On race horses … and bad clams

June 27th, 2015 1:35 am

First Posted: 3/28/2013

Running with Joe Majeski was always exercise for my mind as well as for my body.

You think you don’t know Joe Majeski but you do. For several years he drew the editorial page cartoons for the Sunday Dispatch and The Times Leader.

But his talent doesn’t end with his keen wit and ability to draw. He’s also a classic guitar player.

And, by the way, a doctor.

Joseph Majeski, M.D., is a dermatologist with a practice in Clarks Summit. He and his wife, Diane, a pharmacist, are parents of four lovely, and incredibly bright and accomplished daughters.

But enough on Majeski. This story isn’t about him. It’s about something he said one day while we were running.

Our regular 3 to 5 mile jaunts were a lot like two friends just getting together for coffee, except we both were sweating and sometimes gasping for air. Most of the time, however, we were conversing, running along and chatting as though we were side-by-side at the counter in a donut shop.

Joe, who seems to be interested in everything, always had a fresh topic. This particular day it was the race horse.

He had seen a documentary on TV describing the race horse as the perfect running machine and couldn’t wait to tell me about it. Man, Joe said, will never be able to run like a horse and it’s not because the horse has four legs and we only two. Joe said it all came down to the horses’s practically perfect lungs and how they act as a veritable bellows blowing out carbon dioxide.

Peak athletic performance is all about utilizing oxygen to its fullest and, Joe explained, what makes the horse a perfect runner is not how well it breathes in oxygen, but how thoroughly it gets rid of cardon dioxide. See, when those “bellows” expell carbon dioxide so efficiently, it creates a vacuum in the horse’s lungs which causes oxygen to come rushing in at an amazing rate. And with all that oxygen to help burn calories into energy, the race horse flies.

Not literally, of course, but you know what I mean.

I, an armchair philosopher if ever there were one, took that bit of info and, well, ran with it.

There is something to be learned, I reasoned immediately, in blowing out the bad to make room for the good, and, no, we’re not talking about breathing any more.

How often do we harbor bad feelings refusing to let them go? I’ll answer that in one word: always.

We might forgive — a rare feat in itself — but do we forget? Not often. In fact, most of us tend to keep our bad feelings right in our hip pocket, taking them out and examining them on a regular basis. Nuturing them almost, lest they might disappear.

Well, the lesson to be learned from the race horse is that such bad feelings, i.e. grudges, are the carbon dioxide that we really need to expell, and damn fast, if we want good to come rushing into our lives. When all the bad is gone, be it cardon dioxide or a 10-year-old grievance, the good cannot help but roar in and fill the void.

Which leads me to bad clams.

My wife has been an operating room nurse for more years that she’d want me to mention. During that time, she has experienced many occasions when a patient’s stomach had to be pumped due to food poisoning. “You’d be surprised,” she’s said more than once, “how many patients will say ‘I knew that clam was bad the minute I put it into my mouth.’ And I will ask, ‘Then why the heck did you swallow it?’”

To me, spitting out a bad clam is no different from exhaling bad air, and is no different from forgiving and truly forgetting.

Out with the bad. In with the good.

It’s simple.

And appropriate on Easter Sunday.

I’ve often said if you can’t believe that Christ was the son of God, then at least try to listening to his teachings. Central to those teaching is forgiveness.

Someone does you wrong? Well, do yourself a favor and spit out that bad clam as fast as you can. Swallow it — take it to heart — and you’re in for a heap of trouble. Spit it out and it’s like it never happened.

In doing this you will free up a lot of space in your heart. Grudges take up room, not to mention energy. But once they are gone, just as with the race horses’s lungs, the vacuum created will suck in nothing but goodness.

And just like the race horse, it will happen without you even thinking about it.

And, therefore, just like the race horse, you too will fly.

Not literally, of course, but you know what I mean.