Painfully Aware

What an exciting time to be alive

A mantra I would have never guessed would have played in a substantial role in my life, now more than ever. It is a safe bet to say that if you were to go back on my life in three month increments, there is a good chance you would come across a different person you see today. Like an emerging artist who is attempting to hone their craft, there are common themes, but the other 80% of what is going on socially, emotionally, physically, psychologically is attempting to be reconstructed (much like the World Fair at the turn of the nineteenth century in Chicago.) Things I thought would stand the test of time and hold up through out my life have left me disappointingly mistaken and shaped as a result. Alas, this new three month period (May to July 2016) have undergone a series of ideas that have stuck around longer than most. A combination of more informed decisions along with a painful awareness of my surroundings have left me feeling more and more comfortable in my skin (I feel happy more now than ever and it’s freaking me out!)

More informed decisions

Being in constant thought has lead me to the world of skepticism and the logic and evidence-based choices that have provided a foundation for existence in all fields. Balancing out the neurosis and anxiety quite nicely. If I am able to conceptualize a step by step process as to why something is the way it is, there is a good chance I will agree and adopt that aspect into my life in some way, shape or form. At the same time, I have to keep from being consumed in this way of though because like most social constructs, they are emotionally and physically exhausting.

All this is to say that I am finding things I like (mostly things I do not) and holding them to this same skeptic standard which has resulted in a prolonged part of my life and isn’t some strange, short-lived fad I end up being embarrassed I thought this was something I identified with (insert bad bands, hairstyle, fashion sense, and long term goals.) Discovering more and more things I identify with under this lens has become beneficial in many ways. I am able to make up my mind as to why I agree or disagree with whatever the subject, and develop my own personal, philosophical narrative.

Painfully aware

This one has been more of a roller coaster ride than the above mentioned realization. I catch myself going on and on explaining my thought process to others and while there is a lot to learn (both from whomever wants to listen and to myself personally) I cannot remember a time when I have done this in a previous part of my life. When did I talk so damn much? Why am I talking so damn much? What is the meaning behind all of this? Still haven’t figured out an answer for any of these questions. But if you’re lucky and I’m feeling particularly chatty (usually after a few drinks) you might be able to see this inner monologue in real time and not just in concentrated written thought. One question I have probably expanded on the most is the last one of the three. Trying to figure out the bigger, existential meaning to justify my actions. Here’s where things can get dark.

So I’ve got the informed decisions going for me. That’s all fine and well. This has manifested itself into this happy-go-lucky, yet nihilistic approach to life. Despite my best efforts, I continue to identify with the darker, neurotic, melancholic parts of my life. This still make sense to me and it ties perfectly with this increased mindfulness (watching me bring this all together.) What happens time and time again is I catch myself making an observation of some type, things might take a darker note, but as soon as the topic is brought up much like the air that enters your lungs, my obsessive clinging to reservations is harder and harder to do. Perhaps this is where the apathetic nihilism comes in to play.

I am getting the hang of things I like (bikes, coffee, blah blah blah) I still want to explore a space in which most people immediately want to register as good or bad, but choose not to participate in the final step. This is how I communicate. I might speak as though I have some opinion on a topic (and I might) but 90% of the time I value the conversation higher than the judgement at the end. Let me observe and philosophize about all the topics under the sun. I might not be that emotionally invested in it personally (sorry Pokemon Go fans. This takes a step too far back into a point of my life I do not want to relive and want to keep at bay when it was still pleasant.) but still want to discuss how important it is to the other person. This brings me to a new level of understanding that I want to continue to do and stay away from nostalgia as much as possible.

In summary, I’m realizing my interests change and while it’s terrifying and confusing, I will continue to push this mental boulder up a hill to explore that space and gain some insight.

until next time….

Pleasant Surprise

Bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes.

Love em, hate em, race em, collect em, or build em (hopefully there is some element of riding involved.) Bikes are the gateway drug to a lifestyle of discovery, curiousity, as well as physical and mental well being. From the early years of childhood to life as an adult, bikes open up new opportunities to all of us in our lives. 

I can remember getting my first bike as a kid and being overwhelmed with options as where to go. This means I can ride around my block. I can do bigger loops and cover more ground (too bad I have no sense of direction as a kid in his single-digits. Looks like I’ll keep things in my neighborhood.) 

I also have fond memories of long trips I’ve made crossing the city as a kid (whether my folks were aware I was up to this task is another story) both on foot and on bikes. From the 8-10 mile hike home from school, to bike rides to the beach on cruisers, alternative, non-vehicular modes of transport have a special place in my upbringing. 

Fast forward to six years ago when skinny tire track bikes were introduced to me. This was my first experience in riding at competitive speeds with peers. While there are obvious challenges that come with riding the track bike on the open road, bikes had expanded my horizons and explored the possibilities of travel and self discovery. Add a road bike with tears and brakes and a whole new catalyst had taken over. 

Wanting to find the hills that once held me back previously, had a new challenge with proper shifting and braking. Things got a little easier for the time being but as challenges went away, new ones arose. I got talked into racing bikes competitively on a sanctioned level since I had shown that riding at competitive speeds was something that interested me. That in it of itself has had its ups and downs (which I will skip for the sake of time and subject consistency) but has in its own way shown other avenues I never had thought possible. 

Human beings are resilient creatures. Something about bikes brings that resiliency to the public eye and holds its own deep appreciation for almost all fellow humans whether they care to admit it or not. Most of us have had an experience with a bike whether during childhood or just recently. I have an uncle that has rediscovered bikes as an adult and has personally reminded me how rad people on bikes can be. What may come across as completely illogical and ridiculous behavior is completely justified in the riders own head. I was pleasantly reminded of actions that can take place with something as simple as free will (and of course, a bike.) 

Bottom line, bikes allow people to do rad things. I’ve had my handful of rad things done both on and off the bike. While we may come to this conclusion sooner than others, that’s not to say that we have become callus and receive news of novice riders pedaling in triple digit temperatures while having only ridden for two weeks as not surprising. Reality checks like this keep us from categorizing other people’s potential and keep our minds open to other, less cocentional opportunities. So when I find myself behaving as a worrying parent would their child, I can’t help but be reminded of how some friends and family must have felt when I was getting rad in my own way. Mindful insight will never get old to me. 

Until next time….

Commuter Coffin

Its amazing how we fall in and out of interests through out our lives. Remember the time when you wanted to be older so you could enjoy the privileges that at the time felt as though they would never get old? Hell yeah I’m going to buy and drink beer all the time (which I admitting do from time to time.) As soon as I get my license to drive I’m racking up the miles and giving everyone rides. Grooming that involves razors and shaping facial hair any way I want? Count me in! (I have no context for this whatsoever. This could be an entirely made-up fluke and is a total shot in the dark.) Eventually, things grow tiresome and there comes a time to reevaluate our interests to see if they stand the test of time.

I can remember a point when I thought I would be watching certain movies or listening to certain artists for the rest of my life. To this day, I still am surprisingly mistaken when I conclude that the Tyler Durden character in, “Fight Club” could have easily been played by a black male and been just as gritty, attractive, and clever. There is an ebb and flow that comes with general interests. Some last longer than others, and some are a flash in the pan. One of the more recent dilemmas involving interests has to be operating a motor vehicle. There was a time (generally between 18 to 22) when driving was seen as a more desirable thing to do than anything else I was doing at the time (going to the beach, playing guitar, trying to find myself.) And to this day I go back and forth between polar ends of whether to continue to drive. Recently I’ve shy’d towards the task, and at this current point in life that feeling is increasing day by day.

My work commute has been quadrupled since last week and the thing I am obsessing about is how I can avoid driving my car to work (or as little as possible in general.) However given that I needed to test out this new work setting to see if they have all the commuter amenities I need, or if I am going to have to rough it and bird bath in the sink while I keep sweaty clothes hanging somewhere only to stew in my own juices after the night shift was said and done. After having experienced rush hour traffic in a car, I will happily choose the later of the two. My work commute consisted of a mix of laughter at how ridiculous such a task was, and anger at the people who have accepted sitting in a giant metal box in the heat as a ‘normal’ part of life. All it took was one trip to and from new work to make me want to keep my car in the garage for as long as possible.

Call me crazy but I would much rather be transported somewhere by someone else if I am unable to pedal there myself. My headspace and happiness has become a priority in my life and I am willing to not only stand my ground, but also go out of my way to ensure it’s longevity. Los Angeles was not built for mass forms of transportation (buses, subways, trains) or alternate forms of commuting (cycling, walking, etc….) but is making a transition from the vehicular haven that has been popularized by American film. I now have (and have chosen) the option to take a few railways to get to my new job location. Sure there may be some compromises that need to be made like an extended duration of commuting time, or the convenience of leaving whenever you want, but the ends justify the means.

I am glad I own a car. I acknowledge that I am privileged enough to live in a world where this mode of transportation is an option if I want it to be. With that being said, I begin to feel an almost immediate discomfort when I leave the garage. It has nothing to do with personal safety or the type of car I drive and the condition it’s in. It more has to do with what the task of driving is, and it’s effect on the human body. To be sitting down for an extended amount of time and dealing with people who do not possess critical thinking skills in a more direct way that other interactions can be painful, stressful, and depressing.

Much like the rat-race of life, I wish to opt out of this social norm and continue down the path that brings the most joy (makes decision making a whole lot easier this way.)

That is my cliche rant on cars, as said by a skinny tire bike jock.

-until next time….

Madness

Madness: A state of severe mental illness

:Extremely foolish behavior

: The quality or state of being mad: as

  • Rage
  • Insanity
  • Extreme Folly
  • Ecstasy, Enthusiasm

(Thank god those last two were on the list.)

Learning to accept and welcome madness into your life seems backwards on what we are taught as a society. There is a large stigma when words like madness or ‘crazy’ get thrown around. I understand the appeal of the path of least resistance. We as a species want to categorize and forget. File this away as “crazy” and be done. Something is either good or bad, and we rarely take the extra step to dig a little deeper in hopes of growing.

I say, let’s let a little madness into our lives. So often are we conditioned to choose the traditional routine when all of the rewards have been received a long time ago. Is someone still considered mad if they are aware of their foolish behavior, and continue to perform those actions? (Probably so. It’s a lot easier that way.) If that is the case we should recognize our privilege at this insightful realization.

Many cycling analogies can be made to bring this point home.

{

insert clicheAnalogy = (“why ride a bike to the point where you want to black out and vomit at the same time?” “Because it is fun and I enjoy this.”)

}

The topic of mental illness doesn’t put things into the proper context so for the sake of discussion, let’s consider we do not have any severe, diagnosed mental illnesses that take aware our mindful abilities. For the most part, what separates an acceptable foolish behavior (drug use, obesity, religious faith) from things like madness is popularity.

The reason I bring this up is because I found myself at this same crossroad. There is an increased level of risk and would be considered foolish by most. Foolish behavior and I see little to no slowing of progression. I’d like to think I have a good idea of what I am getting myself into, and I continue to go down that path. (not quite folly, but a lot of ecstasy and enthusiasm.)

I see myself continuing to let this type of madness into my life until, well, I can’t say I’ll know when. Guess that’s the beauty of it right? This feels like a healthy step following the paranoia and disbelief when reaching that childlike state of happiness through new life events. Now that the initial jitters have come and gone, this new, slower, less intense form of nerves seems to have taken over.

I would be lying if I said nothing good ever came out of doing something you initially do not want to do. I can remember a more creative phase in my life when I was trying to write music on a more frequent basis. There were many challenges both physical and mental. The mental aspect of trying to create and grow with a sense of urgency eventually got the best of me and I decided to move on to new things (such as cycling.) Now it appears that the all too familiar feeling is coming back. I’m a little older now and believe that I have a better grasp on my mental well being to go through those motions once again.

Until next time….

 

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….