Breaking Free – Day 13 (Beethoven)

Day 13 – Wednesday, August 23, 2017 (Beethoven)

7:44 a.m. – Home from a walk that came with a gift. I spent most my time with Ludwig van Beethoven, a hero of mine since I was a boy. I was hooked on his music and his story straightaway. That he composed the Ninth Symphony, in 1824, when he was almost completely deaf, just three years before his death in March 1827, is an act of creation that leads me to be still with its truth and grateful for the moment.

I can’t remember its name, or its author, but there was a biography of Beethoven (and one of Geronimo, by the way) that I read over and over again when I was a boy. I remember the kindness he received from the von Breuning family. He needed it. He was 17, his mother had just died, his father had fallen full-tilt into the death-grip of alcoholism, and, he had two younger brothers.

I remember passages in the biography detailing how Beethoven would go for long walks in the woods, by streams, in all weather, and hear the existence of music – meaning – in all he heard.  This brings me back to this morning’s walk. Beethoven was present the moment I stepped out the door. This morning offered a strong shifting breeze, a sky with a mix of dark clouds and sun-backed white ones – the dark clouds had the advantage – and I could hear the water rushing from last night’s downpour through the man-made channel just yards away. There was movement laced with sounds and shadows and colors and birds singing the day awake. The occasional and not unwelcome soft-deep puff of breeze pushed gently into my ear, brought with it sounds of cello and kettle drum.

Every morning is a gift.

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For ADAPT

 

Break for freedom – Day 12 (Adding distance and hills)

Day 12 – Tuesday, August 22, 2017 (Adding distance & hills)

6:08 a.m. – Years ago, not long after the shooting, me and my close friend Dane Arnold belonged to the 23rd Street YMCA in New York City.

We used to play paddle ball as a pair against these two old guys who were so good they barely had to move to, well, basically wipe the floor with us. That’s not quite true, we did win some, lost more, and were always in the game, but they were far more skilled with their placement of shots, and the English they could put on their shots would impress Houdini. As always, I played with all I had which meant diving for a ball, crashing into walls in order to fire off a shot, and so on. On one occasion, after I dove for a shot and crashed into a wall, one of the older guys, smiling from ear to ear and laughing, asked Dane, “Does he always play like this?”

Dane said: “Are you kidding me?! He does everything like this. You should see him wash the dishes; it’s like he’s trying to get the pattern out of the plate.”

Now, my gentle reader, I know this may sound silly, maybe even a stretch, but I believe the same part of my character that plays that hard, or, to put things in sharper focus, the part of me that doesn’t like giving up, is the same part of my character that helped me stand up after I got shot.

Right or wrong, it sure as hell is the same part of me that’s decided to double the hills and the length this morning’s walk.

7:54 a.m. – Back home.  A shade over one mile: 1.1 to be exact. I am smiling. A long way to go, but this morning felt good. Still does!

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For Dane Arnold

Break for freedom – Day 10 (The bullet)

Day 10 – Sunday, August 20, 2017 (The bullet)

7:51 a.m. – Back home from my walk. I looked up around 6:40-something this morning and said: “I want to go out.” In short order, out I went into the early morning cool.

I did not get as sweat-soaked today. I think (I don’t want to say this too loudly) I may be beginning to carve away power from fear. If you happen to bump into fear at a social event, please don’t let on. Fear is quite the control freak, any sign that someone is breaking free of its grasp makes it angry.

For whatever reason, perhaps because this is the month I got shot, I found myself thinking of the bullet lodged in the frontal lobe of my brain during the walk. The brain has no nerve endings, so I don’t feel it. If I were to identify one disappointment linked to its presence, it would be this; I don’t set off airport alarms. I had plans of approaching an airport metal detector and bowing my head forward so it would be the first to thing enter its realm. My thought was, the bullet will set the alarm off, the inspector will point at my head and ask, “So whattaya got in there?” and I’ll respond, “You’re never gonna believe this.” But, alas, these detectors don’t detect lead.

The bullet has been part of my being for most of my life now, 33 years the 24th of this month. It has done its damage, and no doubt plays a role in my life, to some degree. It has its limitations. Name one, you ask? Sure. It couldn’t stop me from taking my morning walk today.

KahrmannHeadXray2.jpg

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For James Scott “Jim” Brady aka Bear

Break for freedom – Day 9 (The wall)

Day 9 – Saturday, August 19, 2017 (The wall)

8:21 a.m. – Back home. It was hell getting out the door today.

I’ve run six marathons in my life, slowly I might add. My fastest was five hours, eight minutes: five New York Marathons and one Marine Corps Marathon. When I began training for my first, I’d hear about this thing every distance runner hits called, “the wall.” Some moment when your body essentially says, You’re on your own, kid, and leaves any further leg movements up to your mind, your will power.

My thought was, how thick could a wall be? I mean, a half mile, a mile maybe? You go through the wall and come out the other side, no? No. No, you don’t. You hit the wall and that is where you stay for the rest of the marathon. My understanding is most hit it between 18 miles and 20 miles. I’d usually hit it around 20 miles, which is why I tell people, the last 6.2 of a marathon, 26.2 miles in length by definition, is 10 times harder than the first 20. It’s all willpower. Which is why, finishing a marathon saturates the finisher with joy, and pride. And so, it should!

When I woke up this morning, I realized I’d hit the wall. I was reeling a bit from nightmares, afraid to even take Charley out. All of me wanted to go back to bed, back to sleep. Just, sleep. And so, I went back to bed and set a timer. When it went off, I got up, and got into the shower. It was the feeling of the hot water on my body and the movements of washing my body that ignited, first the notion, and then the awareness, that I would get out the door.

And so, I went out the door and the walk was, in truth, not so bad. Later this morning I will be in Albany meet with some old friends in the brain injury world and sit in on their workshop. In the meantime, I am going to have another cup of coffee and shoot the breeze with Charley for a while.

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For Fred Lebow

Day 8 – August 18, 2017 (Moxie Man)

Day 8 – Friday, August 18, 2017 (Moxie Man)

5:24 a.m. – Charley’s early walk was lovely. More so than usual, there is a very light rain falling, and the scent of rain in the air reaches the center my heart. I’ve loved the scent since I was a  boy. Had the scent somehow washed over me when I was a baby, then my love for it started then. I kissed Charley on the top of his velvety head, and then let him make his morning contributions.

I treasure moments like this morning’s early walk with Charley, in August more than any other month. August has not been much of a friend. My Dad died on the 16th, my mother committed suicide on the 12th, and I was held-up and shot in the head on the 24th. That said, an enchanting woman called me Moxie Man this month, and that’s just about as lovely as the scent of rain, and embeds a beautiful moment in August.

It just started pouring rain outside! This could me my first real rain walk. I am smiling. I want as much of my life back as I can get. Remember, because you feel hopeless doesn’t mean there’s no hope; it simply means you’ve lost contact with it; it’s still there; promise.

8:44 a.m. – Back home. A walk in a soft rain, the earlier downpour had calmed by the time I entered the morning. I hope it rains the same way tomorrow morning. When I was a boy we lived in an area filled with woods and a nice wide stream me and my friends viewed as our own private river. Walking in the rain reminded me of all the beauty and peace I found in the woods. I think it is still there.

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For Anne Marie