Sunday, October 30, 2011


it was 5:30 in the morning, and i was freezing cold.

she had told me to wear the knee warmers she had loaned to me. she had told me to bring a jacket and warm riding gear. i had brought all of these things. i had checked the forecast. i was ready. i was layered and layered but not wrapped in a jacket. i had strong enough legs, doused in warming embrocation, but no knee warmers. it was 5:30 in the morning on saturday, and i was chattering my teeth down sixteenth street into the heart of washington, d.c.

best buddies is an organization dedicated to facilitating the interaction of persons with developmental disabilities with the rest of us and our disabilities. the fundraising requirements were steeper than the hills (we got some over 10% grade). the temperature was lower than my energy level after an all-night drive less than 24 hours before. and all around, there were smiling faces and ridiculously-enthusiastic rest stop spirit-cheerleaders. this was a great ride.

sometimes, the point is not to go fast. and sometimes, the point is to go, not fast. the entire day was spent trying not to break any teeth as they chattered in the shade, trying not to fall asleep after gorging myself at the rest stops. we stopped often. we ate much. we hydrated. and through it all, it was great to go slow. other than being cold, it was a great ride. never once was i worried about my equipment or whether or not i'd be able to keep up with the group. i had energy and time to do stupid things, like charge hills so i could pee at the top and jump back on before being passed, or pedal a super low cadence on the little hills on the course, coaxing a burning workout out of the slow, slow pace. best of all, i spent the day with a couple of guys i don't see often enough, and we did it on bikes, and we laughed heartily in spite of any and all discomfort. even if it was slow, it was well worth the drive.

i've been reflecting further and further this year, mostly on achievement of goals. as we all know, my goals are few, simple, and generally unexciting. my realtime goals lack panache, which is odd for someone of my own history, but they are true and few, and generally unexciting.

my dad told me once, when i was in high school, about a time when he was in high school, and he figured out that to do all the things he wanted to do, and be all the things he wanted to be, at that time, he needed three things: a really good camera, a really good guitar, and a car. i can't remember what the lesson was in that conversation (inevitably, there would have been at least one), but i feel like i've had those thoughts frequently in my life. if i could just get/accomplish these three things, i'd be set. of course, things are never this simple.

my job is relatively simple. unfortunately, it is starting to pile up and i am utterly unmotivated (hence the writing/procrastination right now) to do the homework that is sitting in the kitchen. my children are wonderful and rarely require above-and-beyond measures of being/parenting to meet their needs. my lady is solid and hard-working and even likes me every now and again. the big pieces of the puzzle have mostly been figured out. the part that grates on my mind, then, is all the stuff that hasn't been figured out, and that must be addressed, on one level or another, every single damn day. these things require myriad steps just to be solved or disposed of or cleared from my to-do list, and they are not simple and few like my goals; they are ubiquitous and incessant, like my insecurities.

i thought like my dad a little while ago, sure that i would be set once these few things happened or were acquired. i got and built a custom steel dream bike. i worked extra in the summer. i trained smart in running and got new shoes and stretched more than ever in my life. i did photography for free. i planted vegetables and drank smoothies and drove safely and made special trips for important events. and now all of those goals, all of those well-meaning pieces of the method puzzle, have come and gone and been tarnished by some aspect of the present reality. the dream bike has been anything but a dream since its acquisition and import to the country. the plantar fasciitis in my left foot has kept me off running for the last two months. the extra summer work pay has fizzled to goodness knows where. and all the safe driving in the world couldn't stop the utter destruction of the only things we invest in after the children and our overpriced educations.

now i'd be set if my homework was done, my bike was actually in my goddam house in full working order, and i had more than a hundred bucks to go on till the next paycheque. i'd be set if i got up in the morning and didn't have to take off the night brace that keeps my plantar fasciitis at bay. i'd be set if all the photography i do could actually be downloaded onto a computer that doesn't crash or run out of memory at the mere mention of an additional 3-MB file.

i don't mean to whine. of course, it's the easiest thing to do and write about, as happiness is too busy being enjoyed to be yearned for. it's just that these days, all the simple goals, simply achieved, have dissolved into dissatisfaction. it's time to achieve something else.

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