Thirteen. Some people hold to the superstition that you are an unlucky sort of number. But if I have one take-away lesson from this past year, twenty-thirteen, is that luck is something that one makes for oneself: luck is part fortune and fate, but another part having the wherewithal to be in the right place, in the right frame of mind, with the right preparation when the time comes that fortune and fate happen to intersect with all that. My 2013 wasn’t necessarily a lucky year, but it was a year when I think a lot of fortune and fate collided with a lot of right-place-right-time coincidence: and for what it’s worth, the result was pretty awesome.
I trained a lot. Ran. And the result was me getting drawn into a summer of training and leading and setting goals and so much running that what resulted will forever be etched upon my memory as one of my proudest personal achievements.
We traveled, and were in the right place and right time to collide with interesting people participating in interesting events in interesting situations, all of it making for interesting stories full of clashing culture and name-dropping goodness and surreal memories of moments now passed.
I wrote a lot. Blogged. And the right person in the right frame of mind nominated me for an award for that effort, an award that trickled through a process at a time when I was perfectly prepared for it, and I won.
I worked. Not always worked hard, but I worked steadily towards a goal, grabbing every collision of fate and fortune that passed through and zipped by, while pushing forward on that same steady puzzle, and that all that work has culminated in a rewarding and successful year professionally.
And I lived. I didn’t always grab every moment, but I grabbed a few really important ones and… and…
And now 2013 is over. And here I am again, writing about that year of collisions of fate, fortune and focus in an epic (and very likely narcissistic) post in my Ninth Annual New Years List. Another list of moments and memories. Another reflection on a year past. Just because, so here goes…
Pennies. Some friends… and other foes, maybe. Aches and pains, but probably soon to pick up a few new ones. Oh and that sense that running a race was something innocent and good, not troubled by the threat of senseless domestic terrorism. That. Those. Other bits here and little bytes there. Fragments of things better left unsaid.
Also, sadly, people who we should have known better but who we let slip through our fingers because of our never-ending life-cluttering efforts at filling our time and space with distractions or extra-curricular efforts of debateable importance.
Time passed. Life went on. Much good, other pieces obscured. Left behind. And with it a few good pairs of running shoes.
How did you make money in 2013? How might you briefly describe to others what you do for a living?
While technically my job title or description hasn’t changed much at all in the last three years — and it’s been exactly three great years as of last month — this past year has seen me working on a project of almost singular focus and scope. If all goes well, it will launch before the first month of 2014 is out, but the bulk of the work is done, in the hopper (as it were) and just waiting for the rest of the pieces to strategically align. This year was my year of overhauling, re-designing, and rebuilding a substantially large intranet system.
For those outside the realm of the modern desk-jockey corporate world, understand that nearly every big organization has a kind of private computer network-type system tucked away behind closed doors where they keep various things of particular internal importance. These are things that may need to live on an Internet-type environment, but be hidden away from public eyes for reasons of privacy or internal security, that type of thing. This is an intranet: a private web of information. Mostly, it’s lists of internal policies, HR forms, ordering procedures, help desk numbers, contact listings, internal service support details, and maybe some good-news stories written and shared in the name of building a sense of corporate community. It’s good and important stuff if you work somewhere and need that information… and most of the time, for most intranets, it’s a bungled mess of files and documents that are poorly named, lacked sorting, and not very usable. Over the last year my project has been to fix our version of that problem, acting as a kind of operational project manager, coordinating the re-write of thousands of documents, the strategic update of the information architecture, and the re-launch of a number of new technical pieces to make the information more useful, standardized, easier to find, and engaging for the ten-thousand plus people who work here. In 2014, we’re hoping the result of all the work will be not only a measurable improvement in efficiency but a solution to the problem of filling the gaps left by groups who over the years have lost confidence and no longer saw value in throwing good, new information into a messy library. It’s been a rewarding and generally educational adventure. And that’s how I earned my paycheque this year.
What do you wish you’d done more of? Less of?
Read more. Sadly, I write that sentiment a lot, I think, but this is the year when I think I’d be hard-pressed to tell you of a single span of solid reading, nose-in-a-book, head-down, absorbed reading that I’ve done. I love books. I love paper books. I love stories. I love words on the digital paper of my Kindle. I love tales wrapped around pictures. I love ideas smeared in ink on dead trees. But 2013 was a bit of a wash for my personal literacy tally, and that feels sad.
Procrastinated less. What else can I say about that? Maybe I’ll write more about it later.
How would you describe the world from your perspective in terms of:
Self-referential. Does that make sense? It’s a tough thing to pin down an idea about the perspective of something as broad as technology, but I guess from my narrow little window of insight it seems that technology sort of moved towards a phase of embracing itself more this year. 8-bit-cool peaked in the gaming world. Online services stopped trying to be copies of their brick-and-mortar equivalents, and instead re-invented around better ideas of what they should be for as technology instead. Interfaces, operating systems, and web designs moved significantly away from trying to “look like” other things — paper, buttons or tabs — and just became slick and flat and took more care to become things of themselves rather than mimicking something outside of themselves. The story became less about the technology as it was about the impact of the technology and the momentum behind it. Or at least that’s what I saw.
Re-grouping. As much as I think I know about culture, my curiosity in it blooms from the fact I live in an insular-kinda society, a society that is to culture as a cacti is to water, hoarding what little there is of it in a vast, dry desert of dehydrated scarcity. You can argue with that sentiment, but my life seems more defined by manufactured culture, pop culture, and an illusion of electronic culture as a by-product of social media, actually, than it does by any foundation of something stronger. So, hearing that groups all around me are embracing culture in exciting ways — such as, did you hear that the town of Hobbema is being renamed to Maskwacis on January first, a word that means “bear hills” in Cree, embracing the past, present and future as something they own and are in control of — it makes me enviously wish I had a stronger cultural heritage myself, but simultaneously excited that we live in a time when and place where previously marginalized groups of culturally rich people are embracing theirs.
Torch-passing. Maybe this is just my narrow little perspective on the world, but the fact that the mayoral race in my city went to a guy who is three years my junior had (and still has) me feeling like some kind of torch was passed this year, generation to generation in a way. Symbolically. Whatever it means or whatever it’s worth. Of course… while the rest of the world continues on as it normally does.
Sensationalism. And in both senses of the word: Sensationalism is (a) a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewer-ship or readership numbers (source: Wikipedia.com) and (b) the idea that “all our faculties come from the senses or… more precisely, from sensations”; that “our sensations are not the very qualities of objects [but] only modifications of our soul”; and that attention is only the sensation’s occupancy of the mind, memory the retention of sensation, and comparison a twofold attention. (source: britannica.com & Étienne Bonnot de Condillac) In other words, in 2013 from my humble perspective, we seemed to be less rational and more emotionally driven than may actually be good for us.
Pending. Sadly, in a world that felt some of the first very real and very devastating rumblings of what is threatening to be a long and painful stretch of natural disasters, almost certainly the first major side-effects of human-induced climate change, there are still a lot of people with their heads in the metaphorical sand on this oddly-controversial issue. I don’t care what your political or spiritual leanings are… and neither does a natural disaster: we are all of us but specks of dust on a speck of dust swirling through a vast and cold universe that very probably doesn’t care a whiff about us. We should care about each other and we really need to do that a lot better, too. If we don’t… well… I honestly don’t have much faith in our long term prospects. How does that saying go? In an avalanche, no one snowflake ever feels responsible.
What three experiences will always remind you of 2013?
1) Travelling with famous people… sorta. For example, sitting in the hot tub with Karin and Claire, on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean, one quiet weekday evening after a lovely dinner, and watching in odd fascination as John Hodgman (yes, the famous one) walked out onto the ship’s top deck, just a few feet away in a tuxedo and conducted a sound-check for (I assume) some kind of upcoming performance, maybe. Actually, the whole experience of being on a cruise ship with a bunch of internet celebrities was kinda surreal and memorable that way.
2) The five-second-video project. I’ve mentioned it off-hand a couple of times in this blog, but unless you’ve been to our house to watch the family movie collection lately you have not experienced it. Unlike the 365 Photo-a-Day project of last year which had it’s own gallery, blog, and regular update, I haven’t really posted much of the video online. Actually, almost none of it. But I have been taking video… every day. At least five seconds worth. And as of this writing I’ve completed eleven “5 Seconds of __________ (month)” video compilations, sequentially stringing those five second clips together to music, that have become favourites and future time-capsules of our year. It’s been a lot more work than I let on, I’ll be happy to be done with it come 2014, but still it’s defined 2013 for me in many ways.
3) The unofficial theme of this post: my first marathon? So much of that race is a fleeting, flitting memory, but so much more of it is burned into my brain in some kind of permanent and epic recollection: kicking out of the gate with my a couple of my star clinic pals, Lynda and Suzanne, by my side, Chelsea chasing us down on her bike and cheering us on from a half dozen different locations, camera in hand, Lynda freaking out at her mom (who was cheering her on) over a bottle of water (yes, that happened), the guy I passed who was smoking a cigarette as he was running, Andrew and Erin giving me that last push of energy at the 40 klick mark, Karin trying to record my finish on the GoPro, Ron running the last hundred meters with me, the finish, my short stint the medical tent, and then just being so mixed about it all being over.
Without asking them, what are three words your ________ would use to describe their 2013?
a) spouse? 4am phone calls
b) kid(s)? I’m six now!
c) parent(s)? living it, lucky
Without asking them, what are three words you think that your ________ would use to describe you in 2013?
a) spouse? runs too much
b) kid(s)? dad, you’re weird
c) parent(s)? brags too much
What are the details (events, memories, etc) surrounding important days in your life in 2013:
a) birthday? I turned thirty-seven. Nothing significant. Nothing noteworthy. Just an arbitrary prime number in my late-thirties. The girls got me some nice geeky gifts, including a LEGO model of the Delorean time machine from Back to the Future: this, of course, sparked a good excuse to introduce Claire to the movie trilogy, and the weather accommodated us giving us a too-cold-to-be-outside sort of day where we pretty much just camped on the couch watching all three movies straight through. Oh, and then we went for dinner at the Bates Motel, played some board games, and generally had a good time with friends celebrating a raft of Novemberish Birthdays.
b) anniversary? It was our tenth. Ten years. Yeah, it’s been that long. Summer was in full swing. Claire was visiting her grandparents in Red Deer. We went out for a nice dinner and had a relaxing sort of evening. If I recall correctly, we even took the dog for a walk together, something that we don’t do that often, just us. If it doesn’t sound like we celebrated too wildly on the day, the real event came in early November when we made our tenth anniversary an excuse for a grown-up trip to New York City for an extended long weekend.
c) the holidays? We spent Christmas in Camrose. Karin’s brother, after getting married late last year, built a house… and it was due for a family invasion to season it up for the season. We stormed the fortress on the 24th and did the standard open-the-gifts thing. The kids laid out goodies for Santa and the reindeer, and were giddy with surprise at their stuffed stockings the next morning. I made crepes with my awesome crepe-making skills, and everyone seemed to enjoy that. We spent the rest of the day just hanging out: I did some online shopping and bought a new running watch from Amazon, watched some TV, ate waaaaay too much junk, and then ate another big meal before hopping into the jacuzzi in the backyard in the sub-zero, snowy weather.
d) new years? It was a Tuesday. And as I’m writing this prior to the actual event (again) I’ll summarize the plan. Dinner at our house with friends, (weather cooperating) the fireworks and family fun in the nearby park, some drinks, some chatting, and perhaps some games as we ring in the new year. And for the sixth year in a row, a five kilometer icy cold run on the morning of the first — a day off — as we kick off yet another round of running goals and celebrate the bittersweet reminder of another new year. 2014.
How would you describe your life from your perspective in terms of:
a) fun? The golden age of childhood, revisited. Claire is in the fun age, now. She likes cool toys like LEGO. She can play games with me, and legitimately hold her own… winning. She’s into video games, like Minecraft and (lately) Disney Infinity, and is always asking to watch me play the more “grown up” games, like Skyrim and occasionally (I should tell you this, but) Left 4 Dead 2… but just for a few minutes until she gets her scare-fix on. She likes normal, fun music and has left the toddler-music phase. She can talk about movies, and likes some of the classics that I’m into (Star Wars & Back to the Future, anyone?) And she still thinks I’m her ultimate hero. How is that for fun?
b) family? Still growing. My baby sister got herself engaged over the summer at what was supposed to be her surprise birthday party but was actually a surprise engagement party on her birthday. So… another wedding in 2014 I guess. Oh, and both families migrated to the share-everything world of Google Hangouts this year: it’s like a perpetual family chat and private Facebook… a lot of it.
c) friends? No matter how much we try, friends always seem to fall by the wayside as the first victims of our hectic and busy schedules. Cultural anthropologists of the future will look back at our society and wonder why we were so concerned with being fit, well-educated, skill-laden people, but ignored the people in our lives as a result. The expense of having hobbies: you spend your time with the hobbies rather than with the people. That said, this was the year we cut a square hole in our fence and created a magic-filled portal into our neighbor’s backyard: if that isn’t friendly, I don’t know what is.
d) food? Eating and I have always been at odds. The thing with running a marathon… training for a marathon… is that you can’t do that while on a diet. Or while eating crappily. Or while messing around with what you’re eating. It will mess you up… seriously. So, I’ve been doing all this running. And eating enough to support all this running. All those klicks need calories. Food and I may have gotten a little too comfortable again this year, and we’re going to need to have a serious talk once this Disneyworld race is over.
e) fitness? First marathon done. Need I say more? Oh. and seventeen hundred klicks this year. Not too shabby, huh?
f) finances? It’s not super-polite to write about your doing-ok-ness, so let’s just say we’re doing ok this year and not push our luck. The blips of the past years have levelled out. The market is making our portfolios look bigger than they probably are. And we’re on the south-side of our mortgage now, which feels a bit like coasting. I gave a bit more generously, spent a bit more frivolously (but only in some ways) and we travelled a bit more extravagantly than a young couple with a kid right should be able to, perhaps. We’re doing ok.
g) fashion? Sporty Spice. Having “suited up” late last year, I went out of my way to find excuses to wear my sport-coat to work more often. Whether is was for an important meeting with the execs or just looking properly trim for a group outing, I gave my own private push in the direction of raising the dress-code bar at the office. At home, on the other hand, it was an odd day to find me NOT sporting some kind of wicking-type-fabric emblazoned with some kind of running event logo.
Compared to this time last year, you are:
a) happier or sadder? Not much to say on this one: more stress and more stuff to do equates to a little sadder. Healthy, fit, and having a great family leads to happier. I can’t complain too much so it all probably balances out.
b) thinner or fatter? Again, with that epic eating change about 18 months ago, last year this was a no-brainer. This year, I’ve been training more but eating more. It’s probably a wash, and depends on the day you ask me.
c) richer or poorer? I stuffed a lot of money into my retirement savings this year… passed a couple milestones in that regard, actually. This makes me feel a little richer, even though my disposable income has been a little more tied up… which makes me feel poorer.
d) focused or distracted? It depends on the subject. Overall, I think I’ve been able to focus like a laser on a few select things, but the sad result has been a lack of focus in other important stuff. So, my focus gets a little blurry when you pick a subject I’ve neglected in 2013, but looks like an epic achievement when you shine a light on one of my groovy achievements of the year.
e) responsible or irresponsible? I know what I’d like to say, but if I’m being honest about it I’d probably admit there are few grown-up responsibilities I’ve let slip this year in lieu of hobbies and television. I always get this sense I should probably be doing more chores or fixing more things around the house, and I’ve been ignoring it too much: so, irresponsible.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Failure?
Both my wins and losses come in the form of running.
I’ve told people this numerous times since it happened, but leading the marathon clinic this summer will be something that I’ll hold up for the rest of my life as one of my proudest personal achievements. Out of the ten people who were both officially and unofficially taking the clinic, all ten crossed the finish line in August. All ten started. All ten ran. All ten stepped across the 42.2 klick mark a number of hours later, myself include. Every last one of them put in the hours of training, dedicated themselves to the task, and powered through a grueling run that tested mind, body, and spirit in a definitive race of fitness achievement, and I’ll forever get to be proud that, at some level, they were my group… my runners.
Optimistically, I had kicked off an effort to spin off my writing about running in a second blog. Back in February or so I registered the domain name FEETS.CA and started writing. And writing. And writing. And even had a few people who shared their own words on the site. It looked like it was going to take off there for a while. But life got in the way. Ideas and topics became thin. And I just couldn’t maintain the editorial production level that would keep readers interested. I shuttered the blog in October, having missed updating it for a couple months with a short note of apology in it’s place. I hate to call trying and not succeeding a failure –because, hey, a guy’s gotta try these things and see what sticks– but it feels like one.
Did you travel? Where?
A couple of big trips took place this year: we were super-lucky to have been both healthy enough and financially stable enough to do so much traveling in 2013.
In February we splurged on a Caribbean cruise. The three of us traveled to Port Canaveral, Florida (hitting up the Space Center at the Cape while we were there) and boarded a Southward-bound cruise ship, the Freedom of the Seas, a thirty-six hundred passenger mega-cruise-ship and all-round floating-city. We spent an all-too-short week hitting ports in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, all the while crossing paths with an odd and eclectic collection of Internet celebrities who happened to be hosting a theme cruise on our boat.
On the coat-tails of Halloween, we entered November on a plane to New York City. Karin and I took a grown-ups only trip to the Big Apple as a kind of belated anniversary thing, leaving Claire at home with the grandparents. We took in a collection of shows, including two on Broadway and a fortuitous stumbling upon a podcast recording by Neil Degrasse Tyson. We watched a bit of the New York Marathon. We checked out the sites, shopped, walked, rode the subway, ate great food, and filled our days with so much Manhattan tourist fun we left with nary a regret.
What did you want and get? Not get?
Get: a new running watch to replace my five year old, slightly neurotic, been-with-me-for-a-thousand-runs GPS watch. There are some really nice new cool ones out there and I’ll regret shelving the old one, but it is on borrowed time. Very borrowed. I had considered buying one as a personal “yay-me” reward for crossing that first-marathon finish line back in August, but I put it off and put it off and put it off some more. Then, the Rolls Royce of running watches was released in November and… drool. Needless to say, one lazy Christmas morning in my pajamas and some holiday money burning a hole in my pockets later: it’s in the mail and is/was due to arrive on New Years Eve, just in time to count as a 2013 “get” and for an inaugural run in the 2014 Resolution Run race.
Not get: a library. Or at least the chance to undertake the project of renovating –painting, re-flooring, and updating– the room in our house that Karin currently uses as a work-from-home office and for which we have these never-starting plans of turning into a reading-room-slash-library-slash-office space. Y’know, some nice relaxing colours on the wall, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, a comfy reading chair with good lighting, and a classy desk with better ergonomics for my poor wife who is currently working from a rickety ikea-special and an old wooden kitchen chair.
What ___________ will likely remind you of 2013 and why?
a) website – Over the last three months of the year I sorta-quietly watched as a little process happened around this very blog. See, I was nominated, then long-listed, then short-listed, then won in no-less-than two categories for a blog award as presented by this website: canadianweblogawards.com. I don’t know if that means anything. I mean, it’s nice to be recognized for a dozen years of effort. And it’s nice to see new traffic. But I’m not going to let it change how or why I write. That said, it will always kinda remind me of 2013 and my two first-place wins.
b) movie – Technically this Disney flick was released in 2012. But it wasn’t until I was wrapped in a beach towel, sitting in a deck chair on the top deck of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean, my family next to me, on a dark weekday night in February that I first saw Wreck it Ralph. The movie and soundtrack would come to infiltrate our lives for much of the spring and summer, and there was a time when Claire could and would recite entire acts from the movie by rote.
c) song – Being the father of a six-year-old and a guy who frequently plays the role of dad’s taxi service, the playlist in my car tends to have a lot of pop-candy-type, disney-soundtrack-esque music in it. I write that so you’ll go easy on me when I tell you that the song that kinda defined my year, and pushed it’s way into being a kind of unofficial anthem of my running (if only because it always seemed to be playing when I was driving over, or from, or related-to somewhere that involved running) was an Owl City song that featured in the aforementioned movie Wreck It Ralph, “When Can I See You Again.” As with anything that gets you pumped up, it helps when it also happens to be the result of a collision of the compound inspiration of a feel-good movie, an epic training effort, and a the little girl whose encouragement is infectious and who is also singing along from the backseat each day. I’d apologize for my possibly-questionable taste in music, but sometimes you don’t get to choose these things… they choose you.
d) art – Family vacations have a way of acting like gravitational vortexes of memory, it seems. Also, we tend to seek out art when we’re on vacation: local stuff that we can bring home and frame… it’s kinda our souvenir. So, the fact that Karin, my vacation-planning-wife-extraordinaire, tracked down “That Yoda Guy” in Philipsburg on the island of St Marteen — a guy whose fame was drawn from his work on the original Star Wars movies — and we ended up buying some of his art… well, that kinda stuck with me and makes for an eclectic and memorable story.
e) game – Technically, can you call something that’s merely gamified (or game-like, game-ish, or maybe just fun-ducational) a game? I don’t know. But we’ve been playing this little game on our phones for the last year or so called Duolingo. Game? Not game? Quasi-game? Call it what you will. It’s gamified language learning. It’s fun. And it’s teaching me French, kinda-somehow, and it’s been sucking my time this year… but with some positive side-effects for once.
What was the best book or story that you read and what was your greatest literary discovery for 2013?
My earlier laments about my lack of reading this year make this a kind of moot point: what little indulgence I made on the literary front is a sad selection to choose from to rate something as the “best” or “greatest.” That said, my greatest literary discovery has probably been something of not me reading, but of Claire learning: she’s become a reader this year… and an excellent one at that, and we’ve been reading together lots of little simple books and stories. That said, if you consider such an answer a cop-out, I’ll tell you an awesome book I read over the summer was The Magicians by Lev Grossman, a kind of dark and grown up spin on Harry Potter and Narnia, worth a read if you’re looking for something interesting.
I struggled with this question for a while before I could answer it. And then I remembered something that was odd and interesting and meaningful all wrapped into one. I took a lot of photos this year, but to be honest what stood out the most was a handful of pics that were snapped of me as I dashed down a noisy Edmonton street one morning in August.
We were running our first marathon and one of my running pals, Chelsea, was spectating. She and her partner were on their bikes, chasing down people they knew, and snapping photos. I was on the short-list. And a few of the candid pics that resulted from something meaningful wrapped in something else meaningful was just an average snapshot of me trotting down some road, about twenty-eight klicks in at this point, and feeling wrapped in the support of my running friends. Awesome. (Sentimental, yes, but awesome.)
Thinking ten years in the past: reminisce. What do you recall or what event stand out most of all from your life and beyond in 2003?
Ten years ago life was very different. We got married ten years ago. Ten years ago we were still living in Burnaby in British Columbia. It was the year our apartment got robbed. It was the year our car broke down on the summit of the Coquihalla Highway, and we had to buy a new one. It was a year of long commutes and roller-blading through Vancouver. It was the year we went to Mexico for our honeymoon. It was my first real year with digital camera and of getting into abundant photography. We were young and crazy and broke, and living far away from where we grew up. And sometimes I miss it.
What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory because they made you…? And why?
a) happy: August 11, at the edge of a man-made lake at the south end of Calgary, wondering if perhaps me taking up running six year ago had a hand in (even just a little bit of competitive inspiration-wise) my little brother and my mother taking up the sport of triathlon, and as I was watching both of them finish thinking what an awesome set of role-models this family has become (as humbly as I can state that) for a trio of little kids growing up in a world where childhood obesity and the seemingly daunting lurk of lazy-kid-syndrome are defining factors of the age. When grandma can finish a triathlon, that’s gotta have a nearly-immeasurable impact on the little girls cheering her on from the sidelines.
b) sad: June 20, and a for a few days after, watching the impact on television and via friends who were directly touched by the flooding of Canmore, Calgary and High River. We had been to Calgary a few days earlier and while disasters seem to happen all the time, all over the world, the sadness is always and unavoidably a little bit far off, remote and removed until it hits somewhere — or somebody — more familiar.
c) angry: April 15, upon hearing about the Boston Marathon bombings. Being a runner myself it was a wash of emotions that something I had assumed would forever be an innocent thing full of pride and personal glories, was suddenly and for the foreseeable future to be tarnished with security, scrutiny, stricter rules, and of course the memory of spectators, supporters and volunteers marred, injured, and killed for no good reason.
d) defeated: May 11, when about three klicks into the 5-Peaks trail run in nearby Terwillegar Park, I rolled my ankle on a failed descent and an ill-placed tree route. I was just, barely, a few steps in (as it were) starting my gig as a marathon instructor, I had a whole summer of training ahead of me, and in a split second of lost focus I had suddenly injured myself. I finished the race… bad idea. I hobbled my way home… better idea. I iced. I wrapped. I elevated… much better idea. And stopped running… best idea. But for a few days there I thought — felt, feared, dreaded with the visions of failure swirling around everything else — that I had been defeated. Two weeks later I was back on the trails, but that could have easily gone south, fast.
e) victorious: August 25, for so many reasons, but not the least of which was the fact that I led nine people plus myself through sixteen weeks of gruelling summer marathon training that culminated in a race where everyone…. EVERY ONE of my clinic folks crossed that finish line. They raced it, of course: it was all them, every step. But somehow I felt accomplished and victorious in having participated just a little bit with each of them.
f) surprised: November 7, at parent-teacher interviews, to discover that my kid was ranking as one of the star pupils and seems to be thriving in grade one. Particularly surprising — and I don’t mean in a disbelief or shocked sort of way, more of a pleasantly and proudly surprised manner — was that her teacher selected Claire to stand up and give a presentation at an assembly (at which she kicked some serious back-side, by the way). Proud papa here.
What kind of plans or goals have you made for 2014 with regard to ___________? And why?
a) family – Paying a bit more attention, because I spent so much time training this past year, I think I’d better focus on my growing-up-too-fast little girl a bit more this year. Running will still happen, but the running will fit into the family schedule and not the other way around.
b) body – More running, of course. Having blown-out-of-the-water my distance goal for the year, I’m honing in on some larger, longer-term goals. As in, I have been writing again and setting some mega goals leading into 40. I wrote an article about it last night called: Brad’s Great Heritage Race… and it’s a doozy.
c) money – Giving more away. Thoughtfully and purposefully, of course. We’re doing fine, and there are lots of worthy causes out there. I’m not talking millions, but there are people who don’t have the advantages we have, and it’s time to share a bit more. That’s not permission to come calling though.
d) knowledge – More and less writing. Confused? I’ve taken my foot off the metaphorical pedal of pretending I’m trying to write a novel, but I’d like to focus a little bit more and maybe write something of a serious article or book that would force me to actually do research on a topic and flesh out an essay on something interesting. It’s hard to explain, but a sort of self-guided, quasi-masters in electic studies… but without a degree at the end. And then maybe do one for real in a year or two.
e) self – Reflective and introspective. Quite unexpectedly, hitting the ripe old age of 37 has made me somewhat more introspective… which is saying something for those who know me well. I accomplished a lot of goals this past year. I hit a lot of milestones. I had a good year. And the first month of 2014 is shaping up to be plum-full of more crazy and life-altering events. So, I think, jumping into 2014 with a bit more sense of the “who am I… and who do I want to be say, ten years from now? question seems apropos.
I look at where we are now and (maybe it’s just age) but the only two paths I see are either darker and scarier, ravaged by climate, scarcer resources, food security and domestic frustrations … or a world where we pretend to get along and have fixed some of the problems of today, but are somehow even more isolated by our technology. Optimist aren’t I? I look at this question as a father of a six year old. What will the world be like when Claire is sixteen? I want the best for her, but then that isn’t much in my control. Myself, I’ll be on the south side of my forties, steam-rolling towards fifty. Who knows where we’ll be in our careers… finances… life… There is virtually no chance that Sparkle will still be around: she’d be going on twenty, if she was and would need some sort of robotic body by then. My phone will probably be smaller and much smarter, if there is even a differentiation between that and a computer by then. Things will be more expensive, of course, but I’m not sure if we’ll have crossed into the realm of prohibitively expensive and everyday-things-as-luxuries, yet…. though I can’t help but think it’s coming. 3D printing seems to be big this year, and I wonder if that will go anywhere. The Internet will either be vastly bigger and faster… or it will have finally succumbed to economic and political pressures and will be just another corporate stronghold. And personally, we will have seen so many changes in our lives: friends and family, coming and going, lost and born, succeeding or failing in curious and complex ways we can’t even imagine right now… and probably wouldn’t want to if we could.
Explain a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
I’ve never been what you’d call a super-fan of improv comedy; You know the style, where the actors make it up as they go along, sometimes basing it of each other or sometimes creating via suggestions from the audience. My indifference or whatever-it’s-called aside, somewhere along the line I heard about an essential rule of improv comedy, true or not I can’t say but here it is: always say “yes.” Yes drives the plot forward while “no” grinds the plot to a screeching halt. Life isn’t improv, of course, but if I’ve learned anything this year –from getting pulled into the plot of teaching a marathon clinic and training for a crazy, dopey race, to the tale of volunteering to sit on certain committees, through to the assorted and various dramas that swirled through my professional and personal life– the lesson is to always (well, almost always) say yes. Yes. Yes lures the opportunities from the plot. Yes swirls the drama in interesting directions. Yes drives the plot forward. If you want to know why I think I had a great year, it’s because (whether intentionally or just due to blind pig-headedness) I said –sure, why-not, count-me-in, I’ll-do-it — YES an awful lot.
Some day you’ll look back and ask about a time when cool and interesting things happened to us, and you’ll hear the year 2013 tossed around quite frequently.
I mean, I hope we haven’t peaked. I hope. But 2013 was filled with interesting stories, challenges, changes, and milestones. It seems like the type of year we’ll be talking about for a while.
One quote that sums up your 2013 is:
“I don’t know who put this together, but this is brilliant. This is your message.” — the executives, holding up my executive summary of my project work at an executive meeting, the result of a year of my blood, sweat and tears (almost literally.)
One word that sums up your theme for 2014 is: