Sunday, September 11, 2011

Victory and Defeat, Then and Now

Yesterday was our first soccer game. I knew we were in for trouble when the other coach told me his team has been together for 3 seasons. The only two players on my team who have played in the past are my two girls, and they aren't exactly world beaters. The kids tried hard and never gave up, so that was good to see, but its tough when they just don't listen. I guess I'll have to start making them run laps in practice. Its a good thing we don't keep score. After practice the girls had a birthday party to go to and I let the sting of defeat go with a nice nap.

The victory came this morning, when I went out and did my first non-stop 20 minute run. I was a little nervous about it and I couldn't decide whether to run on the treadmill or outside. The race isn't on a treadmill though, so I decided to run outside. I went to the same park where I had to give up my run 2 weeks ago because its near the house and has a nice nature trail as well as the paved trail. I really felt great through the whole run. I kept the pace slow and steady. There was very little discomfort in my legs outside of what I'd expect from running and when the time was up I think I could have gone a little longer. In the end, I think I ran almost a mile and a half, because I ran the nature trail twice and the paved trail once. I stretched after and my legs, though  a little stiff and tired, felt pretty pain free most of the day. This gives me a lot of hope for the race in three weeks.  I may not be able to run the whole way, but I'm sure I'll be able to get by with minimal walk breaks.

When I got back from my run it was about 8:30 and I flipped on the TV to see some of the 9/11 memorial from ground zero. I broke down as I watched families read the names of their lost loved ones, some children who were younger than my girls on that day. For my generation the 9/11 attack is our "know where you were" moment, like Pearl Harbor for our Grandparents and the Kennedy Assassination for our parents. Today, though, I didn't think about where I was, but instead I thought about who I was. The life I led 10 years ago bears very little semblance to who I am today. I was unproductive, untrustworthy and unmotivated, working as a waiter and bartender and barely caring about a future farther away than the next party. Any good poker player knows that there is a sucker at every table, and if you don't know who that sucker is, then its you. Every group of friends has the one person who nobody really likes, and I realized later that I was that guy with my friends. I was sitting at a football game several weeks later when the President announced that they had started bombing in Afghanistan. 70,000 people started cheering. Cheering that more people were dying. I sat there aghast at the reaction and wondered what those same people would have said if there had been news of a soccer stadium in Saudi Arabia or Yemen that erupted in cheering at the news of the 9/11 attacks. It was at that moment that I decided that I could no longer live my life as a selfish asshole.

The thing that strikes me the most about those days personally is that I never cried. I sat there watching thousands of people dying on live tv and though I was stunned I never cried. I lived less than 90 miles from NYC at the time, spent the next several days making sandwiches to be delivered to those working there, but as I watched the horror that was going on around me, I never cried.  It was only a few months later that I left NJ for Florida and decided to grow up. This morning, as I watched those families read the names, I cried. I cried thinking about how at that time in my life, I'd done nothing of worth, and these people who had families were slaughtered. I cried thinking about the way my daughters look at me, and how painful it would be to have that torn asunder. And I cried thinking about how many other lives have been lost since that day, in lands far from here, both American and others. I'm really glad that I've grown enough emotionally to cry.

In order to make myself a better person I had to stop being an ass. I had to stand up and say "I will do the right things right, I will work instead of play, I will grow up."

In order to end the cycle of violence, someone has to stop killing, someone has to stand up and say "not another life will be extinguished." I hope that happens soon.

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