Inspiration – Beyond the Hype

I spend a considerable amount of time either sitting on an exercise bike or on a treadmill and have done so for a good number of years.  While the health benefits are obvious, that is not the point of this post.  While at some level I enjoy this often uncomfortable 45-50 minutes, it isn’t something that I could successfully maintain without some other form of diversion to take away some of the discomfort it inevitably brings.  While I have often managed to use my iPod to take away complete attention on the minutes or miles remaining. it is really having a TV in front of me that helps the time pass most easily and I often find myself viewing programs I might not typically watch at other times – mostly a result of channel surfing given the time of day varies and  the TV offerings also are usually varied.  I’ll usually give most any show that looks interesting (and that could also mean different) as shot for at least a few minutes.  As a result, I often find shows early on in their run, often before they become “hits” – like Pawn Stars or Deadliest Catch.   I also sometimes stumble across something that piques my interest, intellect or emotions enough that it stays with me beyond my exercise routine that day.  Today was one of those days.

I have often felt I could have done more with my life if I had more motivation or drive.  I’ve done great and have accomplished much beyond anything I ever imagined.  But, as an individual, you always wonder about what more you could have done with a bit more discipline, less excuses, not as much rationalization.  I think we, individually and as a society, find no shortage in reasons why we can’t do something or why things aren’t different.  We imagine obstacles to be bigger than they often are.  We find excuses at every turn.  And I am not that different.  When things are tough and I think a situation or problem is really a big deal, when I’m thinking clearly I manage a perspective about how easy I really have it and how lucky I really am in most every aspect of my life.  I try to teach my kids the same thing – when you think you have it bad, look around.  It’s not hard to find something or someone who really has challenges and whose attitude and approach to life is one to not only admire but from which to take inspiration and perspective.   Today on the exercise bike I watched one of those shows that made it very clear.

As I moved up the channels as I got into my routine, I stopped on one of the ESPN channels this morning as I saw on the TV screen a young man in a gym wrestling.  Not something I would usually spend a second on.  But this young man had an obvious physical disability.  He is an amputee – not always immediately obvious but this one was as he is a congenital  amputee.  He has no forearms and no legs.  But here was an person who overcame something that would have been a great excuse for not achieving most anything.  I won’t try to share his story as there is entirely too much I would likely miss.  His name is Kyle Maynard and he now works as a speaker for the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, specializing in motivational speeches.  He spends considerable time with our severely disabled from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  I suggest a stop at his website to get the entire story – .   His story and the triumphs in his life are food for thought and lessons and perspectives we can and should keep in front of us when we think times are tough.  For the vast majority of us, they never really are.

Here is a video that should start your inspiration….


Memorial Day – Lest we Forget

Today is an important day – one where we recognize all the service men and women whom have stepped up and put their lives on the line in order to service our nation and protect our country.  No matter your view of war or our country, let it not be forgotten the sacrifice and dedication of these individuals and let us not forget our obligation to make sure their needs are not ignored nor are they shortchanged.  In particular, those people who have taken up the cause in Afghanistan and Iraq should be in particular focus.  Never have we seen the this large a percentage of active forces who have returned injured and disabled.  The backlog of cases is staggering and the outcry is too silent.  In reading some of the statistics and data this morning, I’m was blown away by the devastation to people’s lives and the amount of money we give for someone 100% disabled.  Take a guess and I expect you will find yourself equally astounded.  For current service people who are deemed 100% disabled, they are given less than $2,800 a month.  In consideration of what these men and women have done and their level of sacrifice, this is a sin beyond belief.  We should look long and hard at our values as a nation.  Whether for or against the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, this should be a rally point for our people – Memorial Day should always evoke more than patriotism and waving of flags.  It is a time to also put our money where our mouth is.

This should also be a time that invokes remembrance of who got us into these two wars.  It is amazing that aside from the degree of damage and destruction to the people who fought the wars, the impact on our economy and the long-lasting costs to our country should cause everyone to stop and remember the administration that made the decision to go to war, the administration who lied to everyone, the administration with an obvious personal agenda – it is the administration that should be tagged as it deserves for the mayhem and pain that resulted.  But to be honest, it is really about two men who could and should be thought of as war criminals – George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are undoubtedly the worse of the bunch but let’s not forget John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Karl Rove – the list is long and the competence is short.  What a group of fucking bastards.    This is one of the few areas where I can hope my views as an atheist are wrong – and that they all get to burn in hell.