Genius and crazy are snuggly bed partners. Cracked.com said it best with “Is it possible to be too smart? Maybe. History is full of insane geniuses, humans who mentally put the pedal to the metal — and sometimes through the floor.”1 I am, unfortunately, neither. However, I do get ideas stuck in my head that aren’t easily dismissed. Shit just gets stuck to you, and no matter how hard you shake your shoe, it just won’t come off.
There are a number of mental fur balls that I have attempted to write on, but I have never gotten very far in completing. This post is an effort to group them together in what I call “Short Takes.”
My Dad the Bad-Ass:
This is him at 70. He is retired from the Army. He did two combat tours in Vietnam. A couple of years ago a horse fell on him2 and broke his pelvis. You cannot put a cast on a pelvis, you have to sit around and let it heal. Within months, he was back riding. My Dad is not scared of horses, he is a real horse whisper. He can literally talk any horse into doing anything he says. People bring their wild and uncontrollable horses to him, my Dad breaks these horses… he breaks them mentally and physically. At 60, he backpacked up the Chisos Mountains3 with me… I was 30 and a Captain in the Army. I didn’t have to wait for him, he made those mountains his bitch. My Dad can do anything he makes up his mind to do. One day while working in his barn, my Dad decided to quit smoking after 30 years… he hasn’t smoked since. My Dad is a Bad-Ass.
Golfing and Zen:
Larry David in The New Yorker said it best “Finally, after years of pain and struggle, I had accepted the fact that I would never be a good golfer.” This acceptance of golfing inability is as close as to Nirvana as I am going to get. My best round was an 88 last year on a resort course in Maryland, the day before I shot my usual 100. I didn’t realize I was having such a good round until Rob, my standard golfing partner, informed me on hole 16 how well I was doing. I had entered a zone where I wasn’t paying attention to my swing, my putts, or anything… I was just playing golf and enjoying Rob’s company. I have taken lessons and played a lot of golf since 1994. I have, in physic-defying ways, made golf balls disappear. I have plunked balls in water, lodged them in the branches of trees, and seen them disappear under fairway turf due to extremely wet conditions. I don’t care anymore. Golf is about being outside and enjoying the company of friends. Golf is not a sport or struggle for me, golf is a way I enjoy my life. I pay way too much money on golf to allow it to be an aggravation. Golf is best played when not thinking. Hit the damn ball and move on down the fairway. Everyday above ground chasing after a tiny-ass white ball is a good one.
Like golf, I run to remind myself about the joys of living… oh, and I hate being fat. Actually, I should call this “Running and Eating.” I love to eat, thus I have to run. The more I run, the more I can eat.4 Once upon a time I weighed 200lbs. That is a lot of damn weight to carry on a 5’7 foot frame, granted each of my calves weigh 50lbs apiece. Running is where I get to ignore everything else and listen to myself breathing heavily and free my mind of all the garbage that has taken root there. Running is taking out the trash. Running allows me to be free. I used to think I was a jogger until I realized that work and running are the only two things I schedule. Joggers don’t organize the calendars around jogs, joggers take advantage of a few openings here and there. I may not be fast and I may be a huge sweaty beast as I move along on the run… but I am running. I wish I had started running earlier in my life, but it took an enlistment in the Army to show me the joys of running… and that wasn’t enough to stop me from sitting on my ass from 2001-2008. Now I am older, but not wiser, and I find running is my meditation. Any day above ground running is a good day.
Travel and Beer:
If I am there and they sell beer, I am buying and drinking that beer. I have consumed beer in Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and Central America. I love beer. I always finish my beer before leaving, even if the beer tastes awful. I have tasted very few beers that were truly awful. One of the best beers I have had was from Sweden and fermented/stored inside a cedar tree. One of the greatest moments in my life was drinking a Kazakh beer on the southern Siberian steppes. Supposedly Ben Franklin said that “Beer is proof God loves us.”5 Beer and I go way back to my youth and college. A common refrain I say is “I have thrown up more beer up than most people have drunk.” That isn’t pretty but I am pretty sure it is accurate. I love to travel, but I love beer more.
None of these short takes were really connected, but I was tired of them clogging my brain. I ran 5 miles today, so I won’t feel bad when I go home and have a few beers.
1. The article then describes in great hilarity 7 eccentric geniuses.
2. Literally, it reared up and came back onto him as he remained in the saddle. A fucking horse fell on him.
3. The Chisos Mountains are in Big Bend National Park, Texas, and the only mountain range completely inside a single national park.
4. Oddly, the more I run the less hungry I am… I guess I am one of those dumbasses who uses food to compensate for other shit. The running replaces the eating for comfort.
5. Actually he said, in a letter addressed to Andre Morellet in 1779, “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”