Friday, August 31

On Being an Inspiration

Let me preface this post by saying I'm not an arrogant jerk, and in no way do I mean for this to sound condescending. I'm no superman on the bike. I don't have any special cycling talents. And I'm not a professional writer. I fully understand these things. My writing is not an attempt to brag to the world of my mediocrity, but to reveal that even us Average Joes and Janes can be home bike mechanics, can commute by bike every day, and that we can do incredible things (like take up commuting, or ride a century, or do the Leadville 100) when we put our minds to it.

Bikes are amazing tools for utility, recreation and sport. By recognizing that fact and exploiting it to the nth degree we can maximize our human potential.

This ongoing cycling experiment that I chronicle for you, Dear Readers, is my attempt to showcase the economic, health and spiritual benefits of the bike. I'm not seeking my own fame and glory...well, actually I am, but only because I wish to succeed in my personal writing here on the alley wall of the Internet I'm not seeking my own fame and glory, but simply to exhibit that there are greater possibilities out there than what we're typically handed in our swag bag of life.

There are people who are much more effective at doing this than I am, however, that doesn't diminish my compulsion to be counted among them.

But deep down I do everything I do to inspire myself to greater things. Isn't that what we all do? When we step slightly outside our comfort zone we're daring ourselves to greatness. Being the cautious man that I am, I do that in increments. I rarely make huge strides beyond my comfort area all at once. Occasionally it happens, but more often I keep on my steady baby steps pace. That pace has served me well through the years, even though I wanted to be stampeding toward greatness.

I hope that by throwing myself under the bus of experience I CAN inspire you to your own feats of greatness. I have no doubt you can easily exceed my own.

Whilst wallowing in our collective self pity, my wife and I came up with a strange new scheme. What follows is a text message exchange between us:

Me (in conclusion to my typical morning grumbles): I wish I were with you somewhere else.

Mandy: Agreed. Let's sell the house and set off on a trip and never come back

Me: Yay! I thought you'd never come over to the dark side!

Mandy: You think I am joking? Seriously, let's sell the houses, I'll homeschool as we travel. I'll check on passports.

Me: We'd need purpose and parameters (where, how long, how, etc, etc). Don't tempt me Frodo, because I'm escapist enough to jump on this and sink my teeth in. And my jaw locks like a pitbull's.

Mandy: I wouldn't tempt. I'd need a definite plan, answers to big questions, etc. I'd do it.

I hesitate to share this. My reluctance is because this is an idea only just conceived, hardly strong enough to stand on its own, much less to fly.

And if I cast it out there and then we never follow through...

I'm not saying we're going on a Family On Bikes style adventure next summer. What I am saying is that we're unsatisfied with the status quo. I, particularly, am fed up with the status quo.

I'm fed up with being stuck in a job I hate with no prospects on the horizon. I'm not one to sit back, to quote yet another movie, "as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life."

I don't want or need much from life. I have faith in an existence beyond this world anyway. But what I do want from life is just a little human respect. And I can't get that in my occupation now. I'm done with playing games and doing the dance. I want a life that is real.

I want to do work that I care about, not that I fundamentally disagree with. My position basically exists to maintain the property values of the wealthy. There is no nobility or satisfaction to be had in that.

My view of property rights is pretty radical. You see, I believe in the inherent value of the Commons, not in some contrived system that benefits those with money at the expense of those with less.

I thought by getting into planning that I could exact some real change in the world. But like I said, the bulk of planning involves preserving the property rights and values of the rich with no concern for the trials of the poor.

I didn't know that during my undergraduate sentence. No one truly explained what "planning" meant. As is typical in higher education, it was left up to us, the students, to figure it out for ourselves.

So for five years and more I've been fighting a headwind of my own making. I went from being a free spirit that knew the path he wanted to travel, if not the exact destination, to someone who let the fear of appearing to be unsuccessful to the world rule his decisions. So I stepped off my chosen path, the path of my dreams, the path that would have smoothed out as I matured and gained experience, and I stepped into the path that I believed everyone else wanted me to be walking, nay, driving. That path led straight into this cubicle hell I find myself in day after day. And I have only myself to blame.

This morning I was blessed with another of those moments that come only from being a dedicated cyclist. I watched a massive orange moon set behind the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. As the orb disappeared behind those mountains I desperately wanted to follow it into the west, or turn and race it back to the eastern horizon.

I pedaled on into a headwind east of Golden instead. And as I fought that headwind I realized my heart and soul has been fighting a headwind for so long now. I really want to turn out of it and just throttle up, catch a good tailwind back to the dawn.

Everything in our lives seems to be pointing back toward the path I was on before I met Mandy. No, not to be some climbing bum extraordinaire, but a path of simplicity, of an uncomplicated, self-reliant, resilient life.

Fear has kept me from bushwhacking over to that path. And yes, my lovely dear, it would be a bushwhack to get where we want to be in life. You always hate those impromptu Bataan Death Marches. Well, just giving you fair warning, the going could be thick, but I think we can pick up the trail about where we'd be now anyway if I'd just stayed true to what I knew.

It's like your mom said, we do have an amazing life, but it's not about where we are or what we're doing. It's who we are. And we take that with us everywhere.

Sorry, other Dear Readers, took a little tangent there.

The past is behind me--us--and I'm always adamant that the path where I stand today is the right one to this point because I am who I am based on my experiences along that path. But tomorrow...tomorrow can be a new path and still be mine.

I needed these last few years to learn, to build confidence, strength, and maturity. I wouldn't trade them for anything. But I'm not sure where the path goes from here. I've not burned my bridges at work, but I've made it clear I'm done being a doormat and done sitting quietly by.

The tone of this post might seem a bit disjointed. For that I apologize. It's evolved over a week. It started almost as a fluff piece, filler, a week ago, and now it's just another part of my ongoing personal drama.

It's too easy to settle into a routine and forget how amazing our lives can be. It's easy to say our dreams are too hard to attain and just keep dreaming without acting. It's easy to avoid the steep hills on life's roads by taking the long easy way around. But by choosing to do things that are hard we become something stronger than we could be otherwise. By enduring the things we hate we learn to endure anything, everything.

Light explodes on the horizon.

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