Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is This Where Sausage Comes From?

Today was a "run" day (one day on, one day off in an effort to keep my knees alive until I complete my 45th trip around the sun). Off I went this morning, running a 5K as part of my preparation for Sunday's Race for the Cure. I was half surprised, half disappointed when I completed my jaunt Monday morning in 31:16. Imagine my reaction this morning when I arrived home in 31:19. I am happy that the Race is Sunday. Given the manner in which my prep work is going, if it was another three weeks away, I would be on a pace to run it in 60:00 or so.

My upside down advancement momentarily made me think of the Billy Joel song "Running on Ice" - a lyrical testament to getting nowhere as fast as one can. But as I was standing in the kitchen this morning, post-run, contemplating "WWKKD" (What Would Kip Keino Do?) I thought not of what had just happened this morning but - rather - a conversation that Margaret and I had last evening with Suzanne. And I realized upon further reflection that my "problem" was not actually one.

Suzanne is an incredibly gifted young woman. Her mind works at a speed that mine cannot even fully appreciate - simply because I do not even have that gear in my clutch box. The beauty of that for her is that her appetite for knowledge is insatiable and is matched in perfect harmony by her ability to comprehend. It truly is a wonder to behold. Hell, I became a lawyer in large part because it is an occupation I can spell. My daughter is working her way through a Master's Degree in a discipline I can neither spell nor pronounce. Me, the dopey dad, tells anyone who asks (and because I am so proud of her anyone who happens to be waiting in the line at the Starbucks or the newsstand in front of, in back of or anywhere near me for more than 15 seconds) that she is pursuing a career in speech language pathology and audiology.

It is, of course, far more nuanced than that. When she completes doing what it is she is doing she will have such a multitude of initials and letters behind her name on her letterhead for the rest of her life that when you receive a piece of mail from her it shall be hard to resist the temptation to cover one eye and read aloud from left to right.

The process is draining and some days in the battlefield are better for her than others. She is her mother's daughter, which means that she wears her emotions out there on her sleeve for all the world to see. And while that is not a bad thing, in the dog-eat-dog world of advanced academia and competitive altruism into which she has plunged herself it is not necessarily a good thing either.

It is the cynical bastard in me no doubt (I view indigestion as him simply knocking on my stomach walls asking to be allowed out) that permits me to have a jaundiced view of the world - and most especially of my fellow bi-peds. It is also what taught me years ago, while never sitting down at a table and flopping or going down the river or whatever hell it is that one does while contemplating folding 'em or holding 'em, that the most important attribute that one takes into battle as one embarks on one's day-to-day is the poker face. Human beings are animals. Animals are creatures of habit. If one who has a point of view or an interest adverse to you - or simply does not like you (that may not happen to you but believe it or not that has happened to me - stunning I know!) - knows that by pushing Button "A" they will cause you to have a particular reaction, then it would serve you well to understand that they will continue to push that button.

Like it or not, part of what we do in our daily life is probe one another's defenses for weaknesses - whether ones that we can take advantage of at present or ones that we recognize and file away for future reference. We all have weaknesses. We are human after all. Our DNA is flawed (do not shoot the messenger. All my namesake did was bite the damned apple. If a good-looking, naked chick offered you free snacks, what would you do?). The key - again from my jaundiced view of the world around me - is to minimize them - to hide them from view to the extent we can.

Suz's frustration is palpable - on occasions - and I know it because she cannot hide it. And while I know a bit of it comes from dealing with day-to-day life in this arena of her choosing, I know that the overwhelming majority of it comes from within. Sometimes my brilliant daughter - for all of her immense intellect - fails to heed the most important teaching of the equally brilliant philosopher Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." She forgets to breathe. And she forgets to let the world around her breathe.

All of which brings me back to me standing in the kitchen this morning, post-run, contemplating the failings of my run and considering a cause of action against the Timex people - it is their damn watch after all that I wear when I run. I realized in my own pique of frustration that absence of similar DNA notwithstanding, Suz is this old man's daughter and both of us could use the same advice. It will be alright if we just inhale deeply. We can afford to lose a day or two.

Crazy children, both of us. But doing OK just the same.


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