Wednesday, October 17, 2018

This matters.

My friend Dan Ransom got to spend some time in the Arctic Refuge this past summer.

He made a video -- indeed a statement -- out of what he experienced up there.

Conservationists have won the fight to keep oil drilling out of the Arctic Refuge more than 50 times. But in conservation, you only get to lose once.

Many more details here.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A ride, recently: Wandering.

"Black Elk says it is in the dark world among the many changing shadows that men get lost.  Instead of insight, maybe all a man gets is strength to wander for a while.  Maybe the only gift is a chance to inquire, to know nothing for certain.  An inheritance of wonder and nothing more."


Friday, October 5, 2018

The vortex.

There's this place we like to go, usually on school nights.  Ostensibly we go to ride but realistically what we're doing there is recharging.  

It's not technically far from home but distant enough that we can't just up and go on a lark.  As such, any trip there feels special.

It isn't really accessible in spring due to melting snow, mud, slush, mess.  But we ride there with some regularity the rest of the year.

It isn't a stretch to say that I've ridden some variation on this route several hundred times.  It both is and isn't that good.

What draws us to it is some inexplicable combination of wild trail, lack of crowds, peaceful groves, and its short, finite nature.

On the surface it would seem that a trail so inextensive ridden hundreds of times would be a known quantity where every root, rock, and puddle would be catalogued and understood intimately.  

There are spots like that, for sure.  But surprisingly few.  

While riding it a few days ago I commented to Jeny that despite my OCD nature, I've somehow avoided memorizing every corner, hill, and spruce along the way, such that the trail still has surprises for me every time we ride it.

I don't think of Jeny as OCD but she has a knack for recognizing -- often subconsciously -- patterns and places that need to be pointed out to me.  Despite the fact that she's ridden this route maybe a third as many times as I she knows it much better.

I can't think of any other place where I've spent this much time immersed in and cognizant of what is special about it and yet I am still unable to tell you what's around the next corner.  Or the one after.

I lack any sort of understanding or explanation for how this could come to pass.  Something so without precedent just doesn't fit. 

And yet it makes me truly happy to know that even this far along in life there are still so many things to be learned.  That I can still surprise myself.

Soon I'll start being surprised to see my toothbrush, right where I left it...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On becoming inspired.

You never can tell from whence inspiration might arise.  It's often yet more difficult to figure out where previous inspiration has vanished to.  Sometimes it's just plain gone, no telling where.

Of late I simply haven't been inspired to ride much.  I've done it anyway, needing both the exercise and the mental clarity that comes from simultaneously incinerating endorphins while inhaling crisp air and moving gracefully through changing terrain.

I've done it because I needed to, but not really because of any burning desire.  Which is sorta weird.

It's sorta weird because for literal decades I didn't need a reason to swing a leg over a saddle and head out.  It was just what I did, day after day and mile after mile.  Asking me why I rode would net the same answer as asking why I breathed.  Or ate.  

Because I needed to.  Doesn't everyone?

That was then, and right now 'then' seems like a long time ago.

This past weekend Jeny and I somewhat unexpectedly found ourselves in the mountains, among old friends, getting amongst loam, duff, rock, and trees as the season approached it's zenith.

We didn't cover a ton of ground as that simply wasn't the point of the day.  The pace would best be described as 'inchworming': moving in what felt like very fast fits and starts and then taking long breaks to share stories, nab a micro nap, have a snack, or just be still in the cathedral-esque groves.  

It was while hiking up an unrideable pitch that it occurred how inspiring this group of people is to me.  I suppose if you're in the right frame of mind you can take inspiration from just about anything, but more often we (ahem, "I") find ourselves cruising along on autopilot and taking things for granted.

Perhaps in private moments the individuals in this group might also cop to taking things for granted, but even squinting real hard it's hard to see where, or when.  Or how.  They seem to be about as fired up about everything as any group I've ever spent time with.  Even if they wouldn't necessarily think of themselves as 'a group'.

I'd give a satchel of nickels to understand what gets them out of bed in the morning as fired up as they all always seem to be.  I used to have that fire -- for several decades on end -- but as this particular decade comes to a close it just isn't there.


Even if that overburdened satchel wasn't enough to persuade them to give up their secrets it wouldn't really matter: What motivates them is irrelevant: I need to figure out what motivates me.

One easy answer is that riding with this particular crew -- and especially as the mountains transition from green to brown to white -- certainly does.

But that's too easy.  I need to get more fundamental than that.  I need to realize that this thing -- that I have done obsessively for 44 of the 48 years I've been lucky enough to be above ground and breathing, this thing that has given me most of the most memorable moments in my life, that has taken me to most of my favorite places, desert and arctic, peak and valley, and brought me back home again -- is not a right, not a given, not to be taken for granted.

The simple act of experiencing the world from the saddle of a bike is, like the most important people in our lives, a privilege.  It could, can, and might be taken away at a moment's notice.  Happens to other people all the time.  Could happen to me tomorrow.  Maybe today.

Time for me to flip the conundrum on it's head and stop taking this thing for granted.  Time to get inspired again.

I know that my last several posts here have jumped the tracks and gone deep down the rabbit hole of reflection and perseveration.  Life has changed dramatically the past few years and the new pattern seems to be less certain in ways both big and small.  It's happening to you, too, even if you aren't paying attention.  In a nut, mere existence is feeling more finite and delicate than ever, and I've been thinking a lot about it.  Obviously.  Thanks for indulging me as I work through it.