Friday, April 3, 2015

Opening paragraphs....................................

It seems fitting that my earliest childhood memory entails strife, conflict, and intense emotion.  It also seems appropriate that the Roman Catholic Church was involved.  I was 5 or 6 years old.  My family was out in Michigan visiting during a summer vacation.  I attended a day camp run by a Catholic order, a sort of Bible day camp.  I recall the presence of nuns.  Another little boy started teasing me.  He hit me with a vine, using it in the manner of  a whip.  This infuriated me.  I fought back with a ferocity far beyond the pain I'd absorbed and beyond the bounds of a little boy trying to defend himself.

     I jumped on the kid and started pounding him with my fists.  When he escaped my grasp, I chased the terrified boy around some picnic tables.  The nuns stopped me, but they couldn't staunch my rage, which kept flooding out of me, a deep volcanic upswelling at the injustice of the boy's attack.  I wept and thrashed and couldn't be consoled.  Eventually the  nuns, who despite their experience had never encountered this sort of emotional intensity from a child, had to call my mother to come get me.

      I remember that day:  the stinging thrash of the vine;  the deep green of the grass and trees; the startled white faces of the sisters under their habits; and my outpouring of rage that, even at that young age, I felt coming through me rather than from me.  I sensed that I was a conduit of forces beyond my understanding and perhaps beyond my control.

-Alberto Salazar and John Brant,  14 Minutes:  A Running Legend's Life and Death and Life

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