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The taking of the knee

Wednesday 8/4/21

Yesterday at the Apple store I had to wear the mask. They require it. If a business requires one, I'll wear it. That was what I always did. I can tell, though, that the mask is unhealthy. For me it is. The re-breathing of spent air, the fostering of the migraine. My head seems to overheat, and the headache starts to come on. I feel decidedly unhealthy in a mask. Now I see that Jennifer Aniston is talking about a moral obligation to get the vaccine, and people care about what she thinks, because she was once on a popular sitcom. I did get the vaccine. I wasn't sure if I was going to. I can understand getting it, and also not getting it. I'd support someone either way in their choice. I can respect the contrasting viewpoints. I can respect what an individual thinks is best for them with the vaccine.


The truth is, if people took care of themselves, there would be no need for masks or vaccines. People do not take care of themselves. Or what percentage do you think does? As I've said, I never have to elbow anyone out of the way on any of the stairs I run. The people I do see running on flat ground when I am out and about are usually in excellent shape. I'd say that seventy percent of them are. There are also people in not-so-great shape making the effort. Why did I get the vaccine? Really just one reason: I thought it'd be easier. I'm hoping to get my memberships back to places like the MFA, the Cape Ann Museum, the Peabody Essex, the Harvard Art Museums, the Brattle--if I can get the money--and I didn't want to not be able to go if they had a vaccine requirement. It was never for my health.


Then you are supposed to think, "It's for the health of others!" People make choices. Further, they usually choose to neglect their mental health, and to give in to society-obliterating vices of envy, delusion, anger, hate. That impacts me. That directly determines my life situation, my quality of life, which is nonexistent. They are not doing anything to look out for anyone else on that score, and they are fostering a sick, shallow, dysfunctional world that tries to destroy someone such as myself, a person who can do so much good for this world. I don't have many level playing fields in my life, and I don't think a level playing field, in any area, is a bad thing. Anyone is welcome to run the stairs with me. You're welcome to get up at four in the morning and work your ass off with me. But people don't want to do that. They want to sit around, sleep in, order the triple-decker chocolate mega-frappuccino, guzzle the wine.


How much of an effort of health are they really making? Isn't that on them? I understand being waylaid. Unable to function. Beaten down by life such that you can't take the run. I absolutely understand that and I sympathize with it, and I know it, just in different ways. There are basic things I can't do, since I had that breakdown. It's hard and humiliating. But that's not normally what is happening in these instances I reference. Laziness is happening. I don't feel like I'm responsible for you if you're lazy.


The other day I encountered some photos from two, three, and ten years ago of one of the first friends I had after moving to Connecticut as a kid. This kid was a fine athlete. We were sports rivals, too, of a sort. I'm pretty sure we're within one month of each other. I showed the photos to someone I know, and they remarked that this man could pass for my uncle. He looked like hell, and I wondered how he'd become that way. But a typical hell. It's not like he stood out if you just met him--he stood out because of how I'd known him, though if you told someone their age, I think they'd say, "Gosh." I figured he'd keep up with some physical activity. Playing basketball at the gym or whatever.


Me and this other person got to talking about a theory they have, that people just love to take a knee and quit on life. (Take a knee as in run out the clock, not in the protest way.) Early. Like taking a knee near the end of the second quarter and riding that out for the second half.


"They just give up," my friend said. "They give up as soon as they can."


I once would have asked myself how you give up at forty-five, but I see it all the time. I shouldn't even say that--I see people give up in their twenties. They look old for twenty-eight. What do I think keeps you looking young, energetic, fresh? It's not just the physical routine. That is important, yes, but no more so than drive. Than energy. The way you come into a new day, a month, year, ready to battle. To improve. To better what you did previously. You need a great spirit and a great spirit of curiosity. There is something about being curious that impacts the skin itself. It's like the body picks up on how alive you are, and it responds in kind. When you are down, and you make yourself go out for a three mile run, that adds up. Just as when you are down and you sit there on the couch adds up.