Reflections from the looking glass

Yesterday, son was running around the house holding a mirror in front of his face exclaiming that he could see everything. I guess when we look in the mirror, we do in fact see what reality looks like. Sort of. Most of us have warped self-images: too tall, too short, too fat. When we close our eyes and see ourselves sometimes we have a negative self-perception. Setting and achieving goals can make that mirror reflect the person you want to be.

On Thanksgiving Day, 2004, I ran in the Atlanta Marathon. It was a blistering 38deg yet sunny outside. Daughter was wrapped in tights, two layers of clothes and a warm winter jacket. I, of course, was dressed in shorts and a long-sleeve technical shirt. Lesson one: Check the forecast BEFORE you show up to Turner Field at 5AM. I ran the race right on pace until, UNTIL, I hit mile 21. At that point, there is a steep hill oft called “Cardiac Hill”. Well, cramping set in, and I was forced to walk/run for several miles until I could get my legs moving again. The magic came as I rounded the Georgia State Capitol Building and saw a long downhill that ran under the 1996 Olympic Rings. As I crossed the finish line, I was in full stride as family and friends encouraged me with cheers and adulations.

Fast forward five years: I can barely walk and must use a cane to get around. I put on weight, felt terrible about myself and didn’t see a bright future. I wrote recently about my struggles in 2011 (see This past weekend, I ran the Eleven Lake Oconee Triathlon and broke the barriers that were holding me back. As I finished in just over two hours, wife was cheering me on again and I realized, I am happy.

Things still annoy me; kids and wife may get on my nerves but everything feels downhill from here. I love seeing the absolutely positive outlook son has on his face over life’s simplest things: A cookie at Kroger, a 79cent “pusher truck”. Daughter is focused on doing her best at dance. She practices all the time, often tap dancing to footloose in the family room. Yeah, THAT can get kinda annoying. Wife works hard. I have now set new goals to achieve.

In science fiction, writers frequently suggest that mankind will be the author of its own destruction. Daughter stresses about the resources being used by society today and has become totally part of the “Green” movement. Son could care less. Either way, I don’t buy it. The only way man will play a role in his destruction is if he gives up hope. I thought I had, but now I realize it was only a stepping stone to get where I need to be.

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