January 25, 2016

Always Expanding

I was running today and the smell of my shirt took me back to Freshman year in high school. It was a light scent of stale sweat, and it reminded me of the stench of the t-shirt I wore under my pads and football practice jersey. Sometimes that shirt would sit in my locker for days, and because I have never been much of a sweater it was never unbearable, but after a few days it would be rank enough to warrant a washing. Not sure why my shirt today brought back that smell today, as it was just washed and I had just begun my run.

Whatever the reason, after a quick whiff I was thinking about that Freshman football team, and how for some reason I thought that donning pads over my eighty-four pound frame was a good idea. I did not join the team for the love of the game, at the time I knew very little about how to play. No, I chose the team because I felt it was my ticket to being noticed and liked in High School. The cheerleaders, the jerseys, the rallies- it all felt so necessary at the time.

Upon reflection it would have been much better for me to hitch my wagon to the band geeks, drama freaks, stoners and weirdos, but it was a game time decision in grade eight to sign up to be a member of the San Rafael Dawgs team. So I signed up and never looked back.

It would have helped that first year if I could catch, was more agile, weighed at least forty more pounds, was athletic or if I was fast or strong.

But despite, or maybe because of my tiny frame, I learned the game quickly. I could never really catch or run a decent pattern, but if I was asked to throw my body in front of a running back or receiver I felt no fear. I found the feeling of running full speed into another moving human being, no matter what difference in their size to mine, thrilling. Football to me became trying to stop large fast moving boys as they came right at me. Sometime I did. Usually I didn’t. But that never stopped me from trying. Since I never played any games that year, I spent the majority of the time as a living tackling dummy. Lurking in the back field during practice, like some kind of living tackling dummy;  I waited for an escaping back, and threw myself at him.  

I played three more years. Eventually I played JV as a junior. We were all too small to play on the Varsity team so we stayed on the JV team. That was the season I actually played. I started every game as a strong safety, special teams and even ran the ball a few times. I remember one game when I had an interception on the forty five and as I approached the opposing team’s fifteen, and started planning my end zone dance, I was pushed out of bounds, depriving me of my only chance at a touchdown.

Today as I ran and smelled the stench of my running shirt, I thought about the ole football days as a Bulldawg. I sprinted a bit faster, determined to make it into that end zone this time.

Andrew​, a guy I knew from HS who I have not seen for years, but actually have become pretty good friends on Facebook, shared a photo from Mount Tamalpais the other day that got me thinking about how much I love that mountain and what a special place it has always been in my life. For those of you not from Marin, Mt. Tam is a mountain and state park on the northern side of San Francisco, and it was a place I spent quite a bit of time when I lived in Marin as an adult.

I had just come back from San Diego and was living with Anthony Van Moppes on Fourth street. I was taking classes at College of Marin and had very little idea of who I was or what I wanted. I don’t remember too many classes from that time, other than some speech class that I was into, but I do remember that on many days I would be on my way to class and would choose to go to Mt. Tam instead.

The time alone on that mountain felt much more important to my education than sitting in some classroom earning credits. I would hike the dense forests or find large wide open plateaus of rolling wheat coloured grass and watch the fog swallow the entire Bay. I spent hours not seeing another soul. I slept. I read or scribbled nonsense and poorly scribed poetry into a journal.

I was reading Kerouac and Kesey at the time. Henry Miller was teaching me about the lack of ambition and a passion for art and solitude and sloth. That mountain felt like the perfect stage for my growth. I was testing the limits of my consciousness and discovering that no matter how far I pushed I couldn’t  seem to find the edges. The universe both within and without was limitless and always expanding.

I can’t wait to spend at least a day on Mount Tam this summer when I am home and to show off this magical place to my girls.


Later on my run, as the sun was setting and I was making my way past the ocean waves, I saw two men in the water. They were sitting in the surf. Their legs in the small gentle waves, their torsos exposed- out of the water. What was unusual about this scene was that the middle-aged men were hugging, snuggling, and kissing.

Singapore is not known for being gay friendly or even tolerant, but it made happy to think that whatever the LGBT rights are on the books in Singapore, these two men felt safe enough to frolic on the beach on Monday night. It gave me hope that even in a place where homosexual sex is still illegal, these two men did not feel deterred to express their love. it was a fleeting moment of hope and I was happy for them.

I ran home smiling.

Lesson Learned:

  • Everything from our past is a piece of the puzzle that we are becoming. 
  • There are place in the planet that speak to our souls. Find those places and cherish them. 
  • Despite evidence to the contrary, maybe we are evolving and moving toward a more loving, free, and progressive society. 

  1. Share a small High School memory. 
  2. Where is a place in the world that you find special? 
  3. What are some things you have noticed that give you hope for the world? 

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