Once more Around the Sun

*Bing* This is your captain speaking. We are approaching our circumnaavigation of the sun. Estimated time will be Sunday afternoon. All systems seem to be going according to plan. Should be a smooth ride. Thank you for your patients, have a good flight. *bing*

Based on last nights overnighter under the stars, most of my annual rituals are early in celebrating. Now comes time for the reflecting phase. There has been much growth that has happened since last year. Every day I continue to be more comfortable in my own skin, on a physical, social, and mental level. 

I know what it takes to hit that right balance between weight and self esteem. As sadistic as my tendencies may come off, I know where to draw the line in regard to being thin and nourished. This is nothing all that new. I can remember approaching weight loss in a more aggressive way. That had its place, back when I had a different mindset on what I wanted to do with my life. Without sounding like complete masturbation, I am satisfied with my appearance and now find pleasure in taking a little time out of my day to look at myself. If only to see how I have aged and how my biological age related to my physical appearance.

This year specifically I have seen many changes in my views on the world, the people around me, and the language I use to communicate with others. Recent reads have taught me that while it is perfectly normal to have a basic understanding of where you stand on particular topics, the balance between that and a humble versatility keeps us evolving as individuals. I have had to really check myself and ask just why I feel the way I do. Recently things have been centered around why things provoke such a heightened response in social settings. Whether it was a lack of basic grammar, a lack of thought in why others feel the way they do about certain current events, or the overuse of the word, “like.” Not to say that those feelings have been eliminated altogether, moreso the reaction is less heightened and continues to remain on a steadier level than previously. Fewer spikes, smoother rides.

On a similar note, listening to what others are trying to communicate has been pushed towards the front of my radar and it continues to be a learning experience day by day. A big thing I have begun to notice is that people will open up to you in a more organic way if you give them enough space to do so. I personally have my friends and the person whom I am with to thank for that. I think I can speak for most of them in that one quality they share is allowing for their peers to simply be themselves with little to no ridicule when certain behaviors would be bombarded with question asking and explanation request, alienating and harassing the person when all they wanted to do was share something about their lives. I have to pick and choose whom I share certain things with as to not tire myself out from overexlaining something we clearly are receiving something on different wavelengths.  No longer feel obligated to explain in detail why I chose to paint my toenails, enjoyed, the new Womder Woman movie, or my faith (or lack thereof) to others. Even if asked, everyone is on a case by case basis to the type of response they will get. And the best part is, I feel little to no guilt for doing so.

People are people, and wish to be treated as so. Sounds like broad strokes, but when approached initially in this broad type of way, can unlock a lot about all parties. Let people be themselves and you will be rewarded in some way, shape, or form. 

All that being said, looking ahead, I feel as though I have a better and clearer understanding of how I will approach the years to come. I have never had more than a two year goal and don’t think I ever will. Mid-term goals are about as far in advance as I go, and even then, things get about just as broad as let people be people. The best part is a no longer feel the existential, nihilistic guilt that comes with the human condition. That’s not entirely true. The guilt is still there, its just been re shaped and reduced by a significant amount. In letting go of a lot of things that used to concern me, I am not as stressed or fatigued as I used to be.

One final though(s) that has occurred is the future of annual traditions. I used to hold my birthday near and dear to my heart. Recently that has been lessened and has be questioning whether I want to make a celebration out of it. I’m not suggesting that I will now be ageless (too hippi-dippi for even me.) Wonder if I am going to end up on such a neutral level, I have a difficult time deciding what is with my time and effort. As of now, many things have gotten the volume turned down. I am taking all of this in stride and hope to follow the trend to see where it leads. Still I wonder if I will be able to rattle off a list of things I care about. 

After about ten seconds of thought I can say with confidence that I already have a handful of things I feel still are worthy of my attention and effort. I might not be able to verbalize them on command, but if you happen to be one of those people, or are adjacent to one of Those things, it will be unquestionably obvious and will (in my head) not require formal recognition. And it damn sure won’t require any explaination, unless the mood calls for explaining. Those are my thoughts. Going to continue to ride this camping train while slowly completing my runaway kit so I can appropriate transient culture for my own selfish gain. Bikes are still cool and I look forward to flying my own unattached flag in the fall months when the time comes to hit the dirt once again.

Until next time….

Choices and Rewards

Ladies and gentlemen. I would like to reserve this time to ask that you give yourselves a celebratory commendation in your own unique way. Why is that? Well thank you for asking. The reason being is that you are more aware of your actions than you may or may not be aware. I am a firm believer that mindfulness is paramount when it comes to progressive living. The more aware we are of any type of a situation, the better off we are as a society, a species, and as an acquaintance to one another. Some people may be wondering what is he getting at, and the time has come to share to what all these hints are leading towards.

Let’s devote two minutes to summarizing our current lifestyle in which we live. There are many spectrums that many people fall under. Whether we have chosen a more formal route to our existance, or an alternative path has shown to be in our favor, or is something we want to pursuit, regardless of logistics our foreseeable outcomes. To begin to dial things back, there has to have been some type of personal experience that has led us to lead the lives we live in our current day and age. The point I would like to stress is that there is some level of credence that is involved societally with why we have made the life choices we have made leading up to this point. 

For example, I know I should be looking for a better paying job with more to offer for the amount of time and effort and flexibility I put into what pays the bills at this time. I should consider managing my finances in such a way that I begin to put funds away for a “rainy day” and begin the practice of saving for a foreseeable time when I am physically no longer able to work. I should consider the health of my organs and how much stress I am putting on them given the current descisions I am making. All of these thoughts are perpetually in the back of my head. And whether I choose to give into these thoughts and behaviors, I am mindful enough to be able to choose to be or not to be, while understanding what my options are. 

I can remember a time when I would casually overhear my dad use the phrase, ” I know I should _____, but I’m choosing to _____.” This has never really begun to sink in until about a year from now. This choice subconsciencely proves that we are aware of our surroundings enough to recognize that we are making a goood or a bad decision. 

And that, is worthy of praise. What you choose to do with this information is entirely up to you ( and is subject to judgement from third parties) and at the very least is an empowering perspective on our surroundings. I cannot help but feel that this will come off as, ‘no big deal’ for some people, and can be a plausible perspective; however my point still remains. Whether you choose to live your life in a self-destructive way is your own choice as a human being. Your awareness of the actions your choose to make are what give everything spice to the experience. 

With all that being said, lets take some time to (if anything) acknowledge how in control we are of our own fate. Regardless of which path we choose to take, our perspective on our existence is worthy of admiration. And I believe we are all deserving of said admiration. Until next time….

Relationship Goals

First thoughts may include a hetero couple wearing matching outfits, laughing at a salad, out on the beach together, or some group activity in which they are smiling and appear to be happy. All fine and well examples. Instead of the Instagram worthy photos that we are striving for, I’d like to consider an alternative thought experiment when it comes to relationship goals. I personally feel that often times we don’t reflect on what it is we hope to gain from this choice. Might sound a bit selfish, but I think we can all agree one of the reasons we want to be with another person in an intimate way is because we want to feel a certain way that we are not able to do on our own. With that being said, lets expand on that and think about what behaviors we show when that special person comes into our lives.

I understand that this may be new for people and some might not know where to start. We might not see our intimate relationships as being as goal oriented as other avenues of life, (bikes, work, personal health) but it can clear up some confusion for why we behave in such a unique way.

If I personally had to boil down what some of my relationship goals were, it would look something like,

  • To better understand and to be understood
  • Continue to practice compromise without regressing into a previous state of being
  • Improve esteem

A little broad and bland, but serve as a foundation for how I act when I am with someone.

To keep the open-ended theme going, lets ask ourselves, those whom have the privilege to be in an intimate relationship, what has the other person done that has made you better than you were before you were together? How have they impacted your life? Do you have any reservations? Is this person improving your life, or are you taking steps backwards? I believe that a deeper understanding of these topics will improve, or at least get you headed in the right direction to those beautiful Instagrams we all love to hate. Might even convince you that your in a toxic environment and a change of scenery might be the better option. That’s all for now. Until next time….

Currently Seeking

Many, many thoughts come to mind when finding the right words to describe a hardened soul. Whether through loss, opportunity, privilege, hard work, or happenstance, the cream has, and will continue to rise to the top.

Going back and forth between the metaphorical pendulum of how serious someone takes the realm of cycling, I am at a place where there was a sect of cycling I to this day still identify strongly with.

Having first entered cycling by ways of the “far left” party ride scene then shifting towards the more conservative, competitive route, I can say that I am able to, and still hold many of the views of bike shop culture with that of my own. Being noticed by a bike shop is equivalent to the local skate shop looking at your demo tape and offering you a sponsorship (and all of the pipe dreams that come with it.) There are perks both physical and ideological one can gain as a result. Unfortunately, things seem to be taking a turn in a different direction. 

At the current age of brand ambassador based marketing and retail turning towards the digital age, I cannot help but pay close attention to how I am being marketed based on my close relationship with bikes. In that same respect I’m trying to figure out what was one of my first experiences with this type of culture. Then through my own type of reflection I was reminded of that all too familiar branch of cycling that (to me) was the perfect balance of strength, talent, and humility. 

They may give off a bad, pretentious vibe to some circles, but there was a point when the people who BA’d for Rapha made it very clear that their special group of mostly British based cyclist rode long and hard, while downplaying the seriousness of their craft. Covering large distances, sometimes spanning over several days, all for the sake of the love of the lifestyle. I know when I’m being marketed to, and this type of riding spoke to me. 

While currently swinging away from the formal competitive route, I find that I am coming back into contact with this familiar interest in hardened cycling with little to no aspirations of the pipe dream that is competitive racing. Reserving the space to go beyond what you may be capable of in a less conventional setting is something I can definitely get on board with. If there was a brand out there that catered to this fringe audience, let them know I’m interested. 

One of the reasons I feel the big R get a bad rep is like most brands that become successful, growth is often inevitable. More demand means that new goals must be met, and new audiences must be accessed. This (in the eyes of a SoCal based rider) has manifested itself by speaking to the 30+ weekend warrior crowd, and those who want to race competitively in a more formal setting. This combination of crowds can be seen as good overall. However the consumers are quite different in many respects. I can’t for example imagine seeing these different branches who all stand behind the same type of cloth getting together at the same social gathering. Yes I know they all ride bikes, but the distinction between how these different groups of people get their kicks from pedalling pedals begins to lead the sects astray. 

I’m here to say I miss the glory days of hardened souls who knew they had the ability to go above and beyond, but showed it in a different way that doesnt involve podiums. However you’ve come to be the hardened soul you are now is your own unique experience and should be embraced, celebrated, and enriched with like minded people. Maybe there are groups like what I am describing and are just not on my radar. Maybe they exist, but are separated by their locations, or a simple lack of communication between those with like minded interested. I want those people to know I am on the search for you. If I have touched on something above that speaks to you in a special way, please let me know. People with similar interests who come together can create a positive and enlightening experience for all whom they surround themselves. 

The tentative goal is centered around talented riders with equal parts humility, that don’t necessarily need to prove their worth by taking part in every local race under the sun. Humility cannot be emphasised enough. Recognise that you are not as entitled to anything more than your own abilities. With that being said, if you want to participate in any type of formal racing, that is your choice and will not be looked down upon. I would love to seek a group of people who enjoy lengthy rides on the road or the dirt, who aren’t afraid to push themselves and keep a balanced perspective on the world of bikes while still being able to prove through your own talents that you’ve got chops. Know anybody that might be interested? Asking for a friend. 

Until next time….

Not a Praying Man

The setting is on the saddle. Road, dirt, the context is irrelevant. You have been trying to keep from riding the brakes through a technical descent but cannot seem to let it go. Arms are beginning to fatigue. Fear is reaching the point of saturation. To keep the wheels from squeaking and causing long-term damage, you decide that enough is enough. Letting go of the worry-grip you take a deep breath and begin to observe the immediate changes in scenery. As scary as things may seem, the reprieve from letting go helps keep the mood calm(er) and focused. You have successfully accepted your fate and am living in the moment.

I’m not a praying man. The concept of faith, much like nostalgia, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Both lead to toxic behavior and I am unable to commit to blind leaps of assumption. However, the above mentioned scenario is the closest and current thing to faith I experience on a frequent basis. In some strange way, this checks out in my head. All of these comparisons to end with one more. This one ends on a positive note.

I imagine similar feelings might arise when it comes to courtship between to people. While in the middle of my “get your life together” year, I am now getting to the point where the worry grips have to come to a halt. The moment of clarity once you realize all is well and the initial fear was good in it’s initial phase, but it has expired and needs to be disposed. It may have taken some hurt feelings to get to this point, but hey, gotta take the good with the bad right? I think I’m getting the hang of this whole rolling with the punches stuff.

Anyway, all that to say I have a little more clarity (and an analogy to refer to when the going gets tough) and after twenty-six years of reflection, I am finally beginning to feel comfortable with this concept of….. educated foresight. Until next time.

Still loses like a jock

All this self-reflection is cool and all. I remember being told that one must take the good with the bad. That phrase is much easier said than done. The hard part is the application of behavior after said reflection has happened. 

As long as I can remember, I have had (and continue to have) sore loser tendencies. Not the most attractive quality in any way, shape, or form. The monster still remains. One silver lining is I now am able to keep my mouth shut and remove myself from a situation when things get too hot for me to handle. This has taken many years to do and is not easy to this day. I’m at this point where I make an effort to catch the jock settings before I am exposed to it in hopes to be aware enough that when the hypercritical, egotistical side comes, I can check myself¬†(inside and out) and do something about it. Right now all I can do is remove myself from the environment. No sense in finding another punching bag who has no idea what they’re in for.

Playing the vain-blame-game is an all time low move, no matter the circumstance. Stewing in this can lead to a lull in progress. I have stewed for years at a time, trust me, this sucks and there is no way to put a positive spin on the matter. Self improvement is not gradual steps in the right direction. It is a jagged path that may have a few quick steps forward, but can be just as easily be met with a step or two in the opposite direction. It is finding some type of comfort when dealing with this, despite the planning that was involved, the data that was recorded, the emotional investments made, that what separate the childish jocks from the more normal human beings with more control over their emotions. Some can flesh out the cause and effect in a polite and effective way. Others have to find a quiet space to be alone with their thoughts and vent in whichever way they feel is necessary (can you guess who has to do the latter of the two?)

But hey, gotta take the bad with the good right? Me “taking” the bad manifests itself through isolation. That seems to work for me so I’m going to stick with that right now. I am completely comfortable with not saying anything when I do not have nice things to say. From there, things will build up depending on the situation, but usually pass with time. A conflict lies when your analytical train of thought is running on all cylinders to prevent this moment of embarrassment from happening again, while your physical and more emotional sides are moving at a glacial pace to reset for the next encounter. Cue anxiety, cue impatience, cue anger, then tie it all together at the end with self loathing. This has been my life for as long as I can remember and remains to be that way.

The good news is self-awareness is how I am able to begin to keep things in check. A balance of all these emotions is paramount when the going gets tough. I sincerely admire how women are able to be cheerleaders for one another and keep the environment (in this case, we are discussing competitive cycling) from reaching that toxic but fragile state. I am taking a lot of mental notes now that there has been an increase of female presence at bike races. I am cheering for you cheering on your peers and fellow cyclists. With that being said, fragile masculinity is a tricky thing to navigate. Here’s me continuing to take these small steps forward despite going through the same pitfalls I always seem to find myself (while keeping the trite, inspirational speech to a minimum.)

until next time….

Cyclisociopath

Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but gets the point across. I digress, it is confession time:

Having One’s upbringing stem from the roots of jock culture, an individual can choose to go one of two ways. They can remain willfully ignorant to the toxicity they have contributed and will continue to do so, or reality can eventually set in and the person must then deal with the effects of their actions in their own way. Part of my upbringing was spent amongst the culture of the jocks. Not right away, but when it did, I went for it. 

This isn’t a typical jock story, more fitting for an athletic outcast such as a cyclist. This first manifested itself through high school wrestling. A sport which will always hold a deep place in my identity. Most jocks are born into this type of culture, similar to those who are born into wealth or some social privileges other may not. When someone starts out on top, one of their key roles is to keep things that way. For the rest of us who rely on opportunities that come and go with life, we have to try harder to make a name for ourselves in order to achieve this status. Riding bikes started off easy enough in the beginning. I got to a certain level of fitness and ability, then became esteemed in a way that would end up doing more harm than good. 

The hypercritical, detail oriented, exaggerated standards of masculinity are harmful to all parties not involved in this acidic environment (we’re talking pretty low on the pH scale) which count for a majority. Often times it is not until irreversible damage has been done that the initiator realizes the harm they have done. I am of course speaking of personal experience that I am not all too proud of. 

Holding someone else to an inflated standard (big point: that does not wish to be held to said standard) ruins relationships, intimate or not. Those occasional, What you should do’s, are a vain approach to bettering someone’s experience. Consider consent. Pay attention and really ask yourself does this person want to hear what I have to say. Not saying this will be easy by any stretch. 

I’ve been bullied, and bullied back. It is never a long term rewarding feeling. I am now a more quiet person because of it. I know people who have a lasting impression of my character because of previous behaviors. I have to exclude myself from conversations 

  1. I cannot accept a sincere compliment, making it challaenging for me to  reciprocate. 
  2. I have jaded views that are not supportive of the world / lifestyle I choose to be a part of.

I prefer to keep an arms length in these types of social settings nowadays. Seems safer for both parties and help the coping process. There are steps being taken to accept and move on from these behaviors. I will admit that once a certain level of fatigue hits, the all too familiar feeling presents itself. This moody type of person we all can be shows true character. The point of this is to admit that I have begun to see within myself and my own character, and I do not like what is on the other end. 

For now I will continue to keep my views to myself unless asked about them, and work through whatever it is I need to work through. Maybe one day we (myself included) can become better cheerleaders for one another instead of needed to keep others at a similar level of progress and ability as that of ourselves. It may have taken a few years, but letting this go for a male amongst male peers is unnecessarily difficult. No, I’m not all that interested in racing bikes right now. No, I don’t know if and when I’ll race again. No, I don’t know what I’m doing with / or want to do with my life. Pushing these types of questions and concerns is synonymous to someone sharing a plan, only to have someone else dictate how that person will follow through with said plan without their sincere consent. 

All this to say that I come from a jock culture. I’m not too proud of that part of my past. I hope this behavior can eventually be ruled out of existence, but hey, one day at a time. Jock culture is sociopathic and while there is comfort in that ability to disconnect, it does not end well. Here’s to finding new social ground in the world of two wheels. 

Until next time….