Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Evangelical Rabbi Learns a Lesson

A friend once called me, only semi-jokingly, an evangelical runner. Having gained so much from running, I try to share it with others (Want to lose weight? Try running. Want to be happier? Try running. Want to get rid of bad breath? Try running). When asked about how to make time for running, I generally said something deep and sophisticated like “Do you have time to be in the hospital?”.

Well call it divine providence, karma, luck, comeuppance or my preferred term, God's sense of humor, but this summer, I've learned to be a little less preachy.

It has often been said, with only the tiniest amount of exaggeration, that the two best parts of teaching are July and August. Having left teaching after 16 years, to start Team Just One Life, I am no longer off from work in the summer. In fact, I am not only working but find myself on the road, recruiting for the team. From the pork capitol of America (Washington D.C.) to the dairy capitol of America (upstate New York. OK I know it's not, but even the dog I saw there, was white with black spots) I am seeing the world, or at least the Northeast corridor of the US, which to a former New Yorker, might as well be the world.

Well, between the long hours, and the time on the road, I have had a harder time getting out on the road in the best sense of the term, RUNNING. It seems that it's a little easier to train when you are working from 8-2:30 with a break in the summer. Fear not, I am still getting in 50+miles a week, but it does mean waking up at ungodly hours and being a bit more flexible.

I still think running might be the answer to practically all that ails the world (get Abbas and Netanyahu to run together and there would be peace within 5 miles), as well as what ails man (I can practically swear that I feel my hair follicles starting to sprout again). Still, I'm a little less smug than I used to be and will understand if you can only mange 45 miles a week.


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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Take the Leap

I received a friend request from my father-in-law the other day. At first, I have to admit, I thought it was a little strange. He's not exactly in the age demographic of most Facebook users. Still, upon giving it some thought, I thought it was pretty cool that he signed up for an account.

After I made the decision to end my career as a teacher, I received a call from a good friend. After he wished me luck, he added how much he admires my willingness to break away from what I was doing to try something new. He admitted that he is not thrilled with his job and wishes he he could change.

I spent 16 years teaching teenagers, or at least, trying to. I was frequently struck by the lack of willingness on the part of students who were making poor decisions to try and change. The thinking seemed to be based on the idea, that their current way of operating might not be working, but at least it was familiar.

It takes guts for a non-runner to try and take up running. At the beginning it's awkward, uncomfortable and frustrating. It's much easier to give up, or better yet, to not even try. Still, I know that it is not only my life that has been transformed by having fought through the uncomfortable initial effort.

We spend so much time talking about how life is too short and trying to live longer and yet, paradoxically, at the same time, staying in situations that just don't work. Often, we are alive, but not fully, trudging through life half asleep.

Of course, I had a little push getting to where I am. I can't deny that my new job comes with a steep learning curve. Still, I feel alive, productive and challenged. If I am successful, and I think I will be, I will also get to change lives. I suspect that there will be days when I will miss teaching. What I know that I will not miss is the feeling of being stuck, of being in a rut, in a situation that no longer felt ideal.

To my friend, my students and all of you I would say, take the leap. I suspect you'll be glad you did.

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