By Patrick Norris
Reading Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra is my latest challenge. I say challenge for a few reasons. This challenge comes in a few forms such as maintaining my own mindfulness of the story, allowing full concentration and awareness of any gems that are shared based on how relevant they are to me, and not to mention my empathy for and connection to the younger and older Rich whose words are so applicable, fun, heartbreaking and relatable (especially being of similar age) that I can’t help but viscerally feel the life and passion that stirs within these pages. It’s difficult to pay attention with the shifts in setting yet embrace it all to ride along with his agile, dramatic writing style. My ADHD may be able handle it during my better hours, but it’s a practice. My purpose in reading this book is to find my own Ultra in the form of suitable focused physical activity that brings some sort of fulfillment and health improvement at the age of 41. It also lends itself to my ultimate goal to be a writer and actualize myself to the fullest extent possible.
To help you fully appreciate this I would have to go into my own story in greater detail. My health is what it is as a 188 lb. African American type 1 diabetic male (cis-gender/heterosexual) father with 3 children. I have heart challenges and sleep apnea. So I’m trying to lose weight and reverse some of these things. I also labor daily against depression, anxiety and ADHD to name the more mental or psychological afflictions. So in the next installment, I will tap into my own story and how it links to Finding Ultra sharing how I’m doing with this book and the struggles that I am going through to an extent. I intend to keep it genuine and purposeful with gratitude for your time and attention.
If you don’t know about Rich Roll and you have a Smartphone, the best place to start is with his podcast published under his own name; so search for it. He is a triathlete and ultra marathon runner who has overcome many obstacles in middle age and credits much of it to his vegan/plant-based diet. He is truly an excellent example of what could be accomplished despite your past, your age, and even seemingly innate limitations. His podcasts are long form and feature many really valuable interviews with well-know and lesser known but authentically uplifting and value-rich human beings. Hope you find this informative and off course you can purchase or checkout (library/similar service) his book Finding Ultra. Rich does not know me (yet), and no value was exchanged for promotion. This is a sharing from my heart. Thanks for reading as this section was not something I originally intended to do. Thanks. Peace and Grace.
P.S. For more of my musings, conjecture and aberrations, please follow me on Twitter at @patrickwritesct and Instagram at @patrickstillrunsct. @patrickrunsct is my old account. You may message me as a heads up that you found me here, and I will gladly approve your request as it is a private account.
My thoughts are prolific. I like that I have a lot of ideas and insights. Yet, my mind overwhelms itself. I don’t know if this is exactly unique, but I think my thoughts do have a unique flavor.
My thoughts are prolific. I like that I have a lot of ideas and insights. Yet, my mind overwhelms itself. I don’t know if this is exactly unique, but I think my thoughts do have a unique flavor. I “think funny” as my sister once said. Some people like the things it helps me to create (especially writings). (While writing this post, I’m fighting off tangents of ideas that would take this in a different direction.) Yet I am not a prolific writer. I like the idea of being one especially since it would be in the spirit of my favorite creative person to ever live, The Artist, also known as Prince. However, I am not on par with him in work habits or in orientation to finding a distinct voice. I like to explore, but I don’t follow one direction. I’m impulsive then I am focused. I am profound then I’m mundane. I’m mindful then I am mindless. I continue to practice sporadically, yet I don’t know what of substance I will produce. I have a need to tame my tendencies towards impatience and impulsivity along with tendencies to succumb to personal pride, fear of failure, fear of the responsibility of success and/or notoriety, confused intentions, an unreliable memory, and other character traits that make me feel reluctant to work through the fog of creating. (Is this the type of “resistance” addressed in The War of Art?) I have not produced enough to be confident. Still, people (such as teachers, professors, and colleagues) have complimented me on my writing for as long as I can remember. The first scene (posted here previously) of a potential novel gained me a few likes and even follows for which I am pleased. I cannot deny the drive to create and share. Despite this I wonder: how do you determine the direction in which to go when there are so many possibilities? To answer this I would guess the question is: “what is my most primary, truest intention” for all of this? My first scene of Parker’s Story now feels like a “false start”. I revised the last scene almost without thinking when reviewing it recently just as I give my focus and attention to a new vision I’ve decided to keep to myself for very practical reasons. Much like this one, it now feels like this newest vision is of a story I have to write in a way that is very real to me. It originates from something deeply rooted in my personal experience of living, which also is not as pleasant or initially satisfying. My perspective could obviously change after April 21, 2017 when I “put pen to paper” to begin the first draft. If I were like Prince, I could work on them both while seducing you with a bed of short stories that may or may not ever see “the light of day” officially yet would nevertheless be shared (for free) with an update on the progress toward my “silent” project. There’s never a shortage of ideas. There is only the limitation of dedicated time for my writing practice. Perhaps, if I take the time to declutter my work spaces and streamline my activity in other ways, this could change. It only takes a bit of creativity and a little focused effort. I think I have a few ideas.
Christian Equivalent to the Buddhist Equanimity:
If I want what’s best for all, then I have no choice. It’s complete submission to God’s will. It is not personal. I am not the center of it all. I still take action.
I give my effort, but I don’t control the outcome. Even if I believe there is no “personal god”, this should still ring true. This is peace of mind. This is what I seek.
Parker’s Story #draft
Chapter 1 – The Disciple
Scene 2 – Sensei’s House
“How much do you know about computers, Parker?”
Sensei’s wife was beautiful, but she wasn’t very subtle.
“Mr. Lee knows next to nothing. Won’t you help him?”
“Well, don’t you think Sensei will want me get started on my practice?”
“Would you like some tea?”
Parker seemed unaware that he was staring.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Lee. No, thank you. Where is Sensei anyway?”
“The back porch… if you don’t help, he may be in need of practice himself.”
“Alice!” she called.
Parker’s eyes brightened. Laura Lee smiled at him charmingly as if to say “you’re a good boy, Parker”.
Just as he turned his shoulder to the sound of steps approaching the kitchen, he heard the familiar whisper.
“Where have you been?” asked the master.
“I was talking…”
“Do you know computers?”
“Good. Sit down.”
“Switch with me.”
Just that quickly, Parker was intrigued by a sketch of a temple and a black and white photo in a wood frame. It was a Japanese couple on the dance floor. She had a long flowing gown. He wore what looked like a military uniform. He knew a little history but didn’t quite a Japanese military uniform from an American one. Parker observed a majority of people of apparent Asian descent in the crowd, he made a guess that this was Master and Mrs. Lee.
“You need more practice.”
“Today, this is practice.”
He heard the teacher’s voice but saw a different color in the old man’s smile.
“Mrs. Lee says I need to be more organized. So I’m putting all of my records here. Alice is going away, so she can’t help me right now.”
“Good news: once you help me here, you’re done. But you have to promise me you will practice later.”
He couldn’t mean that, he thought to himself.
“It isn’t that you’re ready. It will make you ready.”
“I’m not sure I…”
“That is good. You need not be too sure of too many things.”
Sensei’s eyes were clear and steady. It was a look that reached him on a deeper level. It was a look that made him trust.
Chapter 1: The Disciple
He looked out at the restless sunrise in the midst of a sleeping home. He wondered who would yell at him for being up too early if he went down to find if his favorite show was on. This was his only chance to watch tv–Saturday morning when he had no lessons, homework or chores. Not that Saturday was all work. After meeting Sensei, he would see Jimmy. What new toy did his little friend have today?
Jimmy was a momma’s that wore name Johnny Joseph brand clothing that from his shirt to his socks. His shoes were always San Lamar casuals or the hottest sneakers. He didn’t wear sneakers much, especially for someone his age. Was that laughter? This early? Who else was up before 7 on a Saturday? Stacy was too young–not to laugh but to turn on the television from which he could now hear the sound of cartoons. Parker walked around the corner feeling eager but not completely revealing himself. He stood just shy of the edge of the hallway. On the brown leather couch tucked underneath a red and blue patchwork quilt was his mother and a little girl. She looked so different laughing. He had never seen her so engaged. She often seemed to be so dependent on Mommy that she never even looked towards the tv. What was this? He knew this feeling. He had become aware of it in practice. The thought he noted to himself: “she never sat up with me when I watched cartoons.” And she certainly never breakfast, or anything else, on their brown leather sofa. Granny certainly would not approve.
She would always be so exhausted on Friday nights. At least she claimed. He caught himself. It was a bit upsetting to see her smiling and relaxed on the couch with Stacey.
“What gives?” he thought.
It was ok. He would just go in his room and pretend to read. He had no idea which book. He would find one. And he would, by golly, really read this time and enjoy it. Maybe a joke book. He was not as self-aware as he had assumed. Who needs the “freaking” TV? Whatever. Parker, you’re 8 years old. She’s 2 1/2. You shouldn’t try to compete with her.
There it is. “Charlotte’s Web”. His older cousin Jill said he would enjoy it as she unloaded a dozen of her old books on him. None of them included any cool characters, but his dad said that these are the books you read if you wanted to be smart. He knew he was smart, but he still needed to read. Whatever.
The sun was shining bright. “How about I open the window just a tad,” he thought. Then he found the perfect position on the bed.
“A little background music.”
“Not so loud.”
“The air is a little too cold.”
The sun appeared much brighter through his small window.
“A little too much sunlight.”
Ok. Now he was settled.
“A lot of big words.”
“Should’ve gone to the bathroom.”
As he returned from the bathroom, his Uncle Nathan grabbed him and pulled him into the guest room. “Can you teach me some of that Karate stuff?”
His dad had said his uncle was strange and unpredictable, but he’d only be there for another 4 months.
Seemed as if that would be a very, very… very, very long time. Nathan was 24 years old and had dropped out of college. He always had a new plan for what to do with his life. Perhaps he should start with a good old fashioned job.
“I want to impress my lady friend. She is fiiiine. You’d like her. Maybe you can show me some of your moves. But I’m serious. I’d pay you.”
Parker liked the sound of that. There is something he had been wanting to buy for himself for a very long time.
“You can’t possibly come to know the depths of suffering and then have any wish other than to not only be free of your own suffering, but to have others be free of their suffering.”
Excerpt From: angel Kyodo williams. “Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.” North Atlantic Books, 2016-04-27. iBooks.
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