No New Year’s Resolution comes from a place of strength. New Year’s resolutions have backstory, and that backstory is usually filled with a certain amount of trial and error that is tragically dominated by the error. It’s from a place of struggle that we derive these yearly promises of growth. It’s from a place of shameful longing that we endeavor to torture ourselves, year-after-year, with the hope a better self. Would be that we succeed; it would be shocking, would it not? Don’t we secretly laugh and doubt every resolution that crosses our desk, like some veto-happy legislator striking down each proposal for a better world?
The cynic in me shakes his head at the New Year’s Resolution as if it’s something to be pitied.
But the cynic in me must die.
When I was young, I was what people politely call “husky.” In truth, I was a lumbering ogre of a boy without the charisma or self-confidence to keep myself away from my cynical predilection. I was an uninspired loaf who preferred sandwiches to social events, solitude to significance, and sitting to standing (literally and figuratively).
I played sports as a child, but only sports where my size was an advantage. I was taller than most, so I played basketball, I weighed more than most, so I played football, and I could throw things hard and far, so I played baseball. However, when I tried to play soccer… I met my match. In an aside to my parents, my coach ventured to say, “he doesn’t really like to run, does he?”
Like to run? Was he joking? Not only did I not like to run, I believe my younger self thought running would induce death or seizure. I couldn’t run and I wouldn’t work to get better. Sure, I had to run in other sports, but not for so long, and it certainly wasn’t as important. My usual plan of Hulk smash didn’t work in soccer, and for that reason, I only tried the sport for one season. I allowed myself to fail and quit because I couldn’t run.
When we are confronted with the things that are most difficult for us, we often turn our backs on them, citing that these things just aren’t our strength. We tell ourselves that it’s okay, because we still have other talents, and everyone can’t be good at everything. We lie to ourselves, and allow ourselves to believe that it’s about a fate that we can’t change, and not about our own weakness.
Fast-forward to one year ago, and the past was rearing its ugly head. My wife was a runner in high school, and wanted to rediscover the hobby. I was less than enthusiastic, however, my outlook on many things has changed since my brooding adolescence, so I tried it with her. With the memory of that fat boy, laughing at me the whole time, I failed again at running. I was just as terrible at it as I was when I was young.
The lying ways of my youth came creeping back. Well, I’m just not built to be a runner. I don’t really enjoy it. I’m just doing it for my wife. Unfortunately for my lies, I’ve grown wiser with age. I couldn’t live with the excuses. I can’t be such a hypocrite. It was truly time to flush out that fat boy I once was.
I was Densa, kneeling amid the dust and rubble of failure, telling myself to get up.
So, I got up. Six months ago I made a commitment to do something I had never succeeded at before, and frankly, never thought I could succeed at. I began running regularly, and though my improvement has been slow, I have improved. I can now run six miles, and I don’t plan on stopping there. I’m not sure what distance I would consider a success, but I’m not sure that it matters. The thing I’ve found in running is that it’s not about finishing, it’s about continuing and enduring.
This year, I have a New Year’s Resolution. This year, I will run 500 miles.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 11/5/2014
If you’ve read the What Is Everflame? page of my website, then you know that the concept of Everflame means something more to me. It stands for my ethics, philosophies, and character, and I believe it can mean that for anyone. I see the concept of Everflame as an individual’s inner barometer. It’s something to think about when you need to look within yourself for strength. The strength I find within myself, I call Everflame.
I try to apply this inner strength to my life as much as I can, though no one can be perfect, and there are certainly times that I struggle. However, I feel that the Everflame Series has “talked the talk,” and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t at least try to “walk the walk.” Through this series of blog posts, titled My Everflame, I intend to document this search for strength within myself.
Recently, my father-in-law Nick Geiermann passed away, after a struggle with ALS. Nick was a great man, and I can say this without having known him through the entirety of his life, and without having spent an immense amount of time with him. I know this because I know the woman he raised, and I love her more than any other. To me, Nick Geiermann is responsible for someone who has enriched my life with love in a way words do no justice. Now, in these days after his passing, I look within myself to find my role after this tragic event. I look within myself for the strength to honor him and to do what he would have wanted.
My wife and I met each other, and still live with each other today, in Florida. However, my wife grew up in Michigan and that is where her father, Nick, lived his life. Due to the distance between us, I never spent as much time with Nick as I would have liked to. In fact, the first time I met Nick was when I asked for his blessing to marry his daughter. I’ll never forget that conversation. It was a difficult thing for me to express deep feelings to a man I had only just met, but I believed he needed to know who I was, and how I felt.
The words we spoke to each other during that conversation were not as important to me as what I could see in Nick’s eyes. It may sound foolish, but I’ve never evaluated a man by his words. To me, it’s the spaces between those words that say so much more. It’s the moments of silence in which we search for the correct words to convey how we really feel that give everything away. In that conversation, and in those moments that I was pouring my feelings out to a man I barely knew, his eyes told me everything I ever need to know about Nick Geiermann.
He eyes conveyed that he loved his daughter deeply and he was both terrified of me and grateful for me, all at the same time. I could see in his eyes the caution with which he regarded me. I can only assume he was trying to figure out everything he could about me, with not enough information to make such an important decision. Ultimately, his want for his daughter’s happiness coaxed him into accepting me. His want for his daughter’s happiness gave him the strength to take my words as truth. What I learned about Nick Geiermann on that day was that his want for his daughter’s happiness was as strong as anything.
So, as I look within myself during this difficult time, I now know exactly what to do. I know what Nick would want from me, and I’ve known it ever since that first conversation. I am here for his daughter’s happiness, her security, and her well-being. I will love her, protect her, and be there for her always. I promised that to him then, and I reaffirm that commitment now.
We will miss you, Nick.