Sunday, February 27, 2011

what is in us

straight paths are simply not in people.
~ivan doig, dancing at the rascal fair, p 218

last night I had dinner with some friends, one of whom said he believes people should reinvent themselves every ten years or so. try new paths, change activities, learn and do something differently. move, tackle a new job, add (hopefully productive) behaviors.

I think I'm covered for the next few decades.

ivan doig could have been looking at my life journey when he wrote those words, for I seem to be able to move any direction but straight. apparently, however, I'm not alone, though at times it feels that way. ivan made a broad statement, and I wonder just how much truth it holds.

if you were to chart your adult life, from say age 18 on, how resolute would be your march? did you move from A to B to C, just as we're told to, or did you sidestep and take in a bit of C-1 or even X before moving along to D?

I went snowshoeing this afternoon, making no first tracks, but instead following those of a skier who had been there before to cut tracks which were now and again bisected by those of a traveling moose. the smooth, narrow tracks moved along a trail which lay beneath a few feet of snow and they moved alongside a hidden creek, up ridges, around and down, occasionally laying out wide swoops, and eventually looping back upon themselves. I followed, noticing the often-direct path playing games with the layout of the land, at times moving unpredictably, at times behaving exactly as one would think it should.

the beginning and the end were givens.
but everything in between was negotiable, at times capricious, at times methodical and logical. whim and joy crept into the path of these tracks, delivering my route from complete safety and predictability.

my beginning, in fact the first segment of forty-eight years, is now a given.
my end is inevitable.
but from now 'til then I will walk (and ride) a path that is at times proven and well-thought-out, and at times completely fanciful or quirky. it will swoop, it will wind around and loop back upon itself. it will be narrow, it will be precarious, and it will be wide and safe and cushioned. it will be a rope bridge swinging over a gorge, a tightrope over quicksand, a suspension bridge built to handle a thousand cars per minute. it will be on snow, on grass, on sand, on asphalt.
it might turn left, it may turn right.
but it will eventually get me to the end.

straight paths aren't in us.
the best of us change and flow and become better than we once were.
every swoop takes us forward, especially those that are filled with joy and love, and a little faith.

Friday, February 25, 2011

tire tubes and bike grease

"do you change your own flat tires?"

my eyes stretch wide as I look at her in disbelief, "well, yes, I do." as opposed to letting my tire stay flat? yep. I change them.

"my husband always does mine, and I tell him he's infantalizing me, that I need to learn to do this."

"I'd like to be infantalized that way," I say with a half-grin.

I have been heard to say I want to marry a bike mechanic. now I haven't met one yet that I want to marry--or who wants to marry me--but I sure love having someone take care of those mechanical issues for me.

not that I need it. but I like it.

I can change tires, and I do change tires. I've even reached that way-cool point where I can put my rear wheel back on the bike after I've removed it to switch out a tube. yep, I've even figured out how to flip down the little rear derailleur do-hickey and get the chain back where it belongs. and the bike works after this complicated surgery, too.

this is a new skill: I couldn't do this for the life of me a year ago. but all the sudden a couple weeks ago I had to change my rear tire, and I did, and it all worked smoothly and beautifully. so yesterday when I had to change my rear tire again, I moved through the job with ease. I even found the hole in my tube, patched it, and successfully put things back together.

no infant here.

but that doesn't mean I don't want to be one sometimes.

as much pride as I take in the fact that I can care for my bike, there is just something magical about having it done for me. as independent and capable as I am, and as much as I like knowing how to and that I can do, there is still a part of me that absolutely loves to be taken care of. pampered. adored. put on a pedestal . . .

okay, that went too far.

I just like having my bike looked after. and I'd prefer not to have to scrub bike grease from my hands. I'd prefer not to have the frustration of being too weak to get tight new tires off rims. I'd prefer having someone else clean and scrub and care for all those little moving parts that could always use loving attention.

but who knows, if I had that, I might become like my friend who obviously has some desire to change her own tires.

because it often seems that--no matter how good we have it--we find a way to want what we don't have, don't we?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

marco and the grotto

long, long ago I wrote about the grotto. then I wrote about it again. and again.

I wrote about its majestic walls, I wrote about its weeping rock. I wrote about my love for city creek canyon and its unique personality. I wrote about the feeling at the top of this rich, loamy canyon filled with verdant shade and exuberant growth, a feeling of omnipresent peace.

what I haven't ever written about is marco.
the canyon that houses the grotto where the pavement finally ends is the canyon marco grew up playing in. close to home, full of wild things and running water and adventure: this was marco's stomping ground. as he grew, his interest in the canyon likely moved to its ability to provide dark, private places, and when he finally chose a bride and married, he married her at the top of this canyon, at weeping rock memorial grotto.
we friends and family sat on chairs squeezed onto a narrow ledge on the southeastern wall of rock, glorying and cheering as marco and susan exchanged their vows. we then celebrated in the pavilion, dancing until the light disappeared and the champagne no longer flowed.

marco was larger than life. he charmed, he flirted, he wore his heart on his sleeve. he hunted waterfowl, he cooked feasts with gusto, he loved wine. charisma dripped from his pores; he was a teddy bear you couldn't resist hugging. his deep brown eyes oozed concern, his steady gaze let you know he was focused on you and only you.
he helped me mourn two children.
he fathered three of his own.
his heart was anything but grinch-like: marco's heart was possibly two sizes too big.

marco is no longer with us; marco will always be with us.
for me, the grotto will always hold marco's presence. his wit, his magnetism, his purity. his largesse, his intensity, his belief in all things good. all of this will live in the lush growth around the creek, the moss and lichen that grow on the trees and rocks. it will live in the stalwart trees, the stone bridge, the loop of broken and beleaguered asphalt. it will live in the beauty of the grotto, it will live in the walls of rock that weep.
we can weep for our own loss, hugely, magnificently, but we are best served if we let the rock show us who marco is: someone grown huge with love, someone strong and resolute, someone who lived every moment he was alive, someone who now weeps for us in our pain.

you are loved, marco, and we who feel your love in return are among the most fortunate people on God's green earth. thank you, marco, for blessing so very many of us in this way. may we learn, someday, how best to honor you for that gift.

Monday, February 21, 2011

first tracks

the snow began saturday morning in the wee hours, high atop the hills. here in the city we received rain, droplets that built into rivulets that expanded to rivers, coursing down my street. when the temperature dropped saturday evening, the rain was suddenly snow, wet and thick and magical.

by sunday morning it was intent on covering every available surface, from tree limb to asphalt road to steeply pitched roof. the mountains were shrouded, the hillside barely visible, our world once again returned on february 20th to winter.

by early afternoon the plows scraped the roads and warm air ate away at the accumulated depth, and I loaded my snowshoes in the boot of my car and headed up the canyon.

every time I drive up emigration I am mesmerized by the differences I see when speeding past at forty mph versus riding up at twelve. speed adds an unanticipated perspective. I vigilantly watched the bike lane, expecting at any moment to come upon a diehard cyclist refusing to buckle under the snowload. what little bike lane there was remained empty, and I motored all the way to the reservoir without seeing cyclist or runner.

I parked my little car and set off up the road behind the locked gate, heading up toward big mountain. nordic skiers, snowmobiles, and other large-treaded vehicles had already stamped down a wide path, so I stayed off the edge as much as possible, delighting in clomping my way through the thick virgin snow.

for a while.

and then I would merge with the tracks for a while to give my legs a rest, and gradually move back to untouched snow because I couldn't resist the thrill. after a mile and a half I took off up the hillside on the original mormon trail, throwing one foot in front of the other, sinking at times almost to my knees. where did all this snow come from? well, obviously, up above. it was so deep, so thick, I watched little ice blue spaces form in the crevasses I created and I grinned with pure pleasure.

sweat poured, blue sky hung pure behind drifts of wispy white cloud, the sun peaked occasionally through. there was no one there. there was me.

my tracks climbed up the hillside and I followed, the canyon pulling me. I'd only ever ridden the road here, never having ventured onto the mountain bike trail I was following. the road was across the creek, far to my right, hidden by scrub oak and pencil thin aspen and as far from me as home. silence, everywhere, but for my beating heart and labored breath.

first tracks.

there is nothing like it, whether on a bike, on skiis, in running shoes, or on snowshoes. it enables a connection with the natural world like no other, one electrical and magical and deeply powerful. it is a gift, one to be unwrapped gently and with reverence, in silence, with gratitude that runs as deep as ground water.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


how many of us grow up to be who we thought we'd be?
I couldn't have dreamed up the current life I lead if I'd been given a year, candles and fluffy down pillows, a storyteller's gift and a crystal ball.

ride a bike for 50 to 200 miles, just for the fun of it?
take up running so that I had something to do when it was too wet/snowy to ride?
move nineteen times?
give birth to five children, and have two die?
be divorced?
wonder how I'll pay the next month's bills?
clean gutters??

a few things in my life were on my list, like getting married, writing, having my own business, being fulfilled socially, intellectually, emotionally.
but I'd say I've had to punt more than a few times, following blindly this spiralling, unpredictable journey I seem to be on.

the other day I posted and congratulated myself about finishing my book project. having forwarded it to the man for whom I'm writing and then receiving back his input, I have now moved into the work zone call revising. I've tweaked this word and that, added a name, changed a name, elaborated on a story. I've adjusted a time frame, altered a vignette, eliminated a gratuitous comment. a chapter is being modified, a scene needs to be fully rewritten. all in a day's work; all expected and part of the plan.

and this, too, in life. we tweak and adjust, modify, change and edit and alter. what feels right and true on tuesday may feel different to us on friday.
the challenge then, I suppose, is to retain integrity while flowing with what comes along and responding to what moves us.

I live in this precarious place called following my heart.
it comes with few guarantees, it comes with little security, and it often feels like I am walking a tightrope over a precipitous gorge. I make choices that others could question and fault, yet I have no choice but to be true to my deepest self. I walk barefoot as often as possible so that the soles of my feet can best grip that slender cable running beneath.
and I revise when needed.

yesterday I read part of what paulo coelho wrote in the tenth-anniversary introduction to his bestselling book, the alchemist. in it he described a bit of his despair over following his dimly lit but unavoidable path of trying to write and make a living at it. the alchemist has now sold over 100 million copies (I have helped inch that number up, as it's a book I tend to give away, necessitating my purchase of a new copy every year or so). but there were years of paulo's life when he questioned, doubted, and was filled with uncertainty over his path in life. he persevered, and the world has shown its appreciation for his tenacity, his commitment to the truth within himself.

we revise when necessary. new desires bubble up, we explore and fuel and fund their satisfaction. we stretch and grow and deepen. but we're at our best when the root, the core, remains firm and true. words change, thoughts flit and fly and disappear, our robes vary in design and color and weight. but deep within, the essence of who we are is best left to flower as it was intended.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

bright and shiny things

I went to my favorite store today, where I wandered for hours, lost in the delight of new smells, colors, shapes, textures: a bazaar for the senses and absolute heaven to me.
I touched rubber and plastic, wool and lycra, cotton and carbon and a handful of synthetics I'll never learn the names of.
swirling round me were titanium, aluminum, neoprene and fleece, silk and canvas and fiberglass and steel.
I was tempted by a dancing siren whose invisible presence guided me down one aisle then another, as I looked at puffy down and sleek microfiber and every gadget for every purpose under the sun.
I inhaled and sighed and could have stayed all day, lost in patterns and designs and ideas of where, and how, I could possibly put all of these things to use.

I'd gone there to exchange a present, one that was wonderful but was duplicated by something else hanging in my closet. a kid in a candy store, I was one with not only access but funds burning a hole in my proverbial pocket.
this, or that? something practical, something extravagant? a black thing--like usual--or something wildly pink or neon green? wool or cotton? one of these, or one of those?

I love rei.

after wandering and dreaming, scheming and contemplating, minutes having melted more quickly than chocolate in july, I peeled my fingers from the cartons and fibers and smooth, rounded top tubes, and turned my mind to the final decision making.
did I need a this or a that? would I allow myself one of these or those? could I better justify walking out with this sumptuous thing or that practical item?

sometime before the sun set for the day and the moon rose, I left with a bright and shiny new jacket, apple green and white, a zippered pocket on the back, just aching to be worn out in the not-yet-spring-like world surrounding us. it will cheer me, blend beautifully with ruby, and keep away the inevitable downhill rush of cold that I might just choose to experience on a 45 degree february day like tomorrow.

thanks jcb.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


if you know much about me, you know that at heart, I am a writer.
I need to write, it is as much a part of me as my eye color and the shape of my ears.

now I also know that everyone (and their dog) has a blog and is writing a book.
apparently, many of us have similar wishes, desires, and drives. I often feel like just one more person who thinks they have something to say.
but I cannot shirk this; it will not go away. so I keep practicing here (yep, you're my practice guinea pigs) and I keep on plodding along, eyes on that carrot out there that says yes, someday, a book, a payment, validation.
you know me and carrots.

so today I celebrate.
not only did I complete a 25 minute time trial this morning (that's 25 continuous minutes at VT, ventilatory threshold, zone 5, top number on our little workout cards, killer place to hang), but I also finished the book I've been working on.

these two things are related.

here's the story: this blog was born two and a half years ago as a way for me to practice--daily--my writing skills. I'd made a commitment to focus on what my heart told me I had to do, and decided a blog was the perfect way to support this commitment: it was earth friendly (I don't waste paper), it was a challenge (to create something worth reading every day), and it was public (I can't pretend I did it when I didn't).

so I rode my bike, and I wrote here. most every day I was riding and writing, as well as doing all the other things one must do in life (work, laundry, cleaning, cooking, parenting, you know).
and this went on for a good year or so, when I cut back to posting every other day to preserve my sanity. about the same time, though, I wrote a post about someone I'd seen while on a bike ride. september 26, 2009, I passed a man pulling a handcart down emigration canyon, and I wrote about it here: faith greater than pain.
and a friend of this man's read my post.
and told the handcart-pulling man.
who later hired me to write his story.
which is now finished. today. this morning.

so today I celebrate, I celebrate the tao of cycling, the way of cycling, which has brought untold joys into my life, countless friends into my life, amazing strength and tenacity and focus into my life. and a book into my life.

I'm still on the path to fulfilling my life purpose. but I've just passed another milestone, and it feels great. it's taken me a lot longer to write this book than it did to complete my time trial this morning, but they have similar aspects:

  • you have to do the prep work, the ground work beforehand: you can't just walk in and do it
  • it isn't easy to hang in there when it gets difficult
  • it seems to take longer than it should, and watching the clock doesn't help in the least
  • sometimes it hurts, sometimes you want to bail
  • it can drain you, exhaust you
  • you feel like the king of the mountain when it's done
  • and . . . there's always another one in your future

which is good, because laurels are pretty prickly things to rest on.

and like a time trial, the completion of the book is just one more step in the lengthy process of getting it to a bookshelf. we have a long way to go; I can just hope that the groundwork I've laid, the tenacity I've developed, and the endurance I've grown and nurtured will pay off not only for my riding, but also for my writing.

may your life also be filled with carrots, laurels, payoffs . . . and of course, more carrots.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

57 and sunny

so where do you think you could find me?
yep, up my favorite little canyon, along with a few dozen other cycling enthusiasts who weren't afraid of a little downhill chill and rooster tails from the melting snow wetting the roads.

the sky is nothing but blue, snow still covers most of the hillsides and lies thick in shaded, south-side bike lanes, and it is a gloriously perfect day for cycling.

which makes more than a few of us choose between have-to's and wanna's.
yesterday's weather was almost as nice, and instead of riding outside I chose to focus on some of my have-to's. I dusted and vacuumed, mopped floors and did laundry. I worked on paperwork (can we talk about having a child applying to colleges, and the resulting mountain of paperwork that descends on his parent who applies for financial aid?), and was partially present for a teenage daughter who---with eight friends---was primping and prepping for a high school dance.

today, I was focused on fitting in my wanna.

this time of year, if you really love to ride your bike, you have to be prepared at any time to leap on it when the sky clears and the sun pours down.
I'll do laundry later.
I know I can get that application completed by the end of the day.
there's enough food in the fridge, I can put off going to the store until tomorrow.
I'll get the sheets changed/ironing done/work handled/gas in the car after I get back.
because this kind of perfect riding weather is only here for a short while, and then we'll be back to snow and rain and cold.

do I feel guilty sometimes?
but I also know that I'm a better, healthier, happier person when I get to do what I love.
not always, not all the time, not at the expense of crucial, important, immovable things.
but when we learn to fuel ourselves with what fills our hearts with joy and our minds with bliss, we are then better able to pass that along to those around us, those we care for, those we work and interact with.

today was a day to soak in joy and bliss. and the forecast for the week gives me a few more warm (though windy) days before . . . yep . . . the snow returns. so, perhaps I'll take what I can get, and postpone the postponable until thursday.
sounds good to me.

Friday, February 11, 2011


a milestone!

and a rather cool one at that, one that five months ago I never thought would ever, ever happen.
to many of you this could fall under the heading No Big Deal, or I Hit That So Long Ago I Can't Even Remember, but for me, this is cool:
I have now run over 100 miles.

woo hoo!

I'm not counting any running in grade school, high school or college, or even my pitiful attempts a couple years ago. this is just in my new life phase as One Who Runs.

again, I'm happy to celebrate a little milestone because if I don't do it, no one else will, and an Occasion will slip past unacknowledged, a sad and lamentable thing. life is busy, life is often over-stuffed with activities, due dates, and paperwork. perhaps its because of this that recognizing small moments, little achievements, silly anniversaries and events is such a gift and treat.
you already know I love to give myself awards and rewards, and the huge magnet board in my hallway is plastered with bib numbers, stickers, medals, ribbons, and pictures of all of us in our sporting activities: reminders of our capabilities fuel future activities.
next time I moan about my poor, tired quads not being up for running, I can remind myself that I have a hundred miles on my shoes already, that there's simply not an acceptable excuse.

now all of that being said, I have to admit that I'm sitting here this morning trying to decide whether or not I'm going to go run today. I ran two days ago, and power camp's intervals have been a bit tougher than usual this week. this morning's class was a spin-out, however, and I don't have class again until tomorrow afternoon . . .
I could rest up.
or I could whittle away at the next 100.

yes, no, this, that . . . I suppose I'd better go look at the magnet board.
if you all were to place bets on what I'll do, I wonder what the odds would be . . .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


at thirty-three years old I went back to school.
I had changed directions in life and decided to earn a master's degree in social work, building upon my undergrad in business. yep, perfect combination.

I entered the program with the goal of learning to do individual and family therapy, and thought I'd end up with an LCSW, working in a cozy little office, helping people deal with challenges in their lives in a healthy way.

what I found instead is that I had a great and huge compassion for everyone, whatever their walk and status in life. I learned more than I wanted to know about marginalized populations, and learned that the only way to help people change and grow is to meet them where they are, then (hopefully) move from there. I learned about empowerment, I learned to view equality in a
different way.

one thing stressed to us all---regardless of our intended career---was that we had a social responsibility to get involved, to help effect needed change. we were taught that it wasn't okay to sit on the sidelines and keep our mouths shut. we were expected to be voices for those who cannot speak.

this was not my favorite part of school, for this is an uncomfortable place for me, a squirmy place. politics make my head spin, because it seems that those who work their way up into positions of political power are not those who see the world through eyes like mine. partisanship, the good 'ole boys club, and keeping big businesses happy are all things that make my skin crawl. I believe we all think we're rational human beings behaving in the best way we can, but I don't know how many of our politicians can even live on the same street with themselves.

my friend holly is my idol, for she dares to fight for what she believes in, and she finds a way to avoid being sucked down into the muck that lines the political arena. (see control-shift-backspace) I don't want to get anywhere near the place.

but ugliness arises in places outside of capitol hill, as well, and some grabbed onto my life last month and spun it around a time or two. two people I don't even know thrust themselves into my life, slandering me to a third and innocent party, committing a felony against me, spreading lies and distortions that were vicious and ugly.

this hurt, it was completely inappropriate and despicable, and it really ticked me off.
I could ignore it, or I could go hide under a rock. I could walk around filled with paranoia, shame, or suspicion, or I could just pretend that it's all okay and nothing bad really happened.

but instead, I keep hearing a gentle voice inside quote to me words uttered by edmund burke over two centuries ago:

all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I qualify as a good person, and what these two people did qualifies as evil. recalling my school days, then, causes me to lean away from ignoring their actions and move instead toward some form of recourse. they need to recognize and acknowledge the evilness of their behavior. they need to be confronted and made aware of the harm they caused.

they need to apologize, and they also need to learn that their apology will never right the wrong they did. I can (and will) forgive, but I also hope that this repercussion sits inside them forever as a kind of thorn, and hopefully, a lesson learned.

now I can't know that this will happen. but if I don't make the attempt, then I am letting evil triumph, which is the last thing in the world that our world needs.

Monday, February 7, 2011

the joy of randomness

back to the ipod.
and me.
and how the two of us, together, create a blissful state of being.

I am a structured person, more or less. I commit to things, I follow through, I am constant and dependable. (usually.) I know where things are, I'm prompt, I rarely run out of things. I am organized, I write things in pen on my calendar and very, very rarely change plans.

however, there is this little subject of knowing what I want, setting goals, making plans: I'm not always so good at this. because, because, there are times when it's not possible to know what I want until I get it.
and this is where the ipod, set on shuffle, comes in.
there are hundreds and hundreds of songs on my ipod, and when it is set on shuffle, I have no idea what will begin playing in my ears next. it may be a song I just heard the day before, it could be a song I haven't heard in months. it could be an overplayed favorite, it might be a song that has grown in meaning since the last time I heard it. I can't know until I hear it, and I am wonderfully, joyfully, gloriously not in charge of what will next be given to me.

the universe can operate in the same way.

I could sit here and map out the next twelve months of my life: what I want, my goals, what I will do each week, where I will be going, what I plan to create, what my kids will be doing, what places I will visit, events I will ride in, classes I will take, projects I will undertake . . . or I could place my life on shuffle and just see what happens.
now, given my tendency to be organized, committed, efficient (more or less), one would think that I'd be all over the former method.
but in reality, I tend to live a bit by the shuffle method.
this is why: there are a million experiences I've never had, never felt, never touched, never sat with . . . how can I know what I want if I've never known it?

just as one would be restricted if they went through life knowing their favorite book was one they read at age fifteen, one who wishes to grow and evolve must always be open to the unknown, for we never know when we will be touched by that which we haven't yet encountered.

yesterday a song shuffled its way into my ears, and it was the perfect song for my mood, calling all angels, written and sung by jane siberry. I couldn't tell you the last time I heard this song, and it was exactly what I needed, yet I couldn't have figured that out by myself.
the universe needed to point it out to me.

it's not always easy to trust the universe, to trust that what I need will end up in front of me, either offered as a selection or flat out plunked down, unavoidable, something I am bound to trip over. and of course there are times when I have to go search out something I need, crave, desire. sometimes I even plan, set goals, and make choices ahead of time.
but I never forget that joy is found in randomness, that I am not the only wise one in my life, and that I can't always know what's the perfect, glorious, absolutely fabulous right thing for me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

and we are winners, all

I spent good chunks of yesterday and today inside a gigantic, reverberating and echoing, cinder block sided warehouse jammed with hundreds of teen aged girls in spanks, their coaches, and their families.
now that I've spent a couple hours here at home, in dead silence, I am beginning to reclaim my sanity and my ears are no longer ringing. (knock on wood. come in!)*

my daughter's team had a tough tournament. they played twelve games, and won a third of them. today's score was 0-6. ow. most games were won by only two or three points, and a great deal of talent existed on both sides of the net. but in the end, only one team can win.

mistakes were made, calls were at times weak/late/questionable, and the referees were imperfect. but in none of the eight games my daughter's team lost were they unfairly defeated. they just plain old lost. they were outplayed. they were not the winners.

now here's the great thing about me: I'm used to not winning. it's okay. especially in the athletic world, I don't expect to win, or to even come close. I am one who wears her "participant" button with grace and good humor. I accept that I'm a decently strong cyclist, but there are so very many (even in my own age/sex group) who are better that I don't even consider playing the racing game.

that's not true.
I have considered it.
and I have tossed it out the window, because I don't need proof that I am not the winner.

my daughter has the drive, the desire to be on a winning team. and my guess is, she's going to get there. she's not one to settle for less than what she's capable of, and she will keep pushing until she reaches her goal. not for her are the platitudes, the "everybody wins" sandbox play. she is driven by something within that knows where she's headed, what fuels her, and what brings her satisfaction.
she wants to be the best.
she wants to win.
she will not settle for a "participant" medal.

maybe that's because she's fourteen and not forty-eight, maybe it's because she is different from me. regardless, I'll place a bet that in her next volleyball tournament, after my ears stop ringing and my head stops pounding and I'm able to do math again, I will find that her team has won more than they've lost, that the win/loss percentage has at least flipped.
she'll take them there, because she just won't settle for less.
she, this girl, wants to be a winner.
which she will be.

*for cb

Thursday, February 3, 2011

the zone

I often wonder if I'm the only one walking around thinking to herself, am I normal?
do the rest of you out there live confidently, purposefully, accepting that how you are is how everyone else is, some sort of normal?
or are some--or all--of you like me, wondering just how off center we really are?

today, this has to do with the zone.
you know, that place people go when they're in a groove, physically exerting themselves, pushing hard and putting their mind somewhere that doesn't recognize the pain, the shortness of breath, the stress, the Idonwannabehere of it all.
I've heard about this place.
I'd really like to check it out, learn how to get there, stay for a while.
but the address is still eluding me.

this morning in power camp we did 8 intervals of 4 minutes zone 5 (the highest zone) followed by 4 minutes recovery in zone 3 (a low work zone). zone 5 is never much fun to get to, and going up and down a bunch of times is one of the toughest things we do. (for me, that is: who knows what all the other normal people think.)
our instructor mentioned getting in the zone, and hanging out there while we were up in zone 5.
so I tried to get there.
but what keeps happening to me is that my mind begs for distraction, and starts counting something. next thing I know I'm doing math, calculating just how many more whatevers will add up to one minute, or ninety seconds, or however much longer I think I have before I can take the tension off and breathe again. or I'll do some other kind of math, adding the minutes I've already been in zone 5, or adding the minutes remaining, thinking about the difference between what I have to do and what the "sport" or "elite" athletes have to do (which would be 3 minutes, and 5 minutes, respectively, in that zone 5 place) . . . in other words, I fixate on numbers. counting up, counting down, getting stuck on this math thing in an effort to take my mind away from the fact that my legs ache and I can't breathe very well, and that sweat's pouring down my forehead and back and I just really don't want to be working as hard as I am.

I can't seem to get to that zone.

I can't do it running, either. I'm always thinking about how far I've come, how far I still have to run, how many blocks are ahead of me, how many more songs will play before my miles are in, if the pain in my side is ever going to ease, if my knees really hurt or I'm just imagining it, if my shoes are getting dirty, if that car will see me and move out of the bike lane in time to avoid hitting me. I don't get to the zone.

but I've heard it's out there. I've heard it exists.
and I'll be darned if I give up my efforts to find it.
because I have this belief that someday I'll uncover the address, and I'll zip right there, turning my head for nary a distraction. I'll hang out in the zone, I won't be tempted to count a single thing, and time will just fly right past me.
someday, I will learn exactly how to get to the zone.

and perhaps it's there that I'll bump into all of the normal people, the ones who have known how to get there all along.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

dead reckoning

quickly, what does that title make you think of?
for me, it's pirates and ocean going vessels.
for some it's animal or air navigation.
for you, I certainly don't know, but it's likely that it has a connection to an earlier time, a simpler life.

for thoreau, in Walden he suggests
"In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds."

a simple definition of dead reckoning is this, to know where you are only by knowing where you came from.
a more complex definition is this from wikipedia: to estimate one's current position based on a previously determined position, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time, and course.
then comes the warning: a disadvantage of dead reckoning is that since new positions are calculated solely from previous positions, the errors of the process are cumulative, so the error in the position fix grows with time.

can you guess where I'm going with this?

I'm not heading down a bike path, not today. today I'm heading to a more internal destination, that of one's own sense of self.
dead reckoning clicks with me.
you can't really chart your path until you know where you are. once you understand where you are, your chances of reaching your next destination are much greater. and if you're off, to begin with, in your understanding of where you presently are, you are less likely to actually attain the ports you seek.

back to biking, take power camp as an example. before class ever begins, we each suffer through an assessment, checking our performance at that given moment. this tells our instructor, and us, exactly where we were when we began. based on the results, we are guided through the program and asked to perform certain tasks.
without this initial assessment, we would be floundering, not truly knowing our strengths, opportunities, or possibilities.
when we're able to fix our position at the beginning, we are able to chart our progress forward and adjust as needed.

returning to walden pond, I am captured by the visual thoreau paints. life is full of choppy waters and storms, and a thousand and one items, quicksand and all that we must contend with. a steady keel is paramount, but so is a grounded assessment of where you presently are. and, ideally, some sort of map that contains those potential destinations that make your heart soar.