Saturday, April 27, 2013

I own the world

today's thought, as I crested the back side of big mountain and the panorama spread before me was filled with snow-tipped mountain peaks, greening valleys, trees galore and an endless blue sky, began with my thinking "I own the world."
this sounds selfish and egotistical, doesn't it?  a little greedy.
I don't mean it that way, that's just the first way it comes to mind.  when I revise it in an attempt to gain greater accuracy, it changes to "I'm on top of the world."
which, if you take literally, isn't accurate at all.
so I keep trying to make my meaning more clear:  "I am so amazingly happy to be where I am right now, having accomplished what I just did, and I just feel in complete harmony with this glorious world."
too verbose.
"I love this world."
"I am one with everything in the universe."
"I just climbed both sides of this big stinking hill and I'm thrilled to be done and see the view from up here."

this is what was moving through my mind as I began the downhill coast, and I never did come up with the perfect statement.   because it's all those things:  the sense of accomplishment, the relief that the hardest work is over, the incredible view, my effort that earned that view, the fact that I'm out in this stunningly beautiful world and breathing pine-scented air, the deeply spiritual connection I have with being in the natural world.

it's why I ride, it's what keeps me getting on my bike again and again, it's why I work hard when I ride:
because I love that feeling that causes that phrase to bubble up in my mind, I own the world.  
it's possible, I guess, in my own little unselfish way, I do.

Monday, April 15, 2013

a better version of bad

I've been meaning to address this for over a month---in fact, ever since greg commented that I should be riding my bike, not riding in my car to an indoor spin-bike workout---and am finally getting to it.  tardily.  but some things are difficult to think through and incorporate (take into the body), and this is one of them.

recently I read a book title cradle to cradle, by a chemist-and-architect writing duo.  the proposals laid forth in this book regard re-envisioning the way we do . . . well . . . just about everything.  how we design machines and consumer goods and packaging, how we live, how we travel, how we design our lives.  the book challenges the way we think about what we do, and it significantly challenges the status quo.
the authors suggest that we stop going along with "the way things have always been done," and re-think things from the ground up.  from the cradle . . . creating items---homes---businesses---methods---that are well-designed enough that when we're 'done' with them they can be reformed into something else . . . returning to the cradle again.
this means instead of just designing a plastic bottle that can be recycled into something less, we design a plastic bottle that will decompose back into the soil, releasing seeds that will grow into a plant.  or that we design manufacturing processes that instead of creating byproducts that are biohazards, create byproducts that benefit the environment.
it takes a wide open mind, it takes removal of all the walls and boxes within which we often think and live.
the authors suggest it's possible.
and by tackling these projects, ideas, goods, methods, systems, we can create a place where what we do/eat/recycle/throw away/make is actually good and of benefit to the environment, instead of what we now have, which is a place where we who try to be good are really only being less bad.

it's not a good feeling to know that you are being only a better version of bad.
we are incredibly wasteful as a society, and I try to be an efficient, thoughtful consumer:  I arrange errands in groups so to minimize my driving, I recycle as many things as our city offers bins for, I am constantly turning unneeded lights off in my home, I try to water my lawn as little as necessary and consider water needs when choosing new plants, I always take reusable bags to the grocery store.  I sometimes ride my bike for errands where I don't have to carry much.  I collect fruit and vegetable peelings for compost.  I don't like purchasing goods which are over-packaged, but I find it hard to completely avoid. and I am making such a teeny tiny dent in our consumption-based society that it probably doesn't even matter.
I am less bad than I could be.

as a society I'd like us to be less wasteful and more appreciative of what we have.  I'd like to use less gas and create less pollution.  I'd like a smaller carbon footprint. and I am by no means alone.

for those of us who feel caught in this giant system and unable to do much about it, we might just have to suffer through those feelings for a while longer, until more powerful people are willing to get on board and make a few changes.  until then, I suppose I'll keep doing my little things while continuing to consider better ways to operate.
and I'll try to feel better about simply being a better version of bad.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

not a single cyclist

highway 89 can take you from montpelier, idaho, to jackson hole, wyoming (and thousands of other places as well), and last friday I let it.
I've ridden that stretch on my bicycle 6 times now, and I was excited to drive it in april to relive those early-september experiences.  yes, montpelier to jackson is a long segment of the annual Lotoja race held each september.
last friday it was cloudy, rainy, cold, sunless: weather I've never experienced riding my bike there.  the weather was foreign, but the road was as familiar as a long-lost friend, almost every curve and bend and change of grade something I knew and remembered.
it's a long drive that calls to mind just what a challenge it is to travel this road by bicycle.  I spent most of my drive in a mind drift, thinking of my cycling experiences, absorbing the quickly-changing scenery, and noting just how different things look from behind the windshield and in the plush leather(ette) seat of a car.

star valley surprised me the most:  it's much wider and much more beautiful than I've ever noticed, especially at its southern end.  that may be partially due to the snow dusting the tops of the western foothills, adding definition and relief to what may sometimes in the dusty brown of fall fade into itself.  I may, this time, have also had more time to notice what was to my left and right and above me, as I trust the steady steering of my car more than that of my body upon my bike.  it was beautiful, and next time I ride through the valley I will see and experience it differently.

snake river canyon--the most-used canyon in the jackson hole area--glistened with fresh rain and low-hanging clouds, the river its usual glassy green, thick with bubbles and white froth at the visible rapids. the road through the canyon flows up and down, its lanes--both car and bicycle--wide and even and smooth.  in the car, as on my bike, I felt peace and joy to simply be there in this magical spot on earth.  with the approach of hoback junction I know I'm close to the end, and this brings exhilaration tinged with a bit of sadness for the loss of all the beauty left behind . . . and then comes a view of the tetons, though friday they were ringed in clouds and visible only in my mind.
my soul and mind slow down in jackson hole.  I love this place.  I drove moose-wilson road, remembering the times I'd pedaled my way to the finish line.  I lowered the window and breathed in cold, clean air, and shivered to be among the stately lodgepole pines.

and not a single cyclist did I see.  so different than my usual transit to jackson hole, when I am surrounded by cyclists and cars, smiles and cheers and grimaces and sweat.
I breathed deeply, filled with appreciation for the changing seasons, for the fact that there is a time to dance, and a time to rest, time to sow, and time to lay fallow.