Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A dream for the ages

I remember as a child having dreams where I could fly. Last night I dreamed I could run without knee pain.

Monday evening I led little league practice for my younger son's team - our head coach away on travel. It was fun and a good practice and when I got home my right knee was hurting. Badly. And I walked with a limp. "What is this?" I nervously wondered. Three summers ago I had knee surgery on my left knee. A torn meniscus. It still aches when I run. But my right knee? My "good" knee? Ugh. I took 3 Aleve and went to bed. Yesterday it felt a little better, but I could not say it was "okay."

In my dream I was back in my childhood town and I was running along the main road and turned into the peach orchards, along dirt roads. I was running so fast and so far and never ran out of breath. It was exhilarating. At one point I stopped and realized my knees weren't hurting. It was such a thrilling and exciting feeling to have no knee pain and then I realized it was a dream then I tried to run again but the dream had run out.

I'm 48 years old. I could stand to drop 10 pounds but I'm otherwise in pretty good shape. But my knees have started letting me down. I remember when 48 was old, like say 28 years ago when I was 20. I was ending my junior year in college and it was my dad who was 48. Now my dad is 76. I can't exactly say 76 is "old." I know better. But 76 is "getting up there." I say that not so much for his benefit but for mine. I hope to make it to 76 and it'll be a stretch to consider 76 "middle-aged" so I'm going with "getting up there" rather than "old." Meanwhile 48 is now somewhere in a broadening range of "middle-age" ages. I'm not sure what age actually qualifies as "old" anymore. Someone twice my age at 96-years-old is certainly old but I wouldn't say it to them. I would congratulate them and then ask them how their knees are holding up.

I shouldn't complain. I'm lucky. I'm lucky I was born when I was because if I had been born, say, 10,000 years ago I'd be dead. I would have never made it to 48. Besides the ornery left knee there's my plantar fasciitis, my torn left bicep, and I wear glasses. Unless I could have been the clan shaman, I'd have been left behind.

"Hey John, grab your spear. We are getting ready to chase those buffalo over the cliff."
"Really? Now?"
"Yeah! Come on!"
"Look, my left knee is really acting up, why don't you guys go on ahead and I'll just drink some of this fermented cactus juice and ask the spirit world to look after you all. Cool?"

No. What happens is they leave me at Dying Rock at the foot of Spirit Mountain with a full skin of that fermented cactus juice so I can join the spirit world. We might have been a little sad, but there would have been a nice ceremony. We'd chant. Someone would burn dried sage. We'd say goodbye and they would move on. That was how it went down. And as I closed my eyes I would have fallen asleep and dreamed of chasing buffalo with my clan-mates.

I wonder what future dreams I may have: Maybe one day I'll dream of the thrill of eating solid food or the exhilaration of making it to the bathroom on my own. Whatever those future dreams are I'll try to enjoy them. I guess that's the best thing.

Oh, and my right knee? Thanks for asking. It's still a little stiff but it feels better. I don't think it is anything serious.






Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Altitude Analysis

FADE IN:
Scene 1: Interior

Typical military office of an officer. Mahogany desk, flag, awards and certificates adorn the walls. The Colonel sits at his desk shaking his head. He is looking at papers and is clearly distressed. After a moment he presses the intercom on his desk

COLONEL
Send in Jenkins!

JENKINS enters and salutes. The COLONEL returns the salute.

COLONEL
At ease Jenkins. I'm glad you could come in today. I want to discuss the issue at hand but I don't want to get bogged down in the details.

JENKINS
Of course sir. So, you just want a high level overview?
COLONEL
Right. 
JENKINS
Okay! I can give you the 30,000 foot view of the issue, if you like.
COLONEL
Well, see, that's just the thing. 30,000 feet up is pretty high up. Is it too high?
JENKINS
Yes, it is, for a commercial airline it a fairly normal altitude. Some go up to 36,000 feet. But some of our military planes fly 100,000 feet up. Maybe you'd like that view of the issue.
COLONEL
Yes, of course, that sounds good, but that is pretty high up. I'll need metaphorical oxygen for this won't I?
JENKINS
Yes, you will. In fact, you'll need a metaphorical pressure suit. 
COLONEL
Well, that doesn't worry me. 
JENKINS
Now you could go higher, say up to the 300,000 foot level. Now you are in essentially in space. There is really no atmosphere and your metaphorical plane's wings are useless. You'll need a metaphorical rocket.
COLONEL
That's too high up. I don't need the 300,000 foot view of this issue. I don't think its that big. Take me back down to 30,000 feet.
JENKINS
Yes sir. Now, as I was saying, taking the 30,000 foot view of the issue...
COLONEL
One second! From up here, I can see the metaphorical landscape, even roads and towns, but I can't make out any people. I'm not sure but I think this is too high.
JENKINS
Well, let's look at this from the 10,000 foot level. What do you think of that?
COLONEL
Hmmm. Yes, yes, this is better. I get a better sense of what is going on. I can even see metaphorical kids playing metaphorical soccer on that metaphorical field.
JENKINS
Exactly! I think you are on to something. Shall we continue?
COLONEL
No, Jenkins. You've been very helpful. I now have a good sense of what metaphorical altitude I should use from here on.
JENKINS
Thank you sir.


FADE OUT