Friday, January 20, 2006

Life in the key of G

Life in the Key of G

After reading Ansai Boys by Neil Gaiman, I believe that life is a song. We sing of those that have come before us, their deeds and their memories. We listen to trance of meetings, hum with the beats of our days, and, in our luckier moments, dance to tune of love.

The past few months I have been living in the key of G, the one that best straddles both the major and minor scales. I have date and was dumped; I have struggled against a year-end deadline at work but came out with only a few scars. The chords of victory and defeat clashed, but it feels this holiday music is over and the Christmas gifts and New Years promises have been put away. A new allegro midwinter movement has started. The refrain is about a hill.

I have signed up for another 50k ski race and the first five miles is up hill. If the state were Delaware I would feel good, but the race is in Alaska, and they know hills, the way that say Idaho knows potatoes, Minnesota knows lakes, and California knows expensive housing. The state is big in a way that gives Texas an inferiority complex. It is the frontier where there are documentaries of how people get mauled by bears and Jack London short stories of how someone froze unable to build a fire.

The hill should seem familiar, because I go up to the Sierra’s on alternate weekends to practice the skating motion of cross country skiing. When done correctly it has the gracefulness of a waltz with each stride and poll plant in synch with three quarters time. Given my natural staccato disposition, I am learning the dance slowly. And in much the same way in junior high I developed my footwork to the B52’s Rock Lobster and Skynards’ Free Bird, I know that most of the time I look foolish, but the only way to get better is to practice.

The hill should seem familiar, because I have been running the Lyon street steps with a ski conditioning class. I know they must think I am crazy because the class is meant for downhill training, and I keep telling them it is same imaginary snow. I just hope they think I am a good kind of Bay Area crazy that signs up for distance events as opposed to the other kind that wanders Market Street with signs about support for seven races of space aliens.

The hill should seem familiar, because I have been doing endurance sports for a while. This is my eighth year doing an event with Team in Trainingand I have done more than a few others that weren’t for a cancer research fundraiser. Granted not all of my attempts have been successful, because some races are like trying to bust a move to J Giels Band’s Love Stinks or pretty much anything by Phil Collins. These are never good ideas.

The hill should seem familiar, because I think the mid thirties is a Sisyphean struggle. Between pushing and polling we hope our careers and families will move ever upward despite whatever turns we encounter. The constant coldness is offset by the scenery we can see out of the corner of our glasses. The place is beautiful if we could just rest for a few minutes. I think these are the same climbs as we had in our twenties, but we now have much better gear.

The hill should seem easy. But I worry about it, because after its crescendo there is still left a marathon until I am home. And that is another song to learn.