Commemorative Coins

There has been some joking around work about the gold coin being sent out by our company to all the employees to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the business. We don\’t know what to do with a gold coin. We\’d rather have t-shirts. But, it is a German company which treats the rest of the world like lesser beings. So….

But, I got an insight. I have 2 other coins which do mean something to me. I realized that my company wishes to stand by these other valuable associations; and gold is the best way they could think of to cause me to consider the company in the same terms.

The other 2 coins? One is a Benedictine medal and my time in the monastery had a dramatic effect on my life. The other is my AA anniversary coin, which I get a new one every year I\’m sober. Obviously, 28 years of sobriety has effected my life.

I will grant my employer equal status.

To put it in perspective, I took a picture of 4 commemorative coins I have on hand. The fourth one I got what I finished the 10th Seabrook marathon. It doesn\’t mean alot to me, but I realize that keeping a race going for 10 years means alot to the organizers, enough to get these coins made for all the finishers.

So, I honor anyone who honors themself. The coin is just a way of communicating the value of long term achievement. Personal character does go into building a long term achievement. I respect that.

ACIM Forgiveness

I am always saying that A Course in Miracles (ACIM) defines common terms differently. One of them is forgiveness. Here in the ordinary world, we think of forgiveness as knowing someone is guilty but letting them off the hook. ACIM says it looking beyond.

But ACIM forgiveness gives students tons of trouble actually understanding it and doing it. And doing it or practicing it is key to ACIM. So, I\’ve been studying for 6 years. Now, here is a moment of clarity I had around this term yesterday.

I was driving through Wyoming listening to an NPR story about a woman who is priestess to the white lions in South Africa. I won\’t go into whatever it means to be a priestess to white lions. What I was thinking is how everyone has a task. Some people have fantastic tasks like being priestess to white lions. Some people have tasks which make us highly jealous. Some have \”special\” tasks that seem to make them better than everyone else. But most of us seem to have ordinary daily life. Then suddenly it clicked for me that all our tasks are equally needed.

My task appears very non-special. I work and run. But I know that I am at work metaphysically because the non-material side of my life is at least conscious; something I actively work at. And I realized that all our tasks are really one task in content but different in form.

And here is where I clearly understood what ACIM forgiveness means. If I know that everyone has a task, and that when I interact with them, I am helping them with their task and they are helping me with my task, then forgiveness has happened. Well, the whole Course in Miracles is completed in that instant of interaction. But it is also true that physical presence is not necessary.

I find it completely possible to walk the face of the earth helping others with their task. With that frame of reference, my life is not about going to work to earn money and retire and die. It doesn\’t have anything to do with whether I have a \”special\” task, or wrote a book, or was a guru. I just help others with their task.

Chapter 17.V – Fantastic

I get it: Some monks are explicit. They live in a monastery. My life is implicitly monastic; hidden behind a veil of worldly life.

This morning, I rode my elliptical with my eyes closed, chanting my ACIM phrases to a monastic melody I learned in the convent. Then I went outside for a sweaty jog, and continued to chant.

Inspired by A Course in Miracles 17.V:
Do not breathe life into your failing ego.
You have chosen but the goal of God.
Accept with gladness what\’s not understood.

I thought about my failing ego in several areas of my life. I though about how my upcoming 12 hour race could be so ego deflating if I stick to walking. I thought about how I see a 24 hour race as walking through the dark night in order to achieve a dawn, a sunrise. I want to walk through the dark night. But I realized how it is a human failing to think we can\’t achieve a dawn without a dark  night.

In A Course in Miracles, we have \”this holy instant.\” We immediately shorten the path in this holy instant. The holy instant in Christ; no crucifixion required. Salvation is already here.

United Airlines

I really wonder. What is the deal?

I wanted to change a trip I have. I know they have a large fee to change. So I just bought another ticket for what I wanted. I then called them and said, I won\’t be on that flight. Would you cancel it so someone else can get on it?

Their answer was: oh no. Just don\’t show up. We\’ll credit you with the amount of the flight.

Some how this works in their favor beyond me buying another ticket. Are flights all so overbooked? Do they never show a flight as full? What if the flight shows full, but if they took me off, one spot would open up?

I find this to be poor customer service and an activity that only makes us hate United Airlines more than we already do.

Anyway, business travel aside, I am slowly discontinuing trips which require air travel. Except for Southwest, I find all airlines very annoying.

On the other hand, I am highly excited to be me and have 2 out of town races coming up in the next 3 weeks.

Sweat

Today was another memorable sweatfest in Brummerhop Park. I got 16.4 miles of slow jog in between 9 am and 1 pm. My shoes were sopping wet I sweat so much. I drank 70 oz of water. When I came home I didn\’t feel well.

But you know? I love it. I like being out there sweating. Yes, it is Houston in August. There is a ton more humidity than I ever even thought about when I was in Missouri. But looking back on it, I realize I relish the hours walking or slow jogging in that heat.

I\’m not the only one out there either.

Nothing much was on my mind. Well, except my upcoming races in Wyoming and Missouri. But, the 3,100 mile Self Transcendence race is over for another year. My anniversaries are over for another year. What is left if the daily focus: study ACIM, silent thought, exercise, AA on the weekends. But, try not to distract from God too much. Realize this world holds no lasting satisfaction. It is the spiritual reality which I cherish.

Choose the Spark of Beauty

This.

This morning, I was studying chapter 17.IV in A Course in Miracles text. Here is the part that inspired me: \”Let Him [Holy Spirit] uncover the spark of beauty in your relationships, and show it to you…It is still up to you to choose to join with truth or with illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose you will endow you with beauty and reality, because the choice depends on which you value more…the spark of beauty or the veil of ugliness…\”

I thought about how I didn\’t hate my boss this week and how many people texted me on my anniversary. I decided to allow the love that had been present; which is to choose the spark of beauty I had been shown.

After this, did I become insane? Here\’s my story.

Earlier this week, I got an e-mail about a new 24 hour event in Houston in December. (I went in a 50k there last year). So, I would really like to walk 24 hours. And my new shoe design might allow for a \”Kinhin\” Zen walk for 24 hours. I\’m after the meditation side, not the distance side mind you. I mentioned it to a guy at work. He said he\’d be happy to hand me cups of water and drive my butt home. (Transportation could be an issue after being up all night.)

This morning was my usual Saturday struggle to get out of bed. The only reason to get up early is to run before temps rise above 90F. As a walker however, it doesn\’t really matter. So I slept until 7. Then, I did my spiritual study, prayed about the December 24 hour run. I heard rumbles outside, but I decided to go for a short walk in El Lago and test the shoe.

The first 50 feet out the door, I\’m thinking I\’ll drop down to the half marathon for the Nebraska race in 3 weeks. See, the modified shoe won\’t work in Nebraska on a hilly dirt course. Depressing.

50 feet later, another thought shot across my mind. Well, you could go to St Louis since you are already entered in that 12 hour run.

I shook my fist at the sky. \”G-d dammit, that is the exact opposite thought from what I wanted!\”

During the first mile of my walk in El Lago, I saw the faint trace of a rainbow. An omen? Was God speaking? It poured on me twice during the first 2 hours; but since this is Houston in August, it is always at least 80F. If you get wet, no big deal.

I thought about the 12 hour race in St Louis. It makes a ton of sense. Before dreaming of a 24 hour race, why not see how 12 hours go? And the course in Fenton (St Louis) is perfect for my shoe. The driving is about the same as if I went to Nebraska. I already know some people who will be walking in Fenton. No time pressure for a 12 hour time period. It fits the scope of meditative walking (not racing).

So, crap. I think I\’ll go to Fenton.

Today, I walked 4 hours in my shoe. I came home once to modify it and finally stopped at 4 hours cuz I needed to modify again and I realized that the thicker sock was tearing up one of my little toes. Fang (one of the heel spurs) was quiet today. The only problem was the back of the shoe heel wasn\’t short enough and kept banging into the bottom of my heel and hurting it (4 hours of that really was enough). So, I have 3 weeks to get the shoe right. I don\’t even have to decide for sure until that week so I can shift my hotels around. But, I think Fenton will be much better for me.

I\’ll try again with the shoe tomorrow.

Epic Win

I have a retrocalcaneal heel spur. This means that the back of any shoe pushes my achilles tendon against a sharp line of calcium build up. It hurts.

So, about 2 weeks ago, I got an idea. I\’ve been experimenting with the idea. Today, I proclaimed the idea a winner.

Its not for anyone who wants to run fast, or on trails; but for a jogger like me, it works great.

Here it is: the pain free Haglund\’s shoe.

Yes, it is missing a portion of heel right where the greatest pain is. But still enough heel that if you want to stick a Dirty Girls gaiter over the opening, you can. But on paved roads, no issue. I wear thick socks and lace up tight. The shoe doesn\’t come off.

Brummerhop Park

Brummerhop is a very tiny park. But much of it is tree shaded. That is why I spend so much time there in the summer. So, the long jog yesterday went well. Today, I did another 2 hour jog. My heel doesn\’t feel too bad. Good news. I\’m starting to think that the massive pain from last weekend was caused by running on the concrete bridge.

Jogging in Brummerhop could be eternal. That is, if you are there often enough and long enough, you lose track of where you are. Time loses its meaning and you just are.

I came home and again waited for Mr AC to show up. Finally…..he came and the AC is ready for another year.

I think I might go ride my bike around El Lago for afternoon exercise.

Done Deal

Actually, I finally realized the deal was done long ago. I just hadn\’t fully realized or accepted it.

Today is my 9/80 Friday off. So the first thing that happened is that I slept in. Then, I had a leisurely period of spiritual study. In fact I am in chapter 16.VII of A Course in Miracles text. Here is a little bit of what I read which possibly could be understood by a non-course student.

\”Do not underestimate the intensity of the ego’s drive for vengeance on the past. It is completely savage and completely insane. For the ego remembers everything you have done that has offended it, and seeks retribution of you. The fantasies it brings to its chosen relationships in which to act out its hate are fantasies of your destruction. For the ego holds the past against you, and in your escape from the past it sees itself deprived of the vengeance it believes you so justly merit. Yet without your alliance in your own destruction, the ego could not hold you to the past. In the special relationship you are allowing your destruction to be. That this is insane is obvious. But what is less obvious is that the present is useless to you while you pursue the ego’s goal as its ally….Against the ego’s insane notion of salvation the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant. We said before that the Holy Spirit must teach through comparisons, and uses opposites to point to truth. The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past. In the holy instant it is understood that the past is gone, and with its passing the drive for vengeance has been uprooted and has disappeared. The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness. Everything is gone except the truth.\”

I pondered \”destruction\” and \”hate fantasies\” and the \”holy instant\”. I was able to disgorge some nasty thoughts which were quietly playing in my mind and give these to whatever spiritual power there is.

Then I read Uptal\’s Perfection Journey blog. http://perfectionjourney.org/  I was inspired by the stories of the runners.

Then I loaded up my water bottles and headed to Brummerhop park intending just to walk laps for awhile. Quite quickly I got to my revelation about \”Done Deal.\” I remembered the fateful day near the Jaffa Gate in old Jerusalem. I was 22 or so. I was watching a couple of Hassidic men in fur hats and beards and ear locks walk into the Via Delarosa. I had a tiny thought, \”If they are willing to dress like that, there must be something to this God thing.\”

I was not a meditator at the time, so it is amazing that I noticed that one little thought. Except that I instantly answered yes. In that moment, I became a God seeker and nothing has since been able to knock me off track. So, in the religious sense, it was in that moment that I became married to the God quest. I didn\’t really need monastic profession to validate the commitment. It is a done deal. I said I do, or I will, and that is that.

It was jogging in super hot, super humid, small and secret Brummerhop park today that I finally realized the truth of my being. Doing laps in Brummerhop park is an existential activity. It is the equal of sitting on a cushion or attending Mass. All is communion.

Nothing needs to be added to anyone to achieve holiness. It is merely a matter of saying yes and accepting conscious contact with a higher power. I said yes long ago and the practice of conscious contact has never abated.