Is Trust A Villain ?

Overcome-Self-Doubt-300x268Based upon my own experiences in this revolving trip around the sun we’re all taking together, I can say without question that there are many moments of self-doubt in life. For some, these moments may be less frequently occurring than for others, but we all have them. This, I know.

I’ve recently had my own, latest battle with self-doubt, and it centers around my faith and trust in other people. As most who know me would attest to, I’m a very trusting person. My first instinct is to look upon another human being as honest, and of good will. Almost always, this MO toward life has worked for me. It’s given me many solid relationships with friends and people I do business with, and has significantly reduced the amount of stress that I bear in everyday living. But as we all know, there are exceptions to everything….

In the early part of 2012, I met a man who initially struck me as quite amazing. As I learned in talking to this person (who I will call ‘Jerome’), he not only had his own business, but several businesses. And while still only in his early 40’s, he already seemed pretty set, financially. Not only did Jerome have a solid financial base, but he was a runner, and had continuing aspirations to do more with himself in that respect. To me, Jerome had the good life, something I admit to being a bit envious about.

Over the next 12 months, I had periodic contact with Jerome via email, TXT, or on occasion, by phone. Each contact was filled with positivity, and left in me a sense of hope that I, too, could be like him. I kept saying to myself “I know it’s going to be hard, but I can DO this!” My brain would be flooded with ideas about how I could build the business of my dreams, become independent, and as the saying goes when you do what you love, “never work another day in my life.”

As fate would have it, a wonderful opportunity presented itself to me at about the same time that I met Jerome, and although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, it would set my direction for the future. I continued to work on this opportunity with the passion I knew it deserved, and by the Fall of 2012, it was beginning to take real shape.

While I continued to put the pieces in place to this new venture, Jerome reached out to me in early 2013. He had heard about the event I was working on, and wanted to support me. He also spoke with enthusiasm about the event’s purpose, which touched a chord in me. “Let me help you.” he said with a smile in his voice, and I told him that I’d be delighted to have him in my corner.

And so the conversation ensued with Jerome. After some discussion, it was decided that he would “sponsor” my event by providing one of my required services at his cost (no markup). Being that I was looking to economize wherever I could, I took him up on his offer. I was happy, and felt as though I had good things happening to me.

But almost as quickly as the good feelings took root in me, they were replaced by angst and worry. I quickly discovered that it had been a mistake to get involved with Jerome, and before I knew it, I was facing embarrassment in the eyes of others, and financial loss. Jerome did not deliver on any of his promises to support me. In fact, he took resources from me under the guise of providing a service that he ultimately never provided.

As alibi for Jerome’s failure to provide services, he put forth to me an elaborate series of lies, some of them so bizarre that I could only suppose that he suffered from some kind of sociopathic mental disorder, and others so unsophisticated that I couldn’t imagine a rational person even thinking that someone else would believe them.

I guess the moral of the story is that there are humans out there – our brothers and sisters riding with us on this big blue marble – who cannot be trusted, who do not have good will toward others, and who do not understand or otherwise value honesty and integrity. How is it that I fail to see through the veils that these kinds of people wear? Will my own good nature always make me vulnerable to ill will? Should I become suspicious of everyone, even those I think of as friends?

Today, I have nothing but self-doubt and unanswered questions. I hope tomorrow will be a better day. I believe it will…….

Posted in Philosophy | 2 Comments

One Man’s Truth

I’ve never been one to be shy about expressing my opinion, and sometimes I’m known to do so in pretty strong fashion (yes, DP, wherever you are – I admit it!).  But the fact remains, it’s merely my opinion, and I understand that whether I am in the majority or the minority in that regard matters very little, as it will do nothing much to change my day-to-day life.

More often than not, I find that when I express my opinion strongly about something in the face of an opposing view, there is nothing positive that ever comes of it.  All I get out of it is a lot of anxiety, and certainly a lot of emotional energy is spent in the process.

Ah, to be right.  It’s what we all want, isn’t it?  We want to know that the way we see the world is the truth, the undisputed truth, and nothing but the truth.  This makes us feel good, and gives us the validating feeling that the way we’re going about life is the best way.  Our ego is satisfied.

But the fact of the matter is, when you get right down to it, there is no undisputed or absolute truth.  Take any given fact, put it out there into the open world, and I would bet you my last dollar that there is at least a small percentage of the population who disagrees with it.  This is the way the world goes around.  This is the truth.

And so, what does it all mean?  Well, I guess it can mean a lot.  Or, nothing at all.

I recently had a public debate/dispute with a ‘Friend’ on Facebook about the self-identification that many Penn State University alum have made with their school, and about how these same people, as a means of distancing themselves from the scandal that took place there, have disassociated from the people who were responsible for covering up Jerry Sandusky’s atrocities.  In other words, I was told, “those people, those top officers at Penn State, were/are NOT the university.”    In this debate, I had taken the stance that Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno were indeed Penn State University, that they as (the academic equivalent of) corporate officers represent the values and ideals of the “business.”  To say that they were not Penn State would be – I argued – like saying Bill Gates and his corporate team are not Microsoft.

The person I was debating with –a PSU graduate – did not take kindly to this opinion.  I was vehemently told that I was “drawing incorrect conclusions” from our discussion, and therefore my argument was invalid.

However, happy to continue the discussion, I pressed on with further points and conclusions, only to then be told that I was starting to “piss off” my debate partner.  The way I see it, the inherent nature of intellectual discussion carries with it this risk.  But….when the name calling begins, it’s probably best to put an end to the conversation, and so that was the way the situation ultimately concluded.

What I realized in all this was that the other person had their way of seeing the facts, and I had mine.  And since that wasn’t going to change, I essentially had two options – either to tell them that I agreed with them (even though I didn’t), or to simply end the conversation by saying that we obviously do not (and will not) see eye to eye.     I chose the latter.

I then followed up that step with another one – I unfriended the person, for which I was very quickly criticized.  Yes, I was characterized as being ‘unclassy’ for running from the debate.  There was more to my unfriending this person than just this debate, but it was definitely the clincher.

What is it with people where they have to be right, and if you deny them that opportunity, they get all bent out of shape and start blasting you?   I don’t know, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter.   The point in all this was that the debate between this person and I was starting to cause me knots in my stomach as it got more intense, and I decided to put a stop to it, for my sake.

He had his truth, and I had mine.  And that’s fine.  It sure wasn’t worth fighting over.

As I apply this concept to the world around us and see all the differences that we (‘we’ meaning Americans and our culture) have with other countries, cultures and religions, I have to wonder, is any of it really worth fighting over?  Do we have to be right, and declare others ‘wrong’ in their view of things?   Isn’t it causing us a lot of anxiety, loss of life, and wasting energy that we could otherwise be using for positive purposes?

Others have their truths, and we have ours.  To which we are both entitled, and should therefore not kill each other over so as to prove that we are right, or superior.

When will the insanity end?

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Building Community

“What show?      Image

At the pump behind me at the gas station is a 30-something guy of obvious Latino descent.

“Huh?” I say.  And then, after a moment of realization, “Oh….uh, I don’t know.  And you’d think I would, right?”  What he’s hearing is my MP3 player blaring “They Love Each Other” as I pump my gas.  I thought about it for a quick second, and decided that no, I still don’t know what Grateful Dead show this song comes from.

For you non-Deadheads, I should explain that every live show the Grateful Dead ever performed has been recorded, and in most cases, by many people.  This is not bootlegging, mind you.  The Dead actually encouraged their fans to record the shows, which in turn, built them a tremendous following, and amongst their fans, an unparalleled sense of community.

“What, is it on the radio?” the guy says to me.  “No, it’s my MP3 player, and I’m ashamed that I don’t know what show it is.”   However, a quick check of my Rio’s display panel reminds me that the recording is from Barton Hall, Cornell University, 5-8-77.  Many Dead devotees consider the Barton Hall show to be the best the band ever played.  And that’s saying a lot, because over the course of 30 years the Grateful Dead performed live 2,318 times.

“Hey, I got it!” I tell him.  “It’s Barton Hall, 5-8-77.  The show of all shows, ya know?”
He gives me a smile and a nod.

ImageThe weird part of all this is that this guy, based on his age and ethnicity (and driving an import tuner, I might add) is perhaps the last person you’d imagine to be a Deadhead.  He totally defies the stereotype.  And yet as soon as he got out of his car to pump his gas and heard the grooves coming out of my vehicle, he asked me “What show?”

This is the community that Jerry, Bobby, Phil, and the gang built through their very special creative talents.  And as I think of it now, I feel that community is actually a primary goal of the creative process.  Or if not a goal, it’s certainly the outcome of most successful creative endeavors.

I want to build things.  I want to create in such a way that community forms around the center of what I do.   This is how I will measure the success of all of my own creative pursuits from now on.

“They Love Each Other.”  Do you think Jesus would have been digging on this song if he’d heard it in his day?  I’d like to think so…

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Hudson River Run 2012 Statistics

May 22, 2012

As many of you may know by now, I completed Hudson River Run 2012 on Sunday afternoon, May 20th, in New York City’s Battery Park.  As I recover from the run, I am working on my detail notes and will surely be posting entries about each running day in the near future.  But to start you off (and perhaps whet your appetite for my future entries), here are some basic statistics from the run:

Total Miles Covered:  318.6

Average mileage per day:  35.4

Total Time Running:  78 hrs, 18 mins, 14 secs

Avg pace:  14:45/mile

Number of steps taken:  550,000

Pairs of shoes used:  3 (in rotation)

Times we actually crossed the Hudson River:  5

Number of times I fell: 1

Total Calories burned:  approximately 32,000

Ounces of fluids taken in while running:   about 1000 (8 gallons)

Number of beers I drank:  15  (but only 1 while actually running)

Number of times I wanted to quit:  at least 3

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Total number of unique crew members:  10

Day One (1) – Catherine Petroski

Day Two (0) – Catherine Petroski (redux)

Day Three (2) – Catherine Petroski (redux), Gail & Marty Ewald

Day Four (0) – Gail & Marty Ewald (redux)

Day Five (2) – Jeff Andrews, Richard D’Ambrosio

Day Six (2) – Michael Oliva, Deanna Culbreath

Day Seven (0) – Richard D’Ambrosio (redux)

Day Eight (2) –  Zoe Correa, Charlie Bennett

Day Nine (1) –  Tammy Goedken

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Total number of unique guest runners (some ran more than once):   60

Day One (3) – Federico Moretto, Tim Kase, Laurie Schweighardt

Day Two (5) – Eric Nilsestuen, Rachel Kimber, Sherry Fraser, Catherine Petroski, Eddie Munoz

Day Four (6) – Randy Goldberg, Kathleen Goldberg, Jim Williams, Patrick Lynskey, Chris Nowak, Chris Varley

Day Five (7) – Chris Nowak (redux), Kim Law, Roxanne Gillen, David Newman, Mary Signorelli, Pat Sorsby, Ed Gillen, Josh Merlis

Day Six (2) – Michael Oliva, Deanna Culbreath

Day Seven (10)– Tom O’Dowd, Frank Colella, Emmy Stocker, Tony Portera, Harry Owens, Roger D’Aquino, Joe DeFlora, Jeff Lease, Conor Jennings, Marie DuSault

Day Eight (9)– Joe Marchesano, Bill Braine, Tara Pipia, Zoe Correa, LTC Scott Chancellor, cadet Keith Buell, cadet Colin Chapman, cadet David Richardson, Charlie Bennett

Day Nine (18) – Tony Portera (redux), Mat Gerowitz, Micah Hoernig, Jonathan Stenger, Kevin Myers, Adam Gerber, Jose Fernandez, Catherine Petroski (redux), Ira Bellach, Karen Braswell, Hideki Kinoshita, Frank Colella (redux), Emmy Stocker (redux), Claudia Osmar, Tennessee Watson, David Halloran, Nancy Oh, Steven ‘Thunder’ Lee, Junko Iwazaki, Tiger Ellen, Steve Lastoe

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Towns and Cities we ran through:   48

  • Newcomb
  • North River
  • North Creek
  • Riparius
  • Thurman
  • Hadley
  • Corinth
  • Glens Falls
  • Northumberland
  • Schuylerville
  • Stillwater
  • Mechanicville
  • Waterford
  • Cohoes
  • Watervliet
  • Albany
  • Glenmont
  • Coeymans
  • West Coxsackie
  • Coxsackie
  • Athens
  • Catskill
  • Malden
  • Saugerties
  • Kingston
  • Port Ewen
  • Highland
  • Milton
  • Marlboro
  • Newburgh
  • New Windsor
  • Cornwall-on-Hudson
  • Highland Falls
  • Fort Montgomery
  • Tomkins Cove
  • Stony Point
  • West Haverstraw
  • Haverstraw
  • Upper Nyack
  • Nyack
  • Grandview-on-Hudson
  • Piermont
  • Palisades, NJ
  • Alpine, NJ
  • Tenafly, NJ
  • Englewood Cliffs, NJ
  • Ft Lee, NJ
  • New York City

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Dear Hudson River: How May I Help You?

It’s been almost three months now since we issued our press release and began the Hudson River Run 2012 campaign in earnest. A lot has been accomplished since early January, but there is still much left to be done. As of today there are only 39 days until I begin the run from Lake Tear of the Clouds!!

A great many of the logistics have been taken care of to this point, with some still outstanding. Our publicity campaign has been going extremely well (we have 4 press clips so far, with more to come). And although there are still quite a few loose ends to tie up, the bulk of the remaining work now lies in the fundraising.

Our goal, as many of you may remember from our first announcement, is to raise a minimum of $50,000, with a top tier goal of $100,000. If you’ve already made a direct donation to the charity, I want to thank you again for your wonderful, heartfelt support. The generosity you’ve put forth is very positive, and will certainly come back to you several times over. This is the way of the Universe.

But with our campaign on Crowdrise standing at just a little under $4000, we still have a long way to go. Ok, so how will we get there? Well, in several ways, actually….

1. Make A Donation
For those of you who have already contributed, I wouldn’t ask you to donate again (unless you were inclined to), but for those who haven’t yet, this is a great opportunity to give back, and also a chance to show others your commitment to selfless things. By giving, you can demonstrate to your friends, colleagues and family that you care about the environment, and the future of your children and grandchildren (if you don’t have children, just humor me) http://www.crowdrise.com/HudsonRiverRun2012

2. Spread The Word And Encourage Others to Donate
This is called ‘casting the net wider’ and is a great way to contribute to the success of any goodwill endeavor. You’ve put your own foot forward, and you probably know at least 10 or 20 others who share your ideals and your willingness to contribute to a future with clean water. All you have to do is forward this link http://www.crowdrise.com/HudsonRiverRun2012 to some of the people in your contacts list who you know won’t be put off by such a note. And here’s what you can tell them:

Email subject line: Can you help protect the Hudson River ?
Email body: My friend Todd Jennings is a runner, and is doing something really special to help protect the Hudson River and its watersheds. Beginning on May 12th, he will run the entire 315-mile length of the Hudson over the course of eight days in an effort to raise $100,000. I have already made a donation to his cause, and I hope you will to. It needn’t be a large pledge; even $10 will do. For you see, if Todd can get several thousand people to give even a small sum, he will hit his goal and the project will be a great success. The non-profit organization that he’s running for is Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, http://www.clearwater.org, and they do great things for the environment. To read more about the details of Todd’s run, you can visit the event Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hudson-River-Run-2012/206616579427914. Please consider making a donation to this terrific cause, just as I have done. Here is the link to his fundraising page: http://www.crowdrise.com/HudsonRiverRun2012

3. Run With Me and Become A Member of Our Fundraising Team!
Yes, that’s right, I am asking for your company for some of the many miles that I will be out there. This is an opportunity for you to be an integral part of what it is we’re doing, and being that I will expect to struggle out there at times, your presence will be a source of great emotional comfort and support. :)  I encourage each and every one of you who is a runner to come out and run part of the course with me. In consideration for that, all I would say is that I encourage you to be a part of the fundraising team as well. All of this cannot be done by one person – “it takes a village” as the old saying goes. So, how do you do this?

Step 1 – Join Crowdrise and then join our Project
If you don’t already have a Crowdrise account, it’s very easy to join – only 5 short fields to fill in, and then a photo. Just go to this link: http://www.crowdrise.com/register/personal/step1/4f7b10b6c28af

After you’ve joined (or logged in if you already have an account), join our project. Go to this link http://www.crowdrise.com/HudsonRiverRun2012, scroll down to the Team section of the page and click the “Join The Team” button. Oh, and don’t forget to be sure that you’ve added a profile pic to your Crowdrise account; this adds legitimacy to you and your effort. Your profile pic will appear in the Team list with all of the rest of us.

Step 2 – Decide Where And How Far You’ll Run
My run is segmented into 8 days, with route summary details and maps for each day shown below. You are welcome to run part or all of any of the legs in the route, but just keep in mind that I unfortunately will not be able to provide you with transportation to/from your starting and finishing points, as we will have a schedule to keep, and besides that, our car will be chock full of all of our supplies.

Day 1 (Sat, May 12th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/50426412
Day 2 (Sun, May 13th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/58739584
Day 3 (Mon, May 14th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/66819644
Day 4 (Tue, May 15th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/69280504
Day 5 (Wed, May 16th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/70112134
Day 6 (Thu, May 17th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/70113372
Day 7 (Fri, May 18th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/70114996
Day 8 (Sat, May 19th) – http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/70116656

Step 3 – Ask For Support
Share your project fundraising page with anyone and everyone you know and love, tell them that you are running with me to support the Hudson River, and ask them for sponsorship. Tell them how many miles you plan to run, and ask for, say $2.00 per mile, or even $1.00 a mile. If, for example, you run 15 miles with me and get 20 people to pledge $2.00/mile, you’ll raise $600 ! See how easy it is?? This is the power of running !!

_________________________________

Well, that about sums it up, I think, at least for now. If you have any questions at all, just ask, and I will answer promptly, OK? Thanks in advance to all of you for your support on this great project. For updates on my training and other stuff related to my running endeavors, visit my blog at http://trailtodd.wordpress.com

Now, let’s go run that river!!!

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542,748 Steps

There’s an old factoid which estimates that in a marathon, a typical runner will take between 40,000 and 50,000 steps.  I remember the first time I read that figure – probably in an issue of Runner’s World magazine – and thinking to myself “Holy crap, that’s a lot of steps!”   Despite my training and my commitment to making it to the finish line of my first marathon (2005 PF Chang’s Rock n Roll Arizona), I couldn’t get that number out of my head.  This meant that each leg would be hitting the pavement 20,000 to 25,000 times.  Each knee, each hip, each foot arch, would be suffering a punishment like they had never known before.  Was the human body, my body, up to the task??   I guess it would be up to fate, and my own mental fortitude, of course.  Ultimately, I did complete all those steps, and made it across the finish line in Phoenix in a time of 3:23:16.  Phew!

But now it’s seven years later, and in addition to the nine marathons that I have run since that day in 2005, I’ve also run a distance of greater than the 26.2 miles no less than six times.  One day last August, in a quest to complete a 100K relay race course as an individual effort, I ran 43.5 miles before ultimately DNFing.  It’s the farthest I had ever run in one day, which is usually cause to celebrate, right?  But I fell short of my goal that day, and in doing so, I learned a lot about managing the effort involved in an ultra run.

In a little more than six weeks – on May 12th to be exact – I will be putting the things I learned last August to task as I attempt to traverse the 315 miles of the Hudson River.  The other day I was thinking about that old figure telling of the number of steps in a marathon, and it compelled me to do the corresponding math on my upcoming river run.   After putting the data through my number cruncher, I arrived at a decidedly daunting answer.   Over the course of the eight days that it will take me to run the river, my feet will hit the road approximately 542,748 times.  Yes, you read that right, that’s well over a half a million steps. A quarter of a million for each leg.

If my head had trouble processing the footfalls involved in completing a marathon, these numbers are, well, inconceivable, I suppose.  And yet, I will “conceive” them by breaking them down into more manageable bites – 65,000 or so at a time.   Relentless forward progress will be the name of the game, for sure.   I will get up each day at about 7:00am and set about the business of the day, which is to knock out the miles until I am at the next ‘pit stop’ on this amazing race…

Wish me luck, and promise to celebrate with me when I get to the finish line on May 19th.  Needless to say, when I get there I’ll be feeling pretty good about myself.  ;)

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A Day of No Wine And No Roses (but it was a sweet run!)

March 10, 2012

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole three weeks since I’ve posted, and now that my oldest son’s birthday, Pi Day and the Ides of March have all passed, I think it high time for a new entry.

My training schedule in the past three months has gone from one that featured runs of 3, 4 and 6 miles to one that typically contains 10-milers, 15’s and even a recent 30 miler (and I still need to do more of those).  But last Saturday, while my youngest son was in his morning aikido class, I took a short run in and around the village of Washingtonville, NY, where my kids live and go to school.  I fell in love with this little town when I moved here in 1999, and although I have moved away, I still have quite an affection for it.

Like many Hudson Valley towns, Washingtonville is old, but it isn’t overly historic in terms of its architecture.  It is a simple, quaint town, where ‘everybody knows your name’ as the saying goes.  The land here was purchased on a government patent by Vincent Matthews in 1721, and the village was settled in the 1730’s.  It bore a couple of different names (“Matthew’s Field” and “Little York”) before ultimately becoming Washingtonville in the early 1800s, named in honor of the late general and first president of the United States, whom legend has it came through and watered his horse at the trough which had been located under the big tree in the center of the village.

Washingtonville isn’t known for much, but it does have the oldest continuously-operating winery in the country, the Brotherhood Winery, whose wines are too sweet for my general taste, but very popular nonetheless.  The most historic structure here is the Moffat Library, endowed by David Moffat (son of one of Washingtonville’s key early citizens, Samuel Moffat), which was dedicated in 1887, and is located in the center of town.  The library suffered heavy damage in the floods that followed Hurricane Irene, and is unfortunately closed at this point, still awaiting the allocation of monies to affect necessary repairs.  No one here seems to know when the library will reopen, and it’s a true shame that the most aesthetically appealing piece of architecture in town lays idle.

Anyway, my run today consisted of a four and a half miler that traversed parts of North St, Ahern Blvd, Bull Rd, all of Moffat Rd, and portions of Goshen Avenue and East Main St.  As always seems to be the case here in this region, there were a smattering of rolling hills to keep me honest, but nothing too steep as to drive my heart rate into the 90% range.

It was a sweet run on a pretty pre-Spring day, and it made me pine for the change in weather that is soon to come.  It hasn’t been a very harsh winter in the Hudson Valley this year, but psychologically speaking, I’ve had enough of it.

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