So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Looking For My Lost Shaker Of Salt

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. - Paul of Tarsus, writing to the church in Colosse (ca. 62 A.D.) (New American Standard Bible, 1995)

Once upon a time I was likely to shoot off my mouth; say exactly what I felt about training programs, fellow runners, race events, & life in general without regard for the feeling of others. Regrettably, one of the consequences of this attitude is it pruned the all-too-short list of close friends & associates in which I confide. Even more regrettable is "once upon a time" is still my present.

The last couple of months of writing this blog, since I've learned the number of people who actually read it, has encouraged me to more consciously self-edit. An old military friend first mentioned the advice from St. Paul long ago when I was a tightly-wound 22-year-old. Age, as you can tell, has not mellowed me so much as encouraged me to look into the room into which I consider dropping a verbal hand grenade. Even a warning that the contents of a blog post are a person's opinion (which I borrowed from the blog of two-time Olympic medalist Simon Whitfield) are easily decontextualized by a well-meaning reader who decides to pull the material from the relative security of the source site (

In spite of the 'Discovery Channel'-like nature of the Internet, I'm still thankful it remains democratic. If you have access (If you can read this you do!) you can find what you desire, & say/write what is on your mind. No single authority says you have to research from a particular source, buy from a particular supplier, or follow a particular belief. In exchange for this democracy, however, each participant is (or should be!) charged with the responsibility to think critically & criticize in a thoughtful, responsible manner. Very few individuals are taken to task for irresponsible behavior unless criminality can be directly attributed.

As part of my day job I deal regularly with a demographic which truly are a mental & emotional work-in-progress. A writer recently described the mind of a young adult as being much like a Ferrari...with really awful brakes. I marvel at what appears to be zero rational thought or impulse control on the part of many young adults, shudder to think a small number of them are handed millions of dollars in disposable income when they can barely spell "investment," & take three deep breaths as I think of them at the controls of jet fighter aircraft, carrying semi-automatic/automatic weaponry & explosive devices, & the like.

Two decades ago, the psychologist James Marcia suggested we go through "MAMA" cycles when looking at individual identity, MAMA as the acronym for Moratorium, Achievement, Moratorium, Achievement, states of identity defined by psychologist Erik Erikson. Any parent who has dealt with an adolescent who suggests "I need a summer/semester/year off to find myself" is dealing with a request for identity moratorium. Not that older adults are immune from looking for an escape from reality. In fact, some are willing to digress even farther in the development of individual identity & responsibility & simply foreclose; take the direction of others, accept the prescription of influential authorities as their place in this world. Persons you don't want to see at a political rally.

But returning to the moratorium, some time off from running - one day a week, one week a month, & up to one month a year - is a healthy decision, as long as some healthy activity is substituted. It provides (at least it does me!) the perspective there is a world outside not constrained by training cycles, recovery, & all that stuff. The two-week recovery cycle I took after my target half-marathon in November made me anticipate the return to run training that much more.

Personally, I don't recommend or condone taking "time off" from responsible behavior, responsible speech or responsible writing. If you're in a position of high-visibility, such as a politician, athlete...or a coach, for that certain that people watch what you do & listen to what you say.

So, if you're going to say something, make certain those words are gracious & well-seasoned. You never know when you might have to eat them.

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