Sound of the Day: What if I Couldn’t Ask ‘What if?’

I told the story on an earlier Field of Steve podcast about a moment of personal infamy on the football field. That story dealt with all the things that led up what, to me, was a decision to fail. What I didn’t get into in any great detail is what might have happened had I succeeded. I might have played more as the season wore on. I might have had other moments of glory that year.

It never occurred to me that one of the main reasons I think about that is because the English language gives me the ability to speak about that.

That’s because we have what we call the “subjunctive” case. Phuc Tran, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Vietnam, discusses how some of what we employ as language gives us strength, or limits us in ways we had not imagined. He says his parents’ Vietnamese language doesn’t have subjunctive, so they don’t have the burden of worrying about what might have been. The link here gives you access to the TED Radio Hour segment on Tran’s talk, and video of the talk itself. I do recommend.

The resolution will not be televised

Nothing about what the woman said to me this morning should have bothered me and in the moment I took it as a timely way to say “Hello” on the trail. As the day wore on it ate at me, though, because the comment reflected nothing of what I accomplished in 2013, or how what I was doing was part of a long process, not the start of anything.

From the outset I should be clear that the woman was just being friendly. That I’m bothered by what she said is more about me than her. But I went jogging on the Clear Creek Trail this morning and the woman, who was walking with her partner, said “New Year’s Resolution” to me. I laughed, failing to come up with something that better reflected the truth in a 2-second sound bite.

It is undoubtedly true that the gyms are fuller today and will be more crowded for the next few weeks. Hordes of folks set resolutions to get healthier now that the new year has begun. People are dieting, managing their money, giving up soda, exercising and throwing out cigarettes. It’s true that most will fail. Perhaps that’s what bothered me most, the implication in her statement that in a few weeks the trail is the last place I’ll be found.

But here’s the truth of my place on the trail. That path has become a familiar place for me. It is true that I didn’t get there much in December and that my weight loss efforts endured a setback in the last couple of weeks. I did not do nearly as well as I wanted during the holidays. No matter. I’m back to doing what helped me lose 95 pounds last year. I’m eating differently and I’m exercising.

This morning’s run was not part of some resolution; it was training for the half-marathon I’m signed up to run in October. A half-marathon has been part of the plan all along, as is a marathon. I signed up for the half event weeks ago, long before the new year, so the suggestion that what I was doing was some half-baked effort that will flame out in weeks was just wrong.

Then again, the only way to prove it is to prove it. So here I go. See you on the trail, at the gym and at my half-marathon.