Friday, April 29, 2011

Guns At Fifty

In fifth grade you don’t do ‘Guns at fifty paces, ’you race fifty yards. The memory still stings like a lead musket ball. We raced for honour and Susan Bronson. I am doubtful that in fifth grade we knew what either of those meant.

Erik had thrown down the gauntlet. At high noon, aka, lunch time, we would race for Susan. There we stood atop yellow lines painted on blacktop. The heat waves radiating from the tar, the pink bungalows in the distance, the small crowd of students standing still….waiting and watching.

I should not have worn long pants that day. Forty years later and I still don’t accede Erik the victory based on being faster. But won it he did. What would have changed if I had won that day? I wonder about that.

I wonder what would have happened if I had kissed Dawn McD when she made me that paper necklace in 3rd grade; “Kiss me, I love you.” Dawn went on to become a cheerleader in high school. I played violin in orchestra. Similarly I was surprised when at my 20 year high school reunion Amy told me that her interest in me went beyond the hours that I tutored her in English.

As a teen I’d resolved to live my life to the fullest. The principle reason was a poem I’d cut out of the church paper, “…wondering what would have happened if you had truly dared to be alive.” So I’d resolved to live without having to ask, “What if?”

My youth was concerned with girls and sating the hole in my soul. As I grew up I fleshed out this principle. Maturing widened broadened and brought healthier application to live life more aggressively.

Each of us screens decisions through a filter. Most are reactive, few are deliberate. A key component of my decision making grid is to make choices that add adventure and spice. Some will say, “That is how you are wired!” Au contraire. My default position is—be safe. I would rather retreat than risk hurt. I easily succumb to the “paralysis of analysis.” Daring to be alive is a tenet that drives me into a fuller life.

A famous coach once said of training that the process consists of, “buffet(ing) my body and making it my slave.” Let us be deliberate in our decision making. For the sprints and for the long haul.