Friday, January 3, 2014


Last year my friend Kale trained for the Dog Sledding World Champions. One day he talked me into going to the Rec Center in Delta for a spinning class. After the class, Kale headed for the pool, while I farted around with the exercise equipment. I watched him swim laps, his head popping up occasionally to grin at me like a lab in water.

I'm not much of a swimmer. I never thought I could be because of my arm. When I tried tagging along to swim with friends, it felt more like controlled self-rescue than laps. I gave up. The chlorine dried out my hair and made my skin itch anyway.

The next week Kale invited me to the Rec Center again. I brought my suit. I peddled my way through spin class. Then, I swam. I kept going back each week, adding on a few extra laps each time and after a bit, I felt more like a turtle in the water than a cat.

I love physical goals mainly because they are so tangible. Take something you're not so good at, show up for a run or a class and eventually you get better. Results achieved! I like that about growing food. Build up soil, plant seeds, and voila, greens to eat all winter long! Meeting a goal feels good.

And yet I wonder, are these the things that are really most important? I want to develop my ability to listen, to be compassionate, to practice courage, but these things all seem pretty murky. How often do people practice loving-kindness for an hour every day? There's no distance to measure, no time to keep, and though there are classes you can go to, I'm a skeptic to listen to someone who claims to have answers.

Are people who are compassionate born that way? Do they come from families who listen well? Do they hit rock bottom and find that courage is the only way? Or does it take time and trying, making mistake after mistake and getting back up one more time to try again?  I'd like to think it's the latter.
Kale and his dogs competing on Grand Mesa last year.
A cabin workout with Kale.

My grandmother.

Christmas dinner.

All the way from France!

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