Saturday, October 29, 2011

hold on loosely

I have an ipod nano that my family gave me for Christmas years ago. I'm not too much of a geek, nor do I have too much music, so it suits me just fine. but it has this issue, which it seems to have always had: it doesn't always respond when I hold the "turn off" button. I usually have to try more than once, and I press and press, and often become frustrated by the difficulty of the process. geez, I just want to turn the darn thing off! I've considered just getting a new one, thinking there's just some little flaw with that button that's not even a button, just a spot on the little white wheel.
it's old, I've told myself, so I shouldn't expect it to work perfectly.

well, that's how it's been, up until about two weeks ago.
at that magical time, I discovered that when I just lightly tapped the "turn off" button-that's-not-a-button, it turned right off.
and every time since, I've turned it off easily by just tapping that little button.

the roads I ride aren't always coated with smooth asphalt.
often it's chip seal, or worn chip seal (which is better than new), or some patched mess of various kinds of road surfacing. occasionally I cross cattle guards or railroad tracks. and there are always cracks, potholes, uneven surfaces, and what some call "road furniture," debris that could knock you over if it got you before you saw it.

I've learned, over time, that there's a point of perfect tension in my handlebar grip, a place where I'm holding on well enough, yet allowing space and opportunity for my bike to show me where it wants to go. too tight, and I throttle its efforts to move smoothly over bumps and holes, and too loose, I risk letting it get sucked into gouges and ridges and toss me over the handlebars.
a natural tendency---as I demonstrated with my ipod---is to try too hard, to press to firmly, to hold on with a near death grip.
my car is a wiggly little thing, and I've learned this with when moving over the metal bridge expansion grooves on a curve: when I grip the steering wheel too tightly, my car is thrown a bit with each one. when I find that perfect balance of tension, the car moves through them more smoothly. I give it a little space to do its job, while still performing my own.

38 special is one of those american rock bands that had a handful of hits back in the '80s, and is still plugging along. their "hold on loosely" was a number one hit back in 1981 (!) and I think of that title frequently as I navigate through life, bike rides, car rides, ipod use.
as I began to write this today I pulled up the complete lyrics to the song, and was amazed by how well these words convey the truth of all sorts of relationships. and although the rhyme itself leaves something to be desired, this couplet sums it up beautifully:

your baby needs someone to believe in
and a whole lot of space to breathe in

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