinating without fail.  More importantly, I now have relationships with people who represent ethnicity, identities, faiths, interests, and nationalities that I never even heard of as a child.  That is my real privilege.  I am better for knowing these good souls, sure, but more importantly, the world is better for knowing them, too.

I returned to the same conference this year hoping for no privilege beads but anticipating new and deeper relationships and was not disappointed on any count.  One of the many things I learned at this year’s conference is that the majority of the United States will be non-white by 2044 and that 2011 already marked the first year that more non-white babies were born in the United States than white babies.  Significant change is occurring as to several of my privileges, some far more quickly than others.  My Facebook feed reminds me that many find such changes to be frightening.  Since diversity has been a great blessing in my life, I see it with different eyes.  To co-opt the famous FDR quote, the only frightening thing I see is the fear itself.

Bird Brained

I returned from a difficult morning run and walked the neighborhood searching my brain for the department in charge of breathing.  Eventually, after the wheezing subsided, I heard a strange shuffle-pop sound on repeat, which turned out to be a little bird perched on the passenger side mirror of a neighbor’s car having a little showdown with itself.  It was a good fight, but my best estimate was that it was headed for a draw.

It cracked me up, the stupid little bird ignorant that the enemy in the stare-down was simply his/her/its own reflection.  I admired the courage, what with the sudden beak attacks that were magically matched beak-on-beak, but repeatedly charging face-first into a piece of glass was pretty funny.

Until, that is, it occurred to me that in a sense I am that stupid little bird.  The absolute biggest threat to my survival is that joker staring back at me in the mirror, and although (most days) I don’t slam my face repeatedly in the mirror, it is true that no one attacks me more than me.

An honest look in the mirror, sizing oneself up, noticing flaws and so on, seems not only healthy but also necessary to effect any real, lasting change.  Beating yourself up, on the other hand, makes about as much sense as that goofy bird repeatedly catapulting itself into a mirror.

The More Things Change…

A fun video of contemporary kiddos attempting to use an old computer with the Windows 95 operating system made the Internet rounds recently, and by “fun” I mean it is now either time for me to die or move into the retirement village.

We bought our first home computer in 1995 just as the Windows 95 revolution launched, and when the gazillion black-and-white spotted boxes from Gateway 2000 (“Computers from Iowa?”) arrived and I successfully operated the crane to extract the computer from said boxes, it came with Windows 3.1 pre-loaded and a Windows 95 upgrade disk. We were cutting edge. We were also semi-stupid, having invested a full month’s pre-tax salary (my wife and I combined) on this contraption: three thousand bucks, which included three-hundred bucks for a (prepare yourself) “color” printer.

Windows 95 was supposedly the best thing ever for humanity although my lack of attention to computer technology pre-1995 made me less than an expert. Windows 95 (I was told) unveiled a revolutionary “Start” button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, enabling morons like me to just point and click pretty things with advanced terms like “Start.” Sadly, it took me awhile to catch on.

But I did. And it was awesome watching Weezer perform “Buddy Holly” over and over again from the Windows 95 upgrade CD. Although the video quality was less impressive than the television across the room, it was glorious that Weezer performed “Buddy Holly” when I wanted and not at the unpredictable whim of MTV. And Encarta was SO cool. Who cares that I could have bought ten encyclopedia sets for that amount of money—Encarta offered zero paper cuts and (some) actual videos on interesting topics!

Watching today’s teenagers fumble around Windows 95 resurrected words like Netscape and Prodigy from my long-term memory and brought back the image of a telephone cord strung dangerously across our dining room so that we could count down our ten free hours on Compuserve (and not receive any phone calls, which was a service we were actually paying for).

The world has changed significantly in the past two decades, although I’m not entirely sure it has been for better or worse.

What I do know is that has changed, is changing, and will change, and in another couple of decades teenagers will still be laughing about it. So if it’s all the same to you, I suggest that we take ourselves a little less seriously.

Reinvent Yourself

you-can-call-me-al

I join those who say Facebook is at least worthwhile on your birthday. I liked every nice message last week, although it took forever to “like” each message, but as I worked through the list, the number of names I have collected over the years was striking.

#1: LITTLE AL: That made me smile. I was named after my dad who was named after his dad, so I was Little Al to my dad’s Big Al for many years until I outgrew him by eight inches, which led to…

#2: BIG AL: That was high school and college, partly due to my height, but partly because Al is a name that just feels right with Big in front of it, like John, Dave, Bird, Brother, Trouble, Sur, Government…

#3: COACH AL: My first job was coaching my high school alma mater, and when the superintendent introduced me to the student body, he simply couldn’t bring himself to refer to someone he knew since Little Al as Coach Sturgeon; henceforth, Coach Al.

#4: MR. STURGEON: I moved to a non-coaching job at a new school. Good job, but boring name.

#5: BROTHER AL: My next career was preaching, and we remained in the South, so you get it.

#6: DEAN STURGEON: And then there is now. This one is slowly catching on.

Which do I like best? All of them because each brings awesome memories of great people. Which do I prefer? I don’t, but if you have no reason to use one in particular, then Paul Simon’s song (and classic music video) sums up my advice: You Can Call Me Al.

What does this have to do with anything? Whatever you think about the scientific theory of human evolution, it is undeniable that we evolve as individual human beings, and our capacity to reinvent ourselves appears limitless. So are you happy with all of “you” right now? I suspect none of us are, so the question emerges: Which version of you comes next? You do get to choose.

Today, an elderly couple passed me on the 101 test driving a sparkling white Mercedes convertible with a handicap placard dangling from the rear view mirror in the breeze. That isn’t my personal style, but hey, Fred and Myrtle are making a choice!