Thursday, January 23, 2020

Pocket Change



Pocket Change. Life is like a coin. It has two sides. The first is the business side. It encompasses all actions required for our survival. Some of these activities, like the beating of our heart, digestion, and the repair of bodily tissue are taken care of automatically by our amazing bodies. Other business activities, like how to earn money, home economics, and the rules of society need to be learned. Our parents start teaching us these concepts as infants, and school takes the lead as we get older. This side lives in our minds. The flip side of our life coin is the feelings side. All of our emotions naturally live here. We don’t have to do anything special to create them. They’re simply part of our existence, part of what it means to be alive. All we need to do is learn how to understand them, be with them, and every now and again, deal with them as they arise. The feelings side of our life coin is where we find love, compassion and intuition. This side lives in our hearts. Both sides are necessary, but very often not evenly polished. Life partner relationships built on the business side make excellent providers but passionless love stories. If your main purpose in life is to be happy, you will never find it on the business side. True happiness can only be found on the feelings side. Which side of your life coin are you holding face-up? Which side of your life coin have you been spending most of your time shining? True happiness may simply be a coin flip away… Pocket Change.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Forgiveness



Forgiveness. When I was a kid, forgiveness was as simple as saying or hearing the word “sorry”. Like magic, sorry fixed everything. Sorry made people get along and sorry made relationships run smoothly. As I got older, forgiveness became much more complicated. I’m not sure if the reason was because the actions and things that needed to be forgiven were becoming more significant and consequential? Or if it was just my growing ego that was getting in the way? “How dare they !” was most often what came up instead of a certain understanding and compassion towards the other. As forgiveness became harder and harder, the level of resentment that I carried steadily grew inside of me. The grudges that I held were not punishing those that had wronged me. They were a form of self-poisoning, a cancer that slowly gnawed at me from the inside out. The whole point of forgiveness is not to deny wrongfulness. The whole point of forgiveness is to no longer let the other continuously re-traumatize us over and over again. We need to let it go for us, not for them. But one must also never forget that the person who needs forgiveness the most is our self. Forgiving our self for our mistakes and regrets. Forgiving our self for being human. Being our very best self requires being able to look at our reflection in the mirror, or in the window of a busted door like in the second photo, and feel more self-love than self-hate. Stop victimizing your own self. Go ahead. Let it go. Freedom lives on the other side. Forgiveness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sustainable


Sustainable. When I started mountain bike racing in the early 90s, I would always start races sprinting off the line. My background was in BMX where races lasted less than 1 minute and the start was very important. But cross-country mountain bike races were much longer, close to 2 hours. In my mind, I knew that I should be pacing myself, that races were never won in the first few minutes, but I still bolted off at an anaerobic pace that I could only maintain for a few minutes at most. This usually brought me into the first single track section with the lead riders, but not for long. Once the fatigue set in, I was left struggling to finish, making the final hour so very painful and slow as I crawled to the line. Every single race, I unconsciously used the same approach, even if I knew by experience how it was going to unfold in the end. For some reason, I had this secret hope that I would have this amazing day where the energy wouldn’t fade and that I would be able to keep the faster pace for the entire distance. Thinking about this today, it sounds stupid and so simple to fix. Why did I get carried away over and over again? Why didn’t I learn to pace myself? Even now that I don’t race anymore, I often catch myself living life exactly the same way. I get caught up living so damn fast, sprinting between tasks, pushing harder and harder in an attempt to get ahead. Unconsciously I know better, but I keep telling myself that it’s only for a short while, that I’ll rest after the next milestone, then after the next one. I lose myself in the whirlwind of doing, chasing an eternally moving external target. We call it making headway, getting stuff done, taking care of business. But it isn’t normal even if it’s prevalent. It’s madness. It’s making us sick. This rat race is bullshit. It simply isn’t… Sustainable.



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Thursday, January 9, 2020

School






School. I have come to understand that all of our actions either come from fear or from love. Fear hardens. Love softens. Fear closes. Love opens. Like darkness, which is the absence of light, fear is simply the absence of love. Fear isn’t something that needs to be conquered or fixed. The antidote to fear is simply love. Fear exists as a means to protect us. But we are not meant to live there. We are meant to live in love. My solo Sunday rides are like attending my own private school, where I am both the student and the teacher. The lessons coming to me as I settle into my spin. Alone, in the woods, away from the many distractions, the voice inside my head starts to make so much more sense. I’m not exactly sure how, but riding makes me smarter. Riding also make me a better person, happier and calmer. It makes more of my actions come from a place of love rather than fear. I’ve been experiencing a lull in my riding lately. My body is asking me back off, but my mind really still wants to go. It just loves and misses going to school.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Wild horses


Wild horses. I purposely haven’t made any resolutions or set any ride goals for 2020. Humans are the only animals that set objectives and spend time comparing themselves against measurable benchmarks. All other animals just go about living, simply being, without comparison. Society conditions us at a very young age that we are not enough. And we spend our lives trying to measure up and prove our worth. Other animals know that they are fine just the way that they are. Too often, goals usually just end up making me feel bad about myself instead of making me accountable to follow through. My motivation to ride my bike is intrinsic. It’s not about chasing results anymore. It isn’t even about chasing physical fitness. That’s simply a secondary benefit of riding. It’s about the heightened awareness that it gives me. The grounded feeling. The clarity. The open space. The peaceful silence. The aliveness. The high-vibrational state. The healing. The connection to nature at that perfect speed. Fast enough to enable me to take in more than I do when walking. Slow enough that my surroundings aren’t lost in a speedy blur. Don’t make your rides a punishment driven by fear of inadequacy. Make your rides an act of self-love. Like wild horses, we’re not meant to be tamed and controlled by fear. Like wild horses, all that we really want is to run free. Wild horses.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Resolutions



Resolutions. During the time of the year when we all look back to evaluate our life progress as well as set objectives for the next trip around the sun, I ponder. I wonder why there is so much self-improvement hoopla on January 1st compared to the rest of the year? I mean, technically, for all other animals living on earth, it’s just a regular day. Maybe we’re just way too busy the rest of the year? When I consider the questions from the standpoint of the measurable achievements and accolades accomplished this past year, I definitely feel as if I am falling short. I didn’t get a promotion at work. I didn’t win any special award. I didn’t earn a new title. I didn’t make more money. I didn’t move into a luxury home in an affluent neighborhood. I didn’t purchase a fancy expensive car. In fact, I don’t really have anything special or impressive to show for on the outside. But, I have lost and let go of many things on the inside. Fear. Self-doubt. Guilt. Shame. Self-defeating thoughts. An inner alchemy and purification of sorts. The result of lots of ongoing inner work and expansion. All invisible from the outside, but more important to me personally than any physical thing that I could have manufactured, produced or built. Daring to go where I was once so very afraid to go is the most important work that I continue to do. Don’t measure your progress only by what you have accomplished on the outside. Look within. Dare to explore your inner sky. Happy New Year! Resolutions.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Winter Solstice


Winter solstice. The shortest day of the year. The end of earth’s six month exhalation. The culmination of earth’s yearly light purge. The day when the earth is the most titled away from the sun. The extra darkness leaving us starving for light oxygen, making all life seem so very lifeless. A time for laying low, rest, recovery and rejuvenation. Why do humans have such a hard time embracing it as such? We’ve created these holidays that enable us to reconnect and spend time with our loved ones during this dim time of the year. But we end up running around in a frenzy as we rush and scramble, overfilling our days with parties and social outings. Are we missing the point? It may be a question worth asking? As much as winter solstice can feel like a low point, it also represents hope and brighter days ahead as the days now start to get longer. The beginning of earth’s six month inhalation. The switch from dying to rebirth as our planet starts to lean back into the sun, the source of all life. I have often said that I am not built or designed to live in this Canadian climate. Something about my body having a hard time thriving in this winter cold and darkness. But then again, it may just be that like other humans in the western society that I live in, I simply try to squeeze in too much, expecting to maintain the pace of warmer and longer days? Nature has its own rhythm. And the only way to thrive in it is to adopt the same frequency and amplitude. Winter solstice.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Shine


Shine. Endlessly chasing darkness, but never able to catch it, its rays simply continuously shine. Source of life energy and radiant light, it asks nothing but our embrace, our gift from this universe. Even when obscured by cloud cover or hidden on the other side of this planet earth, it is still there. It still gleams. Endlessly trailing the darkness that it can never meet, it radiates. The sun. Our revolving point. The darkness antidote. Both darkness and light cannot exist simultaneously. As soon as light appears, darkness disappears. It’s a scientific fact. Darkness, by definition, is the absence of light. As I sit here, in a certain darkness, I need to remind myself of this. As I sit here, all I need is to let this pass. All I need is to sit in the stillness of this night and wait for dawn of the new day. All I need is to wait for the light to bring me back to life. All I need is to let myself… Shine.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Is it worth dying for?


Search and discover what you are passionate about in this life and spend your time slowly killing yourself pursuing it. Sickness is never easy even if it is eventually always inevitable. We try to find someone or something to blame in an attempt to maintain our false belief that life is under our control. Loss of health is so very humbling, an undeniable reminder of our fragility. The standstill so very uncomfortable. The dismantling of the indestructibility illusion in our mind so very unsettling. As I recover from my bout with viral pericarditis, I have a new found appreciation for the simple feeling of my beating heart without the pain. For the time being, this feeling that was once unnoticeable has become very palpable. I miss my bike. Mostly, I miss where my bike takes me. I feel very grateful that soon, we will go there again. What are you pursuing? Is it worth dying for?

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Self-love


Self-love. Five hours after taking this picture last Friday, I’m lying on a stretcher in ER with fever and chest pains. I try to get some sleep between the ATV rider whimpering in agony holding his broken arm and the 15 year old hockey player who can’t remember what he ate for supper after a head hit in tonight’s game. Hooked up to this machine beside me, I glance over every once in a while to see what all of these attached wires are measuring. After over 15 hours, the diagnosis is viral pericarditis. A deja vu from almost 5 years ago. As I begin to feel much better, I wonder what this is trying to teach me. What does my broken heart need in this moment? Love. Self-love.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Sum


Sum. Our life is really but a sum. Its equation made up of being and doing. We’re born being. We learn doing. We need to. Our life depends on it. There are certain things that all animals, including humans, need to be able to do in order to survive. As our doing repertoire grows, so does our independence. This continues until we are able to take care of our own self. At this point, we become what we call an adult. We should now be able to earn a living and live happily ever after. Such a simple template. But is it working and who is it serving? It’s an important question that deserves our attention. Is it serving mankind? Or is it serving our economy? Is it teaching us how to make a living instead of a life? Is it teaching way too much doing and not close to enough being? Could that be why we often feel like our lives don’t add up? Could it be that we live in a world lost in doing? I ponder these questions during my last ride. The sum of why I ride is to let the doing part of turning the pedals bring me back to being. How balanced is your equation? What is your sum? The solution is not to do more. The solution is to be more. Sum.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Darkness


Darkness. My enthusiasm is always sluggish this time of the year. In nature, the extended darkness provides a time for necessary rest. I can’t seem to embrace it as such. I try to maintain summer’s pace. It has become my escape method. I have become very comfortable at its speed, just fast enough to avoid feeling. Nature is telling me to follow its lead. I recognize its truth, but I still resist. Staying busy is easier. Unconsciously, I am leaning towards disconnection. The temperature hovers around zero Celsius on Sunday. I ride out to the pavilion. My emotions linger close to the surface. But I can begin to feel a sense of ease as I sit there alone. Strangely, simply admitting to myself that I am unwell makes me feel better. Acknowledging my own darkness is the way forward. Reconnecting with life in nature’s now brings me back. As the days get shorter, I yearn for more light. And as the days get colder, I yearn to ride snow and ice covered roads that lead me to the serenity of the forest. I yearn, not to avoid feeling. But to embrace the season that is. Welcome to the dark time of the year. Slow down, and let it show you its light. Darkness.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pain


“The cure for the pain is in the pain.”  ~Rumi

Pain.  Our instinct is to run away from it.  Our instinct is to avoid it.  Our instinct is to remove our self from it.  But, in order to be free, in order to be healed, we need to bravely face it.  We need to befriend it.  We need to sit with it.  We need to fully feel it.  We need to get comfortable with it.  We need to embrace it.  Only then will we be able to rob it of it’s power.  Our pain is purposeful.  Our job is to figure out it’s purpose.  Pain.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Backward


Backward.  A wise man once told me that in order to truly know a road or a trail, you must have travelled it in both directions.  Preferably by bike.  Ok, I added that last piece…  Regardless how it is travelled, I strongly believe that this piece of wisdom also applies to life itself.  To have lived well means having lived in both directions.  It means having gone back to revisit your past in order to understand your present.  It means going back to forgive old versions of yourself in order to heal the current version of yourself.  It means going back to unload everything that no longer serves you.  It means going back to give your crap back to it’s rightful owner.  It means going back to understand what you couldn’t understand when you were in the middle of it.  It means going back to learn the lessons that you weren’t ready to learn until now.  When you refuse to go back, you end up carrying your past with you into the present and eventually into the future.  When you refuse to go back, you end up reliving your past over and over in a never-ending cycle.  The only way to move forward is by going back.  Backward is forward.  Backward.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fly


Fly.  This pic is from the seemingly everlasting summer of 1983.  I was 14 years old.  And my sole purpose at the time was to make the SE Racing logo wings on my PK Ripper take flight.  Ever since I started riding, I’ve always been obsessed with jumping.  I remember building small ramps in my backyard with wood planks and bricks when I was about 6 years old.  Eventually, as I got older, the ramps got bigger and bigger.  After assembling each of these launching contraptions, there was always a certain delay before someone gathered enough courage to actually launch it.  This was how legends were born back in the day.  No suspension, small 20 inch wheels, landing on flat ground.  You either acquired new scars and a good “the time I nearly died” story or you were immortalized as a neighborhood icon.  Often, even if you crashed, you still came out of it with all three.  There is something about the feeling of the wheels of my bike losing contact with the ground that fascinates me.  Maybe it’s the human animal instinct to want to be like the birds?  Even at 51 years old, riding a well built pump track on my mountain bike is one of my favorite ways to ride.  Clearing a set of doubles still gives me goosebumps.  The feeling of the bike gently sailing, hovering in the open space between mounds of dirt is simply incredible.  Compress, release, recompress.  It isn’t about speed.  It’s about flow.  It’s about letting the bike rise after gracefully coaxing it.  It’s about just letting it…  Fly.