Monday, June 24, 2013


I like going fast.
I like going downhill.
I like going
but not too fast.

there's a big fat line between fast and too fast, and sometimes I misjudge just how fat that line is.  I'll be heading downhill feeling completely competent and safe and squarely on that fat line, and then all of the sudden I realize I'm no longer on the line but over its edge into the not-quite-safe place.
sometimes the result is a squeeze of the brakes and a resulting quiver or shudder:  not a fun feeling.
occasionally the result is a squash of the brakes and a squealing slide:  a scary experience.

the toltec are an ancient population who lived in mexico, a people full of wisdom and experience.  they passed down an oral history, which has been documented in bits and pieces by people over time, perhaps the most well-known being miguel ruiz with his book about the four agreements.  (these are powerful tools and guidelines I use--when I'm strong and thoughtful about it--in living my life:  be impeccable with your word, do not make assumptions, always do your best, and do not take anything personally.  awesome guides for a peaceful life.)
another toltec teaching, however, has to do with the angel of death.  please know that this is my interpretation of what I've heard, which may not tell quite the same story as an authentic toltec teacher might.  I look at it this way:  until we learn to release the fear of death, our lives will be constricted by it.    the angel of death, in their teachings, is always on your shoulder.  at any moment she can take away everything you've earned, learned, and been given throughout your life.  and until we accept her presence, we operate from a place of fear.  once we realize we have no control over her, we are released, and become free.
I also like to interpret the angel of death a little bit differently.  I see her, by reminding us to release fear, as an inspiration to introduce more challenges into our lives.  she tells us that fear of death is pointless and even harmful, but I think she also suggests to us that we live life most fully when we dare to be a little bit on the edge.
to speak our truths when we're not sure of the outcome, to risk reputation and security when we are following our dream, to dare to walk a different path than those walked by people around us, to go a little bit faster, downhill, than we necessarily feel comfortable with.
earlier this month I was traveling with a couple I barely knew, and I found myself making a statement that surprised--and pleased--me with its assertion of my truth:  I am finding myself so often outside my comfort zone, that it's becoming comfortable to be there.

woo hoo!  what if this were everyone's goal in life?
what a brave and exhilarated population we would be!

that angel of death helps remind me about the power of adrenaline.  adrenaline revives, it exhilarates, it motivates.  it challenges, it changes.  it refreshes and renews and reminds us that life is completely what we make of it.
you don't have to go downhill super fast--or even fast--if that doesn't work for you.
but I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone again and again, with a toe, with a foot, with your entire body.  check in with your angel.  be brave.  give her a chance to have a little fun with you.
be safe, but get out there and press your limits just a bit, now and again, and think of me . . . because I'll be doing the same.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

speaking of discipline

I have been slacking on my posting.

I began this blog almost five--gulp--years ago as a tool for practicing my writing skills.
over time I've posted 991 unique and varied blurbs and essays (and the occasional quote belonging to someone else), beginning daily and slowly working my way down to where I now sit, in the place of posting only on occasion.

though the world can easily live without my posts, it doesn't feel good to me.  get in or get out, don't stick a toe tentatively in the water:  be there, or don't.  half-hearted commitments feel . . . not great.
therefore, I made a new commitment with myself the other morning as I was riding up my canyon, thinking about all those things I might or might not want to write about.  I like to have plans, commitments, schedules:  these aids help me be impeccable with my word (thank you, miguel ruiz) and be in integrity.

personal responsibility is sorely lacking in our world, the key to successful community, and a tenet of my life philosophy.

all of this just to let you--and me--know that my new commitment is to post here weekly, each monday or tuesday, come what may.  oh, caveat:   I am allowed to post more frequently, if inspired.  grin.

they say when you set goals you should write them down and share them with others:  check mark.
see ya next week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

a narrow strip of weathered asphalt

once upon a time emigration canyon road was paved with smooth, shiny, black asphalt.  poured thick and hot, it was rolled into a flat and even surface and care, motorcycles, and bikes began rolling over it with speed and ease.  then the seasons changed; air and ground heating and cooling, snow falling and freezing, plows scraping, snow melting, sun beating.  one day the sun rose over a road cracked and worn, pitted and bumpy.
the powers that be gathered in a room in a building miles and miles away, scrutinizing numbers, plotting futures, and decided that the road would receive a new surface, but this time, one of something called chip seal.  chip seal, a lesser cousin of asphalt, is not smooth.  chip seal consists of an asphalt binder, applied to existing pavement, topped with a layer of aggregate chips, then rolled . . . with the goal of embedding all those little (and not-so-little) aggregate chips into the binder and creating something similar to smooth road surface.
chip seal is what a governmental agency does to roads when they decide they cannot afford asphalt.
I've bemoaned chip seal before; I will certainly do it again.  if anything on your bike isn't attached and screwed down tightly (like a front light), chip seal will let you know about it.  my hands sometimes go numb from all the vibrations.  chip seal is not my buddy.
this morning's story isn't completely about chip seal, but now that you know about b u m p y chip seal you might have greater understanding of the personal quirk I will now share.

emigration canyon road--as I stated above--was once entirely paved with asphalt.  when they decided to apply chip seal to the surface, they skipped a few sections.  the lowest mile or so is chip seal-free, and there are another few stretches without it.  in addition, the chip-seal applications, at times, don't quite make it all the way across the bike lane/shoulder out to the edge.
there's a particular spot about 2.5 miles up where a beautiful, newly poured asphalt pullout juts out to the right.  and then when that ends, a length of road exists where the chip seal is one to three feet shy of the road's edge.
I always swing out into the pullout apron because it is bump-free and lovely, and then I ride the old-asphalt narrows to avoid the chip seal.  it lasts 12 yards or so, but the first couple yards are extremely narrow, probably less than a foot wide.
during the winter when I ride the canyon this strip of old asphalt is covered with snow, affording me no opportunity to ride it.  but as spring commences, the snow pulls back and it is once again revealed.
finally, to the point!
in april, it's hard to ride this little strip.
by may, I'm getting a little better.
when june rolls around, I'm pretty confident of riding it easily, without bumping into the chip-seal edge that could grab my tire and, at a minimum, unsettle me, at the end of the spectrum, send my sprawling.
this morning I nailed the transition beautifully, no question, confident, smooth.

practice is a beautiful thing.  well, practice (committed, disciplined practice) is actually a lot of work.  but the result of practice is awesome.  it is confidence, certainty, improvement.  it is mastery.  and if you never truly practice something, you will never know the joy---yes, complete and utter joy---of doing something well.
whatever it might be.
for me, this morning, it was being balanced on a narrow width of asphalt:  talk about quirky.  but it's something I challenge myself with each time, just like my hands-free riding on beacon drive (with which I'm also growing more confident.)

never stop growing.  never stop learning.  never stop challenging yourself to be just a little bit better tomorrow than you were today.  because this is the secret to life.