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Joseph E Bird

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youth

First Place

Of the top five finishers in the 5K this morning, one had run 8 miles before the race. Another had run 13 miles.

I was doing well to get out of bed and drive to the race just a half mile from my house.

The winners’ times were fast, these young men in their man-buns and the sleek bodies of youth, who are not even bothering with water as they stroll easily along the sidewalk, not even out of breath, because they finished 6 minutes before I did and have already cooled down, as I labor to the finish line, feeling like a runner, but knowing that I’m just another old guy, old being anyone over 25, because anyone over 25 is just a pretender and not even an afterthought to those who run in the fast lane of youth.

So I won my age group.  First place, the little trophy cup says. So what. Who cares.

I care a little. Because I made myself get out of bed. I made myself run those 4 miles on Wednesday when I didn’t really feel like it.  And the speed work on Monday, which is ridiculous and serves no purpose other than to satisfy my ego. And the 7 1/2 miles last Sunday that I don’t have to do.  But there’s something gratifying about being out on the road in the early morning by yourself, and wanting to quit after a couple of miles while you still feel good, but enjoying the morning so much that you just keep pushing until your legs become weak and a little wobbly but you have to push on because you just can’t quit because you have to push on.  Because you have to push on.

And because of all of that, there’s a little cup that says First Place that means nothing to anybody but me.

Youth.

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GIVE THANKS for the blessings of youth. It’s good to remember the old days, to think about those on whose shoulders we stand, who made us who we are today. To look back at all the grainy black and white photos.

But there is pure joy in youth and in witnessing the cycle of life.

The newborn crying one moment, and wide-eyed with wonder the next.

The toddler taking those first precarious steps.

Then there’s the challenge of adolescence. Maybe we’ll just skip over that. But all that angst makes us who we are.

And then the flower blossoms fully. It’s a sight to behold.

The photo is of Hannah, my niece.  I could have chosen any of my nieces. Or nephews, for that matter. They all represent the best of life. But this is a great picture. Absolute contentment in the moment.

Here’s hoping we can all find that peace wherever we are and in whatever we do.

 


 

By the way, Hannah is the pre-teen deftly balancing a piece of cake while helping my mother on rollerblades.  Photo credit (I think) goes to Hannah’s brother Micah, an award-winning filmmaker. Micah is the toddler in the crazy shorts also helping my mother.

Knock knock.

r and l 1 15
My mother’s first — and last — time on rollerblades.  

When was the last time you went roller skating?

When was the last time you ran?

When was the last time you rode a bike?

When was the last time you threw a ball?

When was the last time you swung on a swing?

When was the last time you danced?

When was the last time you told a knock-knock joke?

When was the last time you flirted with someone?

When was the last time you watched Bugs Bunny?

When was the last time you flew a kite?

When was the last time you did a somersault?

Pick one.

Do it.

While you can.

Gliding over the miles.

Along the road, on the shoulder.
Her strides are even
Her pace is steady
She is young, in her prime,
and I envy her energy.

Along the road, on the shoulder.
Her hair bundled together
bounces from one side to the other.
Of course she catches my eye.
She’s a confident athlete.

Along the road, on the shoulder.
She dodges a pothole with a stutter step
and then she’s running again.
She’s so relaxed
And makes it all seem effortless.

Along the road, on the shoulder.
She’s a runner, not a jogger.
She’ll get taunts and catcalls
But she’ll keep running.
Because it’s all about the running.

My prime is a memory as I run
along the road, on the shoulder.
yet there are those days when my
strides are long
and my pace is quick
and time is a myth
and I run as she runs
gliding over the miles
as if
I could run
forever.


copyright 2017, joseph e bird

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