Thursday, February 27, 2020

Self-love deficit

There is a major self-love deficit in the world today.  I’m not talking about narcissism.  I’m talking about loving and accepting our own self as we truly are.  As imperfect human beings.  With our flaws, shortcomings and limitations.  The highly competitive society that we have created is breaking us.  The so-called losers are falling short.  Society indirectly sending them the message that they are less than.  The so-called winners aren’t really winning either.  They never really feel full because they still always have room for improvement.  Sitting on the top echelon, they live in fear of being taken down.  They have tasted victory and understand its fickleness.  We have been sold the idea that competition is the best way to push progression.  But have we reached a level where the price has simply become too expensive?  Mental health issues have increased significantly over the past decade.  Yet, we keep increasing expectations.  A dog eat dog mentality brings out the worse in people as they desperately try to build themselves back up.  It cultivates greed, hatred and fear.  And greedy, hateful and afraid people aren’t very kind, compassionate or generous.  I mean, competition is good on a fundamental level.  It‘s a survival instinct.  It‘s the foundation behind evolution and natural selection.  Utilitarian in the animal kingdom, but do we really need to cultivate it as much as we do in our human societies?  If what we truly want from life is to be happy, is winning more the answer?  We can build our minds and bodies to perform at an elite level, but if we neglect to also build what’s in our hearts we’ll always feel a certain inner void.  Lost in chasing higher numbers, we lose our emotional selves.  We will never be able to eliminate competition completely but has our spirit become overly competitive?  There are many things that I don’t know.  But I’m pretty sure that more competitive ambition isn’t the way to fill this self-love deficit.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Silence.  So very rare in today’s world.  So much racket.  So much chitter-chatter.  So much ambient babble.  So used to all of the background noise that we don’t hear it anymore.  Our definition of silence obscured by all the commotion.  True silence all the more terrifying.  So unusual that we’ve become allergic to it.  A deep panic sets in when we come face to face with it.  Our minds not knowing what to do with the quietness.  Our brains unable to speak the language of its nothingness.  Tirelessly trying to avoid it by listening to the radio when driving and keeping the television on when not watching.  Silence has simply become unbearable.  One of the things that I love about winter is its silent stillness.  Nature’s dormant season, not as lively as the rest of the year, so very tranquil.  Something about the blanket of snow muffling the surrounding sounds.  It’s one my favorite things about a cold winter day out in nature.  It has a way of making the silence more inviting.  Its peacefulness uncovered.  Like an empty canvas or a blank sheet of paper, silence is the foundation on which life is created.  Silence is what we’re born from and what we’ll eventually return to.  Maybe the purpose of life is to become comfortable with the silence?   Maybe the purpose of life is to learn how to be alone in it without feeling lonely?  Silence is divine.  Silence is fertile.  Silence is patient.  Silence is sincere.  Silence is the food that our soul feeds on.  Only after we have emptied ourselves into the silence can we begin to understand.  Stop losing yourself in the noise.  Come home.  Silence.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Winter Fade

Photo credit Don Ricker / Skylight Photo

Winter fade.  My toes nestled against my merino wool socks inside my winter boots.  The crunchy echo of the fat tires buzzing across the frozen packed snow.  The wind chill pecking at my exposed nose.  The stiff cold air infiltrating my lungs.  The toasty warm feeling stirring in my working legs.  The cozy warmth creeping up from my quads into the rest of my body.  The cool morning stillness.  There is a certain awakening feeling about the cold that you don’t get with summer warmth.  A feeling of aliveness.  A feeling of purposeful movement.  My body enters into this heightened state, becoming less lazy as it revs up in order to start ramping up heat production.  Each effort and movement actually helping it do its thing.  My fat cells living up to their purpose, as insulation, and as a source of energy.  Nothing more is needed.  Proficient simplicity.  Just the ease of this moment.  Body, mind and soul melt into my bike.  The bike and rider disappear.  All that is left is the riding.  Winter fade.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Illuminate. Humans are the only living beings that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s not that other organisms don’t feel sluggish, tired and unmotivated during the winter months. The difference is that they don’t fight it. They hibernate. They sleep. They hole up. They lie dormant. They embrace the stagnation of the lifeless season. They understand and recognize winter as a time of rest, recovery and preparation. Humans don’t have much compassion for winter. We have a hard time seeing its purpose. We mostly just see it as a nuisance, something that we need to endure. We also expect to keep the same work hours and productivity level year round even if our bodies are most often telling us that it goes against our natural biological rhythm. We have no respect for winter’s weight. An attitude of dissociation from the natural world that we ironically are also part of. Riding up into this open area last weekend, my eyes caught a glimpse of the bright high noon sun shining down. Feeling like I was running on empty, I stopped to soak it in. Standing there alone, looking directly at the light, letting it gently kiss my bare face, I felt myself mercifully being filled up. We constantly try to fill our energy deficit with caffeine and food. But what if one of the best remedies for the winter blues is simply natural sunlight. Illuminate.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Pain Cave

Pain cellar.  There is this place deep inside of me that I am no longer willing to go to.  Actually, it’s more than an unwillingness.  It’s more like a newfound inability.  So many years spent regularly venturing there.  Relentlessly practicing.  Going deeper and deeper.  Mind over matter.  Mobilizing every last bit of willpower.  Attempting to overcome.  Forcing it.  Fighting against my own body.  At war with the very framework that keeps me alive.  Physically thrashing my own life-giving anatomy.  My body’s instincts begging me to back off.  Still stubbornly pushing through.  The lactic acid burn of each effort highlighting the smoldering effect of my inner hellfire.  A desperate attempt to release what I have been suppressing for so long.  The rescue method that I have used so many times before, without realizing that it only releases the pressure, but never really cleans up the mess.  Aggressive force can never shine light onto repressed darkness.  This is the type of pain that can never be conquered.  It requires a merciful approach to melt it away.  Riding for me is no longer a form of self-punishment for the pain that I cannot feel.  It’s a friendship with my body.  A harmonious camaraderie with my soul.  An act of kindness.  A gesture of self-love.  A peaceful coaxing.  A prayer inviting what is no longer serving me to check out.  How clean do you keep your inner basement?  Pain cellar.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Open Spaces

Open spaces. Feeling lost. Still knowing exactly where I was. Part of me trying to run away. The other part of me trying to find my way. The unplowed snow covered gravel service road so much slower than when I had last ridden it last summer. The loose rock surface now completely covered with deep tire ruts in the firm snow. In my mind, the distance that I had to cover seemed so much less than what it felt like as I was pedaling through it. The boundless energy, and engaging conversation with the old lumberjack over an hour ago, were but a distant memory. The humble logger had reminded me of my dad. He was impressed by my bike, not expecting to see someone riding way out here, especially in the dead of winter. We were both impressed by how gorgeous and peaceful it was in the woods that day. I struggled to keep moving as the road crested. Out of the forest, into the open. Against the frozen field backdrop, I felt as lifeless as this iced meadow looked. I thought about the dormant life under the heavy snow blanket. Buried. Unable to move. Its vitality also concealed. Idling. It knows that its time to blossom and shine will come. The pasture isn’t in a rush as it waits for Spring under the snow. Nature is never desperate. It just patiently waits. Winter’s pace is definitely slow-moving. But, it’s still forward. Open spaces.

Thursday, February 6, 2020


Woodland. My eyes infatuated with the smooth white lane in front of me, my gaze diverges just enough to notice the trunks and branches go by on both sides of the blurry tree corridor that I am riding through. The singing and humming of the fat studded tires rolling on the packed snow create such a pleasant melody that echoes under the forest canopy. The deep rumble, different from the sound of riding on dirt, gravel or pavement, but just as beautiful. A drumroll in anticipation of the next drop or banked turn. No struggle. Just allowing. No thinking. Just, in the moment, flow. Winter mountain biking conditions literally at it’s absolute finest. My riding mindset has definitely changed the last few years. My eyes no longer look for the fastest lines. My mind no longer focuses on the wheel ahead and behind me. It’s more about seeing and carving the trail’s smooth fun lines. Taking the longer line to carve a turn or hit a jump. The urgency of the race has left my reason. It’s absence creating space. Space for the exhilaration of the ride experience to surface. My riding is less about the adrenaline and more about the serotonin. The trail system no longer my proving ground. It’s my playground. Woodland.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Birch Church

Birch Church. Before the doctrines and the scriptures. Before the priests and the preachers. Before the commandments and the repeated prayers. Before the dogma and the creed. Before the structured religions and ideological systems. Before the temples and the public worship buildings. Before all of this, since the very beginning, human animals have always gone to church. Alone, riding through the white birches, this all became so very clear as I realized where I was. I was in the original church. The sunlight, radiating through the trees, like stained glass, drawing pretty lines on the snow white canvas. The silence and serenity in that moment, caressing me with it’s deep sense of peace. I just stood there, beside my bike, submerged. The setting guiding me towards truth. Not a generic golden truth. Not someone else’s truth. My own personal truth. The truth that lives deep inside of me, in my heart. Truth that you can’t find written in a book, especially one that you haven’t written. After re-mounting my bike, hunkered down over my bar and stem, each pedal stroke became my silent prayer. A communion of sorts with nature and the sheltering forest. The surfacing intimate truth my gospel. I am not religious, but I know what church feels like, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with man-made religion. Mine was lined with white birches. Birch Church.