Playing Jazz with Words

In my line of work (mediocre desk job, mediocre cycling skills, mediocre discipline for all things greasy and stimulating) good things do not come in a string of events often. I could be making progress in one aspect then realize the lack of attention in another. An even rarer instance is when a string of events happen that go well. So much so that when plans are so successful, a knee-jerk dose of paranoia hits to make sure your head doesn’t get too far in the clouds.

Take this weekend for example. A series of “hell yeah!”‘s were had to the point that I had no choice but to consider the fact that this was clearly too good to be true. Never have I felt so comfortable in my skin and at the same time I cannot let myself fall completely sold on the idea that a fun filled weekend cannot be balanced without some negativity. I wonder why this may be my common response. Perhaps it has something to do with that tender, nostalgic state of bliss as a kid. 

I had mentioned in a previous post that there was a hay day in my childhood that I find when I resort back to recollect, I become overwhelmed with existential emotions. That childhood bliss is filled with powerful emotions that when rediscovered can have you in a pool of your own tears quickly. Trying to reignite that feeling can lead to some dark, and embarrassing paths that were most likely a bad idea to begin with (mainly because nostalgia is a poison.)

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve gotten the closest to this same type of intensity through my own experiences. Some may be based on previous childhood experiences (a trip to Raging Waters, which I’ve been to for several (of my own) birthdays) but have not lead me to reconfigure my lifestyle to get that same hit of nostalgia along a familiar (and beaten) path. 

I’ve got some great friends that don’t need me to give a long winded speech to go detail by detail on how much ass they kick. You know a bond is strong when the vivid words you’re thinking don’t need to be said to be understood. The same goes for immediate family. While it may be somebody else’s turn to do some growing up ( my siblings of course, I’m never growing up) things seem to work out in their own slightly dysfunctional, but enjoyable way.

Until next time…. 

Spring Cleaning

Time to dust this thing off….

Gran fondo, multi-strada, adventure ride. These are a few examples of an ongoing trend that is continuing to increase in popularity. I must admit when I was first introduced to this concept, I did not fully understand why someone would want to participate in these types of rides. A little bit of context to the typical structure:

  • They are usually in the triple-digit price range.
  • They offer many organized rest stops and sag support every once in a while. 
  • There is usually no additional road closure for the duration of the ride. 

This isn’t including the details of the ride itself. Now before I swing things back in a positive direction, I want to set a scene that may cause some apprehension to your everyday, routine cyclist. I too was in this same camp for some time. That is until I discovered a little more context. 

Try and follow me on this one, but these longer duration, structured rides are not just about the ride (I know, strange concept right?) It is more about the grand scheme of things. One must take into consideration the scenery that is covered over the course of the route. While some (most people I know) like to see how fast they can complete the event, the understanding I have come to conclude is that if the participant just takes into account a portion of the ride profile and scenery along with the offered rest stops and ride support, the entire event can be a pleasant experience. 

Rides like San Diegos Belgian Waffle Ride has grown tremendously in popularity despite a recent issue involving the placement of podium girls that was uncomfortable to say the least. That being said, these over four hour death marches seem to be popping up more and more. Often times rides will mix the terrain of Tarmac and dirt, adding an added challenge to the rider. It’s mixes of terrain that start to get my attention and get my heart going. 

These rides are long, tough, and (in my observations) brought out the sadistic strongmen the sport has come to know, admire, and be known for. When I was first trying to figure the appeal of rides like these, a term was mentioned to me that I believe defines the appeal perfectly. 

“Spirited social” was what was put down for this weekend’s birthday trudge through a mix of dirt and concrete roads that just tipped the century scales. Spirited implies that the pace will not be a yawn-fest that will take all day. And social means that people won’t be dropping the hammer so hard that those around them won’t be able to say more than three words at a time without gasping for air. This Goldie Locks setting lift the majority of social pressures that come from conventional bike racing. The fast riders get to go fast, and the slower riders get to go at their own pace. All without anyone getting their feelings hurt. It’s the best of both worlds and all parties are aware (and have a blast the majority of the time.)

This has recently sparked some seriously nerdy bike take and fascination for myself personally. I do genuinely enjoy this and am currently more drawn to this type of cycling than traditional USAC or fixie events. I would go as so far as to say that these cool-guy fondos are to road / mountain / cross riders what fixed gear criteriums are to the fixie crowd. Multiple disciplines get to have their cake and eat it too. I am getting a much bigger sense of satisfaction and wholeness in these type of rides at the moment and look forward to see what the future has to offer. What an exciting time to be alive. 

Until next time….

That Escalated Quickly

Just when you thought you were an adult….

I consider myself a mature adult. My soul might be a generation or two ahead of me, but nonetheless, a quiet, mature, twenty-something with a Peter Pan complex is how I identify myself. I live on my own and hold down a steady job. All the normal grown-up things most of us do in our day to day lives. This morning I came home from work to continue the day indoors, making best of the weather. Decided to see what was on everyone’s favorite online TV programming Netflix and to my luck came across a title I recognized right away.

We’re back: a Dinosaur Story is an animated film from my childhood years that tells the story of one man who wishes to make the wishes of children come true with these elaborate inventions, one of which he gets living dinosaurs to rapidly evolve and become intelligent beings with advanced emotions, human speech, and problem-solving abilities (pretty much humanizing dinosaurs.) I won’t go much further in the plot since that isn’t the point of the story. The point is I successfully made it ten minutes into the movie when a significant time in my childhood was revealed and all at once, a flood of emotions capsized and floored me.

There were a lot of tears. Tears I welcomed for a few minutes while basking in the nostalgia of an extroverted David who wore his emotions on his sleeve and found a state of bliss through animated movies and all the normal responsibilities of someone in their single digits. Then after that I realized that the sounds and sights of the film kept the nostalgia on with full force. I couldn’t help but bawl my eyes out with no restrain. A few things crossed my mind at this point.

  • Am I going to cry through this entire movie?
  • What does this say about how happy I once was as a child and where I am now?

“So I did what I imagine most adults would do at a time like this. I turned it off and continued to internalize my emotions.”

Mind you, this is not a particularly sad story. More of a feel good piece for children to consider what it would be like to live and have a conversation with dinosaurs and consider what your wishes were. It was becoming increasingly clear that I was not going to make it to the end of this movie without a box of tissue and a serious tolerance for tears. So I did what I imagine most adults would do at a time like this. I turned it off and continued to internalize my emotions. Now onto thought number two.

The reason I decided to not buckle down and cry it out for the next hour or so of the movie was because this experience sparked some sincere concern on my emotional well-being. Two things I couldn’t get out of my head were, this makes me so happy, and, why don’t I feel this heightened sense of happiness in any other aspect of life right now? This movie gave me such a strong sense of comfort and enjoyment (which still obviously still does to this day) that it got me reevaluating my life. The weight of the world had been lifted after I had begun watching the movie. All of a sudden, I had abandoned the thoughts of adulthood and quickly entered a world where finances, personal image, and making productive steps towards one’s future were secondary. All of these strong emotions combined with the short amount of time it took to trigger such a response begins to explain why this ended up happening.

Perhaps this buckled with the fact that my childhood is over and will never return left me feeling sad and kept the flood gates open. I still don’t know what to make of this. I’d like to explore this emotional reaction in more detail, but know it’s going to take some time. I’ve always kept some distance between things I have identified strongly with as a kid in fear of triggering reactions like this or falling into a hole of repeated behaviors to try and get that feeling to return much like the addict trying to recreate the first hit all over again. Something tell me there will be a time and a place to explore this chapter in my life. I got to look in and see what a strong reaction like this feels like and admitting was caught off guard and unprepared. Today is my day off and much when I reach a physical or emotional state of significant progress, I like to reward myself. I’ll be keeping things mellow but will continue to try and trigger similar (hopefully less intense) reactions and make the best of this less than perfect weather.

Until next time….

 

Keep on Keepin’ on

Its not working out. We should separate. We have grown apart. Right now, I am happier without you.

Some of you may have said or had the unfortunate pleasure of receiving a phrase or two that’s been mentioned. Phrases like these often come up in failing relationships. Sadly, the ship has probably sunk by the time someone mentions this to you. I am using the context of a relationship as an analogy for another relationship between my personal feelings towards cycling.

Right in time for the start of a new season, a wave of burnout hits. I try and explain things along the lines of, “There was a time when being competitive was more enjoyable and I had the mental strength to press on. Right now that is not the case.” There were subtle signs that this was coming, and I failed to acknowledge them. Not that big of a deal as I have been through this before. I guess it’s better to know when you’re in a hole than when you’re not.

After the problems have been acknowledged by the feuding couple, there lies a fork in the road as to how the two can approach a solution. To continue to press on for the sake of a happiness that you’ve adopted into your lifestyle, or to reconsider whether or not you’re in the right place in your life. There is a sliver of foresight in trudging on to fix the issue. A nostalgic feeling of an emotional high and the sense of satisfaction after reconnecting. Most of us have the ability to see that things can get better than the way they’re going on at the time.

Once reality sets in, the issue that you have faced now becomes a part of your life. Some (not enough) people accept their fates and let go of the stigmas that come from dealing with things like social norms, failure, gender roles, and communication. These lucky few tend to be much happier about their day to day experiences and begin to remove the mountain of stress that can come from a dark place.

To tie things all together here, the moment we accept our flaws and begin looking for long-term, effective solutions towards something with we are unhappy the better. For myself and my idle bike latency, I am familiar with what needs to be done in order to correct the behavior and reignite the spark I once had. For some it is best to ride things out, be patient, and wait for the right opportunity and inspiration to strike before delving back into a mental routine whether it be a relationship, a craft, or a career.

There is no way I am taking up a new discipline. It is too late and I’ve been at such emotional highs that I don’t want to know what else is out there in hopes of a better experience. Cycling is important to me. In order to get better and continue to prosper, I need to read my own damn advice by letting go and going through the right steps to keep moving.

Philo-socio Rant

When it comes to most relationships (preferably those with some social foundation of 6 months or longer) I cannot help but begin to explore the ideas of how this came to be, and notice trends that come as a result of time spent together. Below is an idea I’ve thought about for some time and can be conceived as plausible from a philosophical sense.

 Imagine two circles. Each circle will represent a person. Each circle is unique in it’s own way, but both still remain standard definitions of a circle. When two people begin to acquaint, that is symbolic of two circles moving closer to one another.

You can probably tell which direction this is headed. Yes it’s true, the more we get to know someone in how they behave or what makes them tick and show interest in them, we begin to exchange our own personal experiences and character traits in order to continue to engage in the relationship. Eventually we tend to rub off on the other person. Some turn of phrase or thought process this other circle holds begins to creep into your own circle and things then begin to look like a Venn diagram. Nothing too unusual is going on here. Things like this happen. I consider it a part of the growth process as individuals. There may be a certain outlook originally shared by someone else that you now identify with and have made it your own. Again, we’re not breaking new ground here. This happens all the time whether it be with a significant other, a roommate, a co-worker, a boss, or a parent. What has recently caught my attention is the step(s) that tend to come after.

Going back to the circle analogy, at this point our two circles have meshed with one another and our Venn diagram continues to hold true. Some would argue that the remaining time spent in said relationship the circles will continue to get closer or further away, only this time the speed at which this change happens is reduced. We tend to reach a certain point where we have an idea of the way this person functions and no longer continue as active a pursuit to learn the more intimate details the way a circle behaves.

The phenomenon I have noticed is that based on the direction that things are going, we expect a certain outcome (perhaps the two circles becoming one, or completely separating.) Neither of these tend to be the case. I have noticed that not only do the circles begin to adapt to one another, they switch places entirely. Instead of a consensual pairing, this relationship becomes more of an exchange. Much like a virus duplicates its own DNA into the host, we as human beings copy similar behaviors. I have seen work relationships to where bosses have transposed their character onto staff below them in the ranks. So much so that the fascist dictator of a boss and the rebellious worker have completely switched places psychologically. I believe the same to be true with most, if not all types of relationships of considerable length.

A mutation of sorts takes place. I imagine somebody out there has reached a point in their lives when they catch themselves acting a way their parents would react in a given situation. For me this realization is usually met with surprise, anger, sadness, and acceptance (in that order.) I know this is getting pretty analogy heavy, but we as humans have a habit of shaping those close to us in our own mental (and sometimes physical) image. It may not be as black and white as some may imagine. Often times it is subtle to the point that once the bulk of it is over, we are still unaware and oblivious to what has happened. “You’ve changed.” or, “You’ve turned into ______” may come up in conversation as a result. Other times, when we are faced in a particular situation and have already responded we’ll take a step back and begin to freak out at how (insert name) – like your tone of voice or the cadence in your response was.

Human beings are weird creatures. It is social exchanges like these that seem to be a part of the human condition. Why we do this is a mystery. That being said, I feel that one can only speculate so much on these topics until we let things ride. Even if there was a solid, logically explanation for why we do certain things like this, what purpose does it serve? And how will this change the way we continue to behave? Maybe things like this aren’t meant to be fully understood. Why do we need to know how deja vu works? For myself, most of the fun and pleasure comes from being able to identify what it is that is going on around us. If I feel that I have something to gain from said observation, I’ll continue to explore the idea. Other than that, it’s a fun thought experiment I do to occupy my time and stay fresh. Until next time….

-dfj

 

 

How to Appeal to an Introvert

People say to write what you know. Having identified with this personality type, I consider myself well educated on the topic.

Often times we as humans tend to skip the sometimes impractical insightful attitudes with our peers and skip to our knee-jerk thoughts. I would imagine because for one they are convenient (just describe how you feel) and they are fresh in our heads (like a vegetable just picked from the soil.) While it may be nutritious and enjoyable, we cannot simple dive into it without a little time to process and refine the fruits of our labor. That being said, the same goes in the social setting. Some of us might be able to live our lives not being completely aware of our actions, thoughts, and decisions in our lives. Others (myself included) not so much. I have been thinking of some qualities to help those who want to get their cheesy Instagram messages out there to motivate others to “Be all they can be” and to “Just hang in there.” Here are a few key concepts to take into consideration when appealing to your fellow introvert.

Present your thing

This may seem like a given, but let me expand a little bit on this idea. It is hard to go through life and not be persuaded to purchase something we may or may not want on a daily basis. People have conjured up entire curriculum and careers of marketing to push a product onto others. While some of these techniques may work to sum, the majority of approaches are exhausting for us quiet types. We all have a friend who is constantly pitching some product whether it be a new bike, a book, some lifestyle choice, or a political ideology. The exhausting part isn’t necessarily that they do this, but how it is done. If you have ever spent longer than a week trying to play your hand in the dating world, you are all too familiar with the initial “getting to know each other” phase. This introductory step applies the same when appealing to your peers. Through my own experiences and observing fellow introverts around me, I believe I can say that in order to maximize this appeal, simply cut to the chase and present your point (thing) as concise as possible. If you have ever been stopped by someone promoting their own religious or political beliefs, than you too have experienced these introductory questions that frankly beat around the bush and waste both parties time. I would love it if someone would ask if I was interested in practicing (insert religion, political affiliation, or a career in real estate) right off the bat. That way, we all know what that person’s intentions are, and can decide for ourselves whether we want to continue this conversation or not.

Minimal eye contact

Never have I been talking to someone and thought to myself, “Jeez, I felt really nervous at the start but once I looked directly into their eyes I felt that I could let my guard down and give that person my undivided attention and all the money in my wallet.” Short, digestible glances are preferred and give both parties time to gather themselves for the next type of engagement. We all know how powerful starting in someone’s eyes can be. So when considering the social battle for power, someone who feels obligated to keep a continuous stare on someone else is attempting to posture their power over someone. This is effective almost all of the time if the person chooses to engage back. There lies the problem when appealing to the quiet types. After we have acknowledged what your intentions are, and that you won’t look at something else other than our faces, we (well, I) will disconnect right away. Introverts have a short tolerance for these types of social engagements and while you may feel like you’re winning someone over with your irresistible charm,  you are in fact doing the exact opposite and detouring from a fundamental goal of making someone feel comfortable.

Limit side-tracking / anecdotes

Personal experiences can be a great opportunity to get someone on your side and on your side when offering advice or a recommendation. The problem with this is that people tend to jump the gun when deciding to throw in a personal testimonial. As powerful a tool this may be, the key to executing this is timing. If you believe that your personal experiences are what will win people over, please stop to consider whether or not this is something they want to hear. All of us as human beings are able to go on and on about our personal experiences if we choose to go down that figurative road. Hell, most of us are intrigued by storytelling in all of its forms with the new generation of podcasts and other social applications. The difference here is we are making a mindful choice to engage with one another, which brings me to my next point.

Let us decide on our own

This is probably the most important point of this whole post. The ole, “Come on, what’ll it be?” and “come on down and, (buy this car, phone, timeshare, bicycle)” approach is frightening and genuinely uncomfortable. I can’t imagine a setting in which this pushy style of persuasion can provide a pleasant experience. The last thing an introvert wants to be told is what to do. I cannot stress this enough. Most of our decisions in life have been given some amount of thought and with as much energy as these choices require, asking us to change our minds or go about things in a different way is rude and inconsiderate. I personally have become aware of this selfish approach and will not cater to the egos that are present. I am more likely to disconnect from people who try and go about this path sooner than most. The ideology behind this stems from our emotional energies. We have a finite amount and are drained from them from the moment we leave the house. That being said, this is a precious resource and we do not wish to waste it being told to “never give up” and “keep going” and “be all you can be.”

In summary

If this entire post has been a dense and confusing approach, allow me to concentrate and condense my point. If there is a single piece of advice I can offer that summarizes all of these points, it would be to be a good listener. You could have the best piece of advice for someone that could change their lives forever. This is a big deal and should be treated accordingly. In order to execute the perfect move to win someone over (in any setting) is to wait for the right time to present your thing. Listen and see if someone is first off trying to ask for your thoughts on the matter. Mainstream media disregards this completely and shoves their marketing techniques down our throats whether we wish to hear from them or not. Don’t be a commercial. You are a human being. You are capable of empathy and have the ability to change peoples minds (a very strong tool.) People might be sympathetic and say you “motivate” them to be friendly. However I personally imagine that this may be easy to say, our idle actions show that no one is convinced they should leave their comfort zones.

Please reconsider your approach when talking with someone who may want to genuinely hear your thoughts on a specific topic, or just want you to be a wall and listen (keep in mind walls do not talk back.) The net time you’re talking with someone, try and acknowledge what they’re saying without including yourself in the topic of discussion. (WHAT?! But I have so many stories and I know that what I have to say about my own experiences will get my point across and change their mind.) This is the exact behavior I am describing as unappealing for most people. I am curious to hear the findings of someone who chooses to not directly include themselves in the conversation. In my personal experiences, this is an incredibly powerful and therapeutic tool for all parties. Who knows, maybe more people will want to talk to you and your Instagram stats will go through the roof.

-dfj

Reflect on Surroundings

This body is telling me that their legs need a break. So, I sit and reflect on immediate surroundings

Being a twenty-something has proven to have more pros than cons. Privileges present themselves in subtle and rewarding ways. Not in the same polarizing way as a middle-aged adult demands respect from their younger counterparts, but in a similar ballpark as such. This age field has come to be the point in time in which we know what we like and what we don’t like. We as humans know whom we want to surround ourselves with (and here’s the best part) we act on those feelings. If you no longer wish to be around a group of friends you were once tight with in high school or any other formal / informal setting, there is no social stigma that compels you to stick around that group. Talk about a liberating time to be alive.

The reason I bring this up is because through being mindful of my own decision making ability on a social level, I have come to notice that there are ideas and concepts I have grown away from, and others I can’t seem to find an rational reason to shed these views. Social norms have less of an effect on my decision making on a day to day basis. It may come off as harsh or cold from time to time, but my views on the world (at this point in time) are important to me and should be respected. While this may appear like a setup into a bigoted rant on the state of Europe and the middle east (don’t worry, I’ll return to this in a bit) I assure you, it is not. I will admit that I am not formally educated enough to hold an opinion I would be able to stand behind in conversation, so, I will abstain from touching up on the issue in direct detail. Which brings me to my next point (must. stay. on. topic.)

An example of a concept that I can’t seem to shake with age and insight is (and is the main theme and purpose of this post) is redundancy. Redundancy has been a figurative thorn in my side for most of my life. All forms to an extent are met with low tolerance in my head (coming from the guy who rides a bicycle hours on end in the same areas of southern California.) Conversations are a medium in which I am hyper-aware of repetition. Most social exchanges have a flow in which people share thoughts and concepts with one another. Part of being a good listener is knowing when that person has made their main point. Where you (the listener) choose to go from there is up to you. I personally choose to wrap it up so we can continue a healthy social exchange. When met with redundancy, it begins to strain my attention and empathy in a short amount of time. I can remember when my dad and I weren’t getting along and his defense mechanism in a heated argument was (and probably still is) to make a point, make sure I understood, and repeat the same point using different language regardless if I understood where he was coming from. Something about older males and this empty space at the time a discussion should have ended doesn’t seems to bother them. To this day I have a short fuse for unnecessary repetition, and disconnect from that particular source sooner than later.

A trend I am seeing on the internets are a growing interest to share all the wrongs that are currently going on on this planet. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the way global issues should be resolved. I can’t shake the feeling  that we as a people have become overnight diplomats and activists to talk about some hot-button injustice that is honestly quite exhausting. Rather than hold my own opinion on how I think things should be, I would like to point out how silly nitpicking issues like these are in the grand scheme of things.

We live on a planet that is heavily populated by other human, animals, and other living things alike. When dealing with high volumes of species, there is going to be both good and bad things that happen in the world. People are going to die. People are going to bring new life into the world. This is the world we live in. With as many people that are living around the world, it takes little effort to submerge yourself in focusing on all the positive, or all the negative things we humans do. This can turn us either callus, or delusional. Neither of which is a healthy way to live your life. The solution? Try and maintain a balance between the two extremes.

To add to the topic of global issues (and the slacktivism that ensues) I cannot unsee the bandwagon we as a people seem to hop on when the media chooses to share a piece of tragic news with the world. I am not implying that we throw the field of journalism out as a whole and begin to live lives where we are only aware of our immediate surroundings. What I am getting at is I am not convinced that we are concerned about certain social issues as our social media accounts make it out to be. I know for a fact that I do not see myself helping out with the attacks that have been going on in Paris, Syria, or any other affected part of the world (and while I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, I have my doubts on those who choose to share their views on the matter.) The way my twenty-five year old brain works, thinks that while talking about all the wrong that is with the world may be an entertaining conversation piece for a short amount of time, it has a limit to the effect it can cause. As the redundancies intensify, we reach our limits in what conversations can do to help the situation. We all seem to reach a point of saturation in which we discuss a topic to such an extent that the inevitable question presents itself (what are “we,” “you,” or “i” going to do about it?) and is met with, in my experiences a majority response (-silence-)

Perhaps I am just jaded and need to be alone for a bit. Perhaps I have spent too much time alone and need to have a talk with someone who can sympathize with where I am coming from. I know I need to give my Facebook account a break because I am not liking what I see on my feed and will end up being more bothered the more and more I log on, expecting to see something other than “Look at this global issue we’re choosing to shed some light on right now” “You thought all was well with the world, wait until you see this” “Here’s something to get mad at the world about” and all the other side topics that come with this territory.

Welp, this is what happens when I begin to take some time off the bike and begin to reflect on the world and state of affairs, can’t wait to get back on the road again. Until next time….

-dfj