18 April 2013

Michael James : Moving Right Along

Rapid rolling wheels at U.S. Track and Field Championships, Haywood Field, Eugene, Oregon, 1993. Photo by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James'  Pictures from the Long Haul.
Pictures from the Long Haul:
Rapid rolling wheels and
the momentum of Boston
For me the Boston bombings have kindled memories, images, and observations of people who -- despite their challenges -- go about their lives with an apparent good attitude.
By Michael James / The Rag Blog / April 18, 2013

[In this series, Michael James is sharing images from his rich past, accompanied by reflections about -- and inspired by -- those images. This photo will be included in his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James' Pictures from the Long Haul.]

I am truly inspired by the outpouring of concern, support, and action over the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Many incidents and events have saddened me, but his one is leaving a big impact -- on many of us. This morning on AOL's top stories there was a picture of a disabled athlete offering to counsel those injured in Boston. It triggered finding and posting this picture of athletes in their rapid rolling wheels.

For me the Boston bombings have kindled memories, images, and observations of people who -- despite their challenges -- go about their lives with an apparent good attitude.

I remember a trip to the old Soviet Union and seeing a woman with no legs, but moving around on a small wooden platform with tiny wheels. There were no banked inclines on sidewalks there.

I recall a trip with my son Jesse James to Oaxaca in the 1980's where we hung out with a man from Los Angeles who lived most of his waking hours in a wheel chair. For a week I watched and admired him -- his mental, spiritual, and upper-arm strength in going through his daily activities. At Loyola Park in Chicago I have watched the so-impressive full tilt basketball games played by 10 guys in wheel chairs. I remember the marathons I've run, and those I've watched, and seeing the disabled athletes who compete.

I am thinking now about people I've observed -- whether physically-, emotionally-, spiritually-, or economically-challenged -- who go about their lives with a strong will and positive attitude. Everywhere I've been and gone I am impressed too by old folks carrying on in their backside of the mountain years.

I was at the U.S. Track and Field Championships at Haywood Field, Eugene, Oregon in 1993. All the athletes inspired me, but especially those in the rapid rolling wheels. My pal Gordon Thomson, then the track and field coach at Loyola University, had invited me to the Championships. Haywood Field was the home track of the legendary runner Steve Prefontaine, who was tragically killed in a car accident in the hills above Haywood after a track meet. We visited the accident site and paid our respects.

Power to the people, especially those many who carry on through thick and thin. Thank you. Thanks too to all who inspire!

[Michael James is a former SDS national officer, the founder of Rising Up Angry, co-founder of Chicago's Heartland Café (1976 and still going), and co-host of the Saturday morning (9-10 a.m. CDT) Live from the Heartland radio show, here and on YouTube. He is also president of the local progressive 49th Ward Democratic Party, a member of the Screen Actors Guild, a board member of Athletes United for Peace, and on the advisory panel of the organic watchdog organization, The Cornucopia Institute. He is reachable by one and all at michael@heartlandcafe.com. Find more articles by Michael James on The Rag Blog.]

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