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Turn it on, turn it up, turn it loose

I went running today, and I feel better for it. I've been coasting for too long, too much on automatic pilot. When I was much younger, I was a take-charge sort of guy. A young man unafraid to take on new challenges and new roles, particularly leadership roles. For instance, some of you may remember, some of you will learn, I was the student director of my senior play and it's not false pride to say that, without me, my senior class would never have gone on a senior trip.

While a lot of people do such things as resume padding, I did them because I wanted to.

In law school, that changed. I did a lot of things because they were interesting. I quickly lost interest, sticking out too many for too long.

Recently, though, that hasn't been the case at all. I am unwilling, for some reason that Freud or Jung might be able to unearth, to take charge of my life in many respects. For a long time, I've been just skirting by, doing what I have to. (One of the many joys of being smart is that my minimal effort often exceeds the mediocre expectations of the crowd.)

Much like the Democratic party, apparently, I fear power and money (perhaps it's just severe distrust). I have been unwilling to take on anything that might involve leadership or money or power.

So baby steps. Today I went running. I haven't been willing to exercise. As I gradually work toward a vegetarian diet and incorporate more exercise, I hope to return to the leader, the young, powerful man I once was. I'm figuring out where to go next.

One thing that I think is related is the fact that you have to have courage in your convictions. Being intelligent means being willing to examine your own motivations and beliefs, and doing it often. So it's difficult to just flat-out say, "I'm right" (Republicans and the religious right have no such quarrels; they firmly believe they are right and the ends just the means in their eyes - this is wherein our problem lies). But I am. And it's time to believe that.

When I in college was working on my senior project, as I neared the end of the process and was increasingly caught up in minutae, my advisor told me of an Arabic proverb that I must remind myself of frequently: "Trust in Allah, but tether your horse." If you don't like the use of Allah, substitute God or, my personal preference, the Universe. It means take charge and control your life, but there comes a point where you have to trust in larger powers than yourself. Things do work out, especially if you deal with what you can. All too often, I fall too far on one side or the other. I either trust the Universe too much and become unwilling to take charge or accept responsibilty, or I focus too much on very little things, get consumed by details, "the small stuff," in common parlance, and fail to see the forest for the trees.

So: Trust in Allah, but tether your horse.

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