Why Not Be Awesome?

This morning an interesting question was put to me at the gym: “You think that jacket makes you awesome?” The jacket in question; my 2015 Boston Marathon jacket. I considered a bunch of different answers, but in the interest of immediacy, I just went with, “Yeah,” as I headed for the door.

Now, maybe the person asking has several reasons to be awesome himself, but just chose not to wear it this morning. Maybe his car is emblazoned with bumper stickers declaring his membership in country clubs, his awesome grandkids, his service to his country, or his political persuasion, etc. Or maybe his Facebook profile is thick with “Likes” of all sorts of favorite movies, albums, stores, cars, and whatnot. In all likelihood, we can bet he’s got something, somewhere that he shows off on a regular basis.Tom in a whitewater kayak

And why not?

There’s something wrong with a culture that suppresses declarations of awesomeness. If I choose to be awesome, and you choose to be awesome in a different way, why the heck would we begrudge each other the chance to show it off?

Is it our American-ness that causes this? Or is it a global human trait? In this country at least, we’ve been on a depressing lowest-common-denominator cultural spiral for a long time. I mean, let’s face it; our culture has become like a Ford Taurus. Nothing special, does the job, doesn’t cost too much, doesn’t attract attention, or rock the boat.

(I mean, seriously, who thinks America produces a true luxury car?)

We don’t celebrate anything unless we can profit from it. We don’t create anything without a profit motive. We watch television shows about people jumping off rooftops (again, with a profit motive), or cunning political machinations, celebrities getting ‘fired’, entrepreneurs sniveling before loudmouthed capitalists, and even a long-running cable series about guys who write television ads. We don’t sneeze unless we can show a positive P&L.

Here in Boston, you see that with the negative reaction to the proposal for the 2024 Olympics. Remember when we used to celebrate the fact that athletes from every country competed on the field in a metaphorical pursuit of global peace? Remember when we launched fireworks and light shows just because? Now if it doesn’t sell enough Coke, iPhones and Adidas gear, the pencil pusher in all of us runs a spreadsheet to see if the margins are worth it.

We’ve become a nation of boring, no-fun, uninteresting, joyless people with no time to celebrate and no tolerance for those who do. We’re only focused on the financial payoff. “Money makes the world go ‘round.” “Greed… is good.” “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” It’s like the 1980s never ended. There’s plenty of wealth, but we’re impoverished in every other aspect of life.

Balance sheets and negativity should be left at the workplace. Wherever your awesomeness comes from, I say wear it, declare it, & share it. I guarantee it won’t be from something where you ran a financial projection before you started.

From Daddy on your First Day of School… Ever

This only happens once. In your lifetime.

Tonight both of you are going to bed after a warm bath, maybe some cookies and a story, and it will seem like just about any other evening. But this one is different; this night is your last one in a world of relative freedom and fun.

As soon as you step across the threshold into kindergarten, your life will change forever. And as the guy lucky enough to be your Daddy, I know I’m supposed to offer a few words of encouragement, maybe look up what Martha Stewart says to tell your kids on this occasion, and go with that.

But I can’t.

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Hey! Let’s Pick Up Dog Poop!

Hey! Let's Pick Up Dog Poop! | MyLeftOne BlogI am not a big fan of dog poop. There, I said it.

I’m sure that puts me squarely in the majority, at least I hope so. I hate seeing the leavings of our canine friends all over the sidewalks and playgrounds, even in those cute little blue bags.

Actually, those bags are just the beginning. It was the behavior of a dog owner I recently encountered at a local park that prompted me to write this.

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Book Review: A Discovery of Boredom (Witches, Sorry)

A Discovery of Boredom | MyLeftOne BlogI finally got through my skimming of Deborah Harkness’ “A Discovery of Witches”. Yes, just a skimming. It’s unreadable.

You may have heard of it. While not exactly Harry Potter, it is among the phalanx of fantasy stories that inevitably must follow such a popular phenomenon.

And by not exactly Harry Potter, I mean that it combines the limp romanticism of Twilight with the ponderous introspection of The Hunger Games to create a book in which nothing at all happens, but the details of every scene are richly described and thought about, even though they hardly change from chapter to chapter.

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A Conversation During the Providence Marathon

A conversation with myself at the Providence Marathon | MyLeftOne Blog

That’s how I taper

Okay, here we go…

There was no starting gun, because that’s starting to seem a bit weird, after the moment of silence. Instead, somebody blew a horn.

I last ate two hours ago at a Providence Dunks. Bagel. Whole grain. No spread. Been guzzling electrolytes like a- do fish drink electrolytes? It is way too soon for these thoughts.

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The Bishop Family Weekly Update: December 14, 2012

The Bishop Family Weekly UpdateWeekly? We’re calling it weekly? But it’s once a year, right? Well, yes, strictly speaking, we only publish our weekly update once a year, but it’s coming out during a week, so what’s the problem? Got ya there.

The Bishop Family Weekly UpdateSo what went down this year? Let’s start with Connor. This sharp little guy is in his second year of school and is kicking serious butt. The words are really starting to flow, too, as people who don’t know him are starting to understand his speech. That’s huge.

He’s also a mountaineer. He climbed the entire Flume Slide Trail in NH and has also hung bear bags, built mound fires and can dig and use a cathole. Okay, Daddy helped.

Oh, he runs. And swims. Unassisted. When the training wheels come off in the spring we’ll have a triathlete.

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The Last Mountain

The Last Mountain - Hiking The New Hampshire 4K's With The Kids | MyLeftOne“Did you come up the auto road or the cog railway?” the woman asked my son Connor on the summit of Mount Washington. He didn’t have many words at age three, so he simply pointed down the mountain and said “There.” She followed his view down toward Tuckerman Ravine, which I had just climbed on foot from Pinkham Notch, with Connor on my back.

It’s a question I’d heard before, when my daughter Riley was three. That time we were at the Lakes of the Clouds hut for the evening. Again, the answer was neither; We’d hiked the southern Presidentials with her on foot for part of the way.

Yes, I’ve been climbing 4,000’ mountains with a pre-schooler in a backpack.

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