May 14th, 2006
Language is a tool, a tool that helps us communicate, connect, convince, influence, share, and educate. Language is a tool and just as with any other tool it must be used correctly, consciously, and when necessary repaired, maintained, or even replaced.
English itself is a beautiful, dynamic language with a rich history going back hundreds and hundreds of years. Shakespeare, Thoreau, and Einstein all used this canvas to paint thoughts, words, and ideas for us, things which many of us still cherish and learn from today.
But the English language has been raped by our lies and insecurities.
The other day I was sitting with a friend who was describing a mutual aquaintance for whom I, for whatever reason, couldn't place in my memory. She mentioned his name and said he was "big" and me, being the straight forward person I like to think I am and assuming that we were both using English assumed she meant: "Of considerable size, number, quantity, magnitude, or extent; large." In other words, a "big" person has more "size" and "magnitude" and to generalize this it would imply that this person was both taller and wider than the average bloke. For instance, if I described one fifth grader as being "bigger" than my daughter I would mean bigger in magnitude or extent, i.e. in height and weight.
If 5% of people have, for whatever reason, choosen to redefine English words then communication between them and the rest of us becomes difficult if not sometimes impossible. In this context I didn't assume that "big" == "fat" because that's not the historical nor agreed upon use of the term.
But someone was offended and decided to change it.
My friend of course was offended when I asked her why she didn't simply describe our shared aquaintence in a straight forward manner. I was being "rude". Granted, the person we were talking about must be at least two to three hundred pounds but that's not fat and anyone that said otherwise must be insulting him.
So instead of communicating we danced around the English langauge for a minute or two. And the funny thing is I might have said "overweight" and not offended her sensibilities but the fact is that word directly implies that someone has a fault with themselves, i.e. they are "over" some artifically (socially) defined weight limit.
Who the fuck desides such rediculous notions anyway? Is it insane of me to expect that other humans speaking the same language communicate in an unambiguous manner with the intent of sharing ideas in a clear and straight forward fashion? Is it too much of me to want to have a conversation that's not steeped in social hypocrisim, politically correct obfuscation, and this cloak and dagger reallocation of meaning?
We have abused our language at the expense of a deeper connection to each other!
Now suppose for a moment I agree with many of you out there that say that the term "fat" is simply insulting and should be avoided by any considerate person regardless of intent.
What about it's opposite?
When I was growing up I was what you'd call a string bean. And I hated it. I ate like a horse but I never gained any weight. I wore baggy clothes because I was ashamed of the way I looked and didn't like to go anywhere without a fairly large shirt. I HATED being skinny and I felt terribly insecure when anyone brought attention to it. And lets be real, haven't you ever heard a group of gossipy women insulting another girl behind her back with the use of the word "skinny". This word is often used as way to attack, insult, and disparage.
I never liked being called skinny.
If we were to use the same logic as many make with the word fat we'd have to also agree that any compassionate person would not use the word skinny. Granted, there are fewer people that would agree that skinny is an insult yet it would be unkind to decide the use of a term simply on numbers. Instead we should assume the use of a term should correlate to the possibility of perceived suffering it might potentially cause one individual.
So skinny is out, underweight is in. Except now people have caught on and are insulted by this so we call skinny people small or petite but no, they've caught on to that one too and pretty soon we have to reinvent the entire English language because we've bent it so far out of shape that we've used every word to somehow get around to describing someone as being a little thinner than the rest of us.
As a culture we've learned to accept these agreed upon lies and the price of this is confusion, oversensitivity, and a detachment from reality. We're walking on egg shells trying not to offend anyone else but we're all so damn quick to take offense to sounds that we've forgotten that what's most important is meaning and intent.
Language is a tool.
Imagine working on a deck with some friends. You've brought a load of lumber to your house and have a large collection of tools that are right for the job including but not limited to:
- Miter Box
- Hand Saws
- Skill Saws
- Nail gun
- Air Compressor
So you all meet one sunny Saturday morning and pull out the blue prints but your friend Jeff, who's always been rather stubborn and individualistic, starts pulling out 2x4's and gets the Skill Saw going.
"What are you doing?" you ask.
"I'm cutting the wood so we can build the deck."
"We need to figure out what lengths to cut them first," you tell him. "Here, lets look at the blue print together."
But Jeff's not interested because, unknown to the rest of us, Jeff doesn't know how to read a blue print and is too insecure to admit this to his male companions. So you tell him he can be in charge of the skill saw but just wait while you figure out how long to make the pieces. Having gone to school for it you read the lengths off to him and ask your other friend John to help steady the lengths of wood while Jeff cuts off the end when problem #2 hits...
John doesn't want to hold onto the wood.
Now John's afraid of power tools because he knows they're inherintely dangerous and in his mind's eye he sees people's fingers being severed. But just like Jeff he doesn't want to admit that to his drinking buddies so he acts all tough and says, "This is dumb, when I was a kid we used to cut everything by hand." So John refuses to help Jeff and is off by himself using a handsaw.
So now you're helping Jeff with the Skill saw while John saws by hand and though this is a rather ass backwards way to get things done you finally manage and a few days later everything's cut to length and it's time to assemble the pieces so you do the obvious thing and grab the nail gun, connect it to the air compressor, and start putting pieces in place.
But no, you can't do that!
Jeff is from a little known Buddhist sect that believes that using a hammer is a violent act towards the wood spirits and will karmically come back to haunt him in the next life. John, on the other hand, is doesn't believe in hammering because it makes a lot of noise and might wake someone in the neighborhood up who works the night shift. Frustrated you ask what you're supposed to do then.
"Duct Tape!" they say in unison.
Tools have real, concrete, and straight forward functions. We don't build a deck or a house through false hope, obfuscation, insecurity, or the politically correct application of building materials. That being said I don't understand why so many of us have chosen to literally rape the English language. Instead of using it to communicate we use it to take offense, to insult, to assume insult, and to thickly apply liberal layers of vague bullshit.
That being said here are some words that describe me either in the past or the present:
- Overly Sensitive
Though many of these words have caused me great pain in the past, it would be unfair and simply rediculous for me to ask society not to use them simply because my feelings were hurt. Sometimes they were an accurate description of me, sometimes they were not. Sometimes they were intented to insult me, sometimes they were not.
Language is a tool. Perception is a matter of personal choice. The next step in the evolution of our species requires a fundemental understanding of this.
March 29th, 2006
It's time, time to sit down and write again. After having ridden about 750 miles from Portland to Walla Walla down to Prineville and back through a lovely little (and twisty) town called Maupin then back again...well, you'd think I'd have a lot to say, a lot to share, yet I find myself feeling strangly reserved.
Matter 1: Riding Alone vs. Riding with Someone Else
Last summer I rode from Portland to Eugene to Prineville then down onto Mount Shasta and back almost entirely by myself (I followed my parents who were in their car from Prineville to Mount Shasta). Riding on my own was a completely liberating experience. My mind was focused on the obvious: the road, corners, obstacles, and drivers chatting away "innocently" on their cell phones. My spirit was completely free and dancing through the forests and mountains and air and road and experiences, thoughts, everything, seemed to flow through me without conflict or obstacle.
This time I rode with Vipassana; it was her first long distance motorcycle trip. We were in constant (although not always reliable) contact via two FRS radios which we kept in our respective tank bags. Unlike last summer's jaunt I couldn't simply go my own pace and speed but often found myself taking corners much more slowly than I otherwise would and stopping more frequently for the often necessary stretching of the aching legs and buttocks. Though we were surrounded with similar beauty and challenges found in my first trip, the new challenge for me was to adapt not only to the environment of the road, corners, obstacles, and drivers chatting away "innocently" on their cell phones, but also take into account Vipassana's level of experience, comfort, etc., etc. and adapt my riding style in real time.
Matter 2: Strange Nightmares
Though I've been having what I'd consider a "good" week burning up rubber and seeing friends and family I've been experiencing nightmares every night for the last three or four nights. I don't remember many of them but at least two were about looking for a new place to live; I typically experience this theme when I'm (at least subconsciously) nervous about "job security"--and the fact is I'm always nervous about taking a few days off because my co-workers always seem to be nervous about me taking a few days off so in response I have these strange dreams that I'm looking for a new house either in Portland or Eugene or Prineville. I also had one dream where a girl fell in love with me and though not nightmarish per say I woke up hoping it was psychic in nature (it was not) and then realized fairly quickly it was in response to some kind of feeling of emptiness (one a bike, like it or not, cannot fill). Can't seem to remember the others though I know I had some pretty intense ones this morning.
So the symbolism of the dreams I remember is fairly straight forward. What I'm wondering, though, is why I'm having them with such abnormal-high frequency. I'm hoping to have that question answered by Sunday but if not, c'est la vie. Sometimes we don't get the answers we're looking for regardless of how hard we might look.
Matter 3: Bedtime
Which it is presently so I must bid you goodnight.
March 24th, 2006
I love it when my day starts with unsolicited advice. Take this morning. Rode the hooligan into work, Britney Spear's Toxic blaring in the helmet, parked and then saw someone park behind me. While I was taking off the helmet he noticed the scraped up crankcase cover and said, "I know a place in NE Portland that can fix that cheap." Did this stranger introduce himself? Did he ask if I planned to get it fixed? (Answer: When I pay off the bike--for now it serves as a friendly reminder) Did he seem interested in any kind of connection with me other than assuming I live in the same universe he does?
People are easy to read, all you need do is listen.
So I'd written a note to myself write about Britney Spear's song Toxic which is the only one of her songs I've ever liked or purposefully (and repeatedly) listened to (constantly). Part of my fixation is because it was used as background music for the second episode of the new (2005) season of Doctor Who which I soaked up like a sponge last Friday. Then there's just this love of the lyrics which are so true and there's something to be said to rockin' out on the hooligan to lyrics about addictively toxic people which is preferable to actually being taken on a ride with intoxicatingly addictive people. I love to hit the corners with this song blaring!
Speaking of something that looks hell-a-fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
=UfdLlMf6PwwLast but not least for today's semi-daily ramble, a picture of "Countrified", a country music band from Prineville, Oregon that I played with once for a wedding out in Pendleton or something while I was in high school. Easiest $90 I've ever earned (but I must admit I felt like a twit playing country and being so shy--i.e. not bouncing to the rhythm like all the other yokels).
I am soooo looking forward to putting a thousand miles on my bike next week :-)
Asta,March 22nd, 2006
In fourth or fifth grade I spent a month wearing a black leather glove on my right hand while I was out on the playground. I liked to pretend I was Luke Skywalker and Vader had just cut my hand off before shocking me with the truth about my dark and twisted heritage. I had a girlfriend then and I used to push her and her best friend on the swings. One day she did her hair in buns like Princess Leia. She asked me if I liked her or her friend better. I had had a crush on her friend since the second grade so I told her the truth.
No more pushing on the swings.
In the sixth grade I wore corduroys each day, every day. Sometimes blue, sometimes green, sometimes brown. I also took sweaters to school and would tie them by the arms around my waist and walk up and down the halls. No one else dressed remotely like I did and that was okay.
That was my corduroy year.
When I was sixteen I started wearing this green hat and a denim jacket. I'd found the hat in my dad's den, he'd bought it years before to wear as a character he was performing in one of many plays he was involved in while I was growing up. The material of the hat was soft and though it probably hadn't been in style for twenty years I started to wear it everywhere, to school, to church, to youth groups, to Australia. While I was down under friends and family there would ask, "Do all American's wear those?"
I liked to think of myself as The Man in the Green Hat.
As a freshman and sophomore in high school I always wore a dress shirt and tie. You could say I wanted to emulate my band teacher who I thought was weird-cool-talented and he'd always throw his tie over his shoulder whenever he got wild into the act of telling us band and jazz band geeks where the tempo was going. I liked to wear some wild colours too, pink shirt with a red tie, red shirt with a black tie, and walking down the halls of cowboys and jocks I didn't at all fit in.
And that was okay.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties I let my hair grow out and I dyed it black. I started dressing like a cross between Kurt Cobain and some kind of off-world hippie. I spent my nights walking around Eugene, mile after mile in the cold and rain. I could talk to almost anyone, everyone seemed to just accept me as a lost soul wandering in the dark.
I was a lost soul wandering in the dark.
When I was in my late twenties I'd often go to work in a kilt. I ordered it, hand-made, straight from the Scottish Highlands and in my family tartan. I'd wear black shirts from Hot Topic and my hair was dyed purple, blue, or bright red. I got the most compliments for dark Manic Panic purple which looked black except when the light hit it right. And then the dot coms came and went and I shaved my head and hit the pavement in search for my daily bread.
I miss the extravagant exploration of truly free expression.
Last year I bought a red, black, and white Joe Rocket motorcycle jacket, pants, and a bright red Scorpion helmet. Though they're primarily for safety I love the way I look and feel in them. I especially like going grocery shopping, it's the only time where people come up to me out of nowhere and ask me what I'm riding, when women look at me shyly, smile, then quickly glance away.
Yes, my ass looks good.
I've always found a way to have a little fun with clothes, though growing up I usually wore hand-me-downs from friends of the family. My attire was usually a year or two out of style so there was an incentive to wear what I had with a little of my own unique (and arguably bizarre) flare. And because I've never fit into any group (except for a brief time that of "band geek") dressing up in my own way made me a group of one and in a strange way almost everyone (and I mean almost everyone) would stereotype me by categorical polarization, that is to say, I would become whatever I reminded them they were not. So if I looked more "hippie" than they were I was a hippie, if I looked more "geek" than they were I was a geek, and so on and so forth--though I didn't exactly fit into any of these artificial boxes in any sufficient, permanent, or even valid way.
As our brains are really just complex pattern matching machines our tendency is to get "stuck" in a pattern once it's been defined in our neural nets One of my patterns, which I've only recently discovered, is this ever changing sense of style that doesn't match up with almost any other human on the planet and it changes from year to year, decade to decade, incarnation after incarnation. It is a fairly flexible pattern but the illusion is that I have complete freedom. Instead I have a tendency to find a style, stick to it for a time, then move completely to some other style--and my wardrobe never undergoes a massive change but typically evolves slowly until shirts wear out or I give them as hand me downs to my daughter who loves wearing my black Hot Topic t-shirts (if she ever goes Goth, Goddess save us all :-)
So what am I missing? How can I break into a more flexible, larger, and more creative pattern?
The answer I leave for another day :-)
So when I was a child I thought like a child and acted like a child and dressed like a child and emulated the superficial traits of one of my childhood heroes. Now that I'm a man I think I'll emulate some of the deeper aspects of this wild and wacky guy:
- The ability to live in the moment, regardless of the situation.
- The ability to be calm (and eat Jelly Babies) even while my life is threatened by murderous aliens.
- The ability to simply see things for what they are.
- The ability to accept and communicate with a wide variety of people and aliens (most people seem to fall into the latter group!).
- The ability to take on and solve any problem that presents itself, no matter how difficult.
- The ability to live anywhere in time and (relative dimensions in) space without being stuck anywhere in time and (relative dimensions in) space.
- The ability to not take things personally when nobody gets me.
Ah, there are no small mountains to climb but this is the only life this body has, my friends. We must learn to savor it!
March 20th, 2006
The great irony of finding enlightenment is that the lessons we search after for years and years are almost always right in front of our faces. Take for instance my life long belief that to find enlightenment I had to come to a magical place where I could accept anyone into my life, after all, that was part of the stereotype I had regarding this whole enlightenment thing. The irony is I learned, at about five years old, that putting my hand on a hot stove was a rather stupid thing to do. I never did that again. Yet time after time I've accepted people into my life who have negatively impacted it--and usually out of a misplaced need to be fair, accepting, strong, and yes, to find an enlightment that wasn't really there (although the experience and the knowledge coming from it were).
Like it or not I've learned that I don't need to accept everyone into my life and that sometimes there's even a need to actively protect myself against other people who turn out to be verbally, mentally, emotionally, and even psychically, destructive towards me or others in my life.
So here it is, Aslynn's Top Ten Personal Boundaries:
10. Talking Behind People's Backs - Call me old fashioned but you're not going to earn any brownie points with me if you talk behind my back or use me to talk behind someone else's. Sure, we all need to express our views about our life, the ups and downs, with people other than those frustrating us but it crosses a line when it turns into gossip, slander, character bashing, criticism, and backstabbing and I won't hear it if you're going to rationalize your behavior, sorry, don't have much respect for that. If you feel this is an appropriate way to resolve problems then we have a fundemental difference of opinion; I just don't want that kind of energy in my life.
9. Intentionally Hurting, Manipulating, and/or Taking Advantage of Me or Those I Care About - Since the day of the cave man (and arguably before) this rule has been true. You have your tribe, I have mine. Now if you come into my tribe flinging rocks or trying to steal food or women I'm going to pick up sticks and scream and shout and wave my arms around like a wild animal. If you come into my tribe bearing gifts I'm more than likely going to accept you. But if I accept you then you start flinging rocks, stealing food, and raping the women, I'm going to pick up a stick and beat you on the ass until you leave and I'm not going to be so trusting the next time you come with a Harry & David fruit basket. That's just the law of the jungle and frankly it amazes me that it's taken me thirty years to get that one (in my defense I am arguably dense when my sense of fairness is challenged)!
8. Lies, Dishonesty, Deception - Almost everyone I've ever met admits they're attracted to honesty and that they're in fact very honest people. Ironically very few people I've met have kept their promises to me. I've learned that people who can rationalize a white lie when the sun is out will tell a tall tale when the rain storms hit. I believe that when you're caught with your pants down (as I have been often enough in this life) you don't try the "Look, the Good Year Blimp!" routine. Sorry, doesn't work with me--but three strikes and you're out does.
7. Give Unsolicited Feedback or Advice, Especially in Terms of Parenting - Love is hard to find. So is a good friendship. The easiest thing to find, though, is someone who knows next to nothing about your life who's willing to tell you how to walk a thousand miles in your own shoes. I mean really, when you're looking for a friend or a partner are you seeking out someone who will give you unsolicited feedback, advice, or criticism. Or someone who will accept you for who you are?
I added the "Especially in Terms of Parenting" bit because of a few experiences I've had in the last three years. When I was a kid other adults didn't tell each other how to parent, it just wasn't done. I think the term is faux paux. Now-a-days, though, it's not uncommon to meet someone and before I know it they're telling me, a guy who's studied child psychology for over a decade now, how I'm being too this or too that (typically from parents with permissive parenting styles). To parents who for whatever reason think it's their business and especially to those parents who's children throw daily tantrums I have this to say, "I adopted a girl that didn't have a father. I didn't have to, I choose to though I knew the sacrifices would be many. I've helped her get over terribly aggressive and self destructive behaviors. I've been there for her since her first day in first grade, I'll be there for her prom, her high school graduation, and if she gets married I'll walk her down the isle. That not good enough for you? Then frankly you can go fuck yourself."
Nope, no emotion there ;)
6. Inability to Listen - I need people in my life who listen. If I say, "I like jogging because it brings something spiritually satisfying to my days," and you later think I like jogging so I can stare at women in sports bras then I'm going to feel like there's a slight disconnect. If I say I don't want unsolicited advice but you keep telling me how to ride my motorcycle or tie my shoes then I'm going to feel like there's a disconnect. And if I say that you've crossed one of my personal boundaries and you say, "No I haven't!" then I'm really going to think you don't get it. It is a waste of breath to talk with someone who is demonstrates a consistent inability to listen.
5. Unrealistic, Unfair, and Impossible Expectations (also see Double Standards) - I'm empathic and to a greater or lesser extent I'm psychic, but I can't sense everything others need or want--nor do I want to. I knew someone once who, weeks after the fact, would lay into me because I'd taken pictures while at the beach instead of doing X, Y, or Z--even though I'd made a point at that time of asking them what they'd like to do. Their response? "You should have just known." (WTF?) Personally I think communication is important but jumping on someone because they didn't psychically tune into your expectation to have a door opened or a bag picked up or a phone call returned or what have you--it's unfair and frankly quickly degrades into a loose-loose situation.
On a slight tangent Vipassana has asked me if I can often sense people's expectations why don't I simply give in to them and make people happy? Answer: Did that, done that. It's time consuming, energy consuming, and ends up being destructive to oneself. There's a point you need to let people grow up and accept what you have to offer when you have to offer it. So you're empathic, doesn't mean you're a puppet.
4. Hypocricsy - We've all heard "Walk the walk, talk the talk" and most of us agree. But it's not just walk any walk, it's walk your own walk. If you say you're this way, walk this way. If you say you're that way, walk that way. If you say you've decided to change and do a stranger walk with a skip every third step, then do that. Just don't tell me you're say a kind, thoughtful, loving, and loyal person then turn around and start dating someone else or start slandering my best friend or what not. That's now how you earn my respect. Seriously, that's not how it works.
3. Inability to Apologize, Learn From Mistakes, and Demonstrate Personal Growth - This is a big one for me and is something I've only recently learned about myself. If you're stuck living a life of fear, if you're stuck in destructive or poisonous patterns, if you're not interested in becoming physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthier tomorrow than you are today, then there will be dischord between us. Most people don't handle confrontation or change all that well, even if it's positive in nature, and I am, by my very nature, a creature of change. Those two personality types don't mix without causing an enormous amount of tension and unhappiness. I don't want that. Why would you?
2. "I'm always right" - I really don't have time for people who think they're always right. Granted, I've yet to meet someone who thinks their shit smells like roses but when people have the attitude that it's okay for their shit to smell but you're somehow committing a sin when your does--I hate that. I'm gonna be frank, I think people that always think they're right are stuck. In particular it especially offends me when people tell me how I feel. I know it's strange but I'm me and I know how and feel and what I think and when someone tells me no, I'm wrong, I instead feel and think something else--well, I use that as a clue to point out someone suffering from "I'm always right", a disease which, I've found, makes true communication and any sort of deep and trusting intimacy nearly impossible.
1. Crossing Well Defined Boundaries - Say I sit down with you and tell you I don't like it when people talk behind my back, I won't stand for someone intentionally hurting me or those I care about, and I don't want unsolicited advice, especially about my personal relationship with my daughter. Say I tell you I don't like unrealistic or unfair expectations being projected on me, I don't respect hypocricy, and know that people who can't demonstrate the ability to learn and grow aren't going to be able to adapt to me as I evolve as a human being. Say I tell you I don't want to be involed in a "I'm always right" conversation. Say I tell you all this and you decide to disregard it?
An enlightened man only stabs himself in the foot if and when he chooses to. Some would call that crazy, I call it wisdom.
March 19th, 2006
I'm beginning to think there are more types of motorcycle riders than there are people. This is, of course, completely impossible unless we assume at least one motorcyclist has a split personality. Two years ago the only thing I knew about bikes was that I've always wanted to ride one. Then a friend took me out to a few dealerships and like a nervous virgin I sat on a bike for my first time in a Triumph dealership and learned where the clutch and gear shift and breaks and throttle were located and it all felt very alien and new and exciting and overwhelming. .I learned about Yamahas and Suzukis and Hondas and Harley Davidsons and I learned about cruisers and sports bikes and standards and sport touring bikes and sat on a Goldwing just for fun. I learned about dry weight and rake, about cc's and ABS breaking systems, I learned, I learned, and I learned.
I started to see it at this time, that there are many different kinds of riders. At first this understanding came as an unrepeatable criticism of Harley owners who were described to me as elitist snobs. As I don't like to take on other people's baggage I moved on and out into the world of motorcycling by first taking the Team Oregon training course and even my instructor, a long time rider and a Beaverton Police officer, had more than a few snide remarks to make about the regular "weekender" Harley rider and I thought okay, so a lot of them don't wear adequate protection because there's this whole culture of leather and shiney chrome and biker "bitches" leaning against the sissy bars, etc., etc., etc. but that doesn't mean they're a bunch of jerks (as expert #1 implied) or ride like idiots (as expert #2 flat out said).
For example, it is common courtesy for bikers passing each other in opposite directions to hold their left hands out towards each other with typically two fingers extended. This is a very simple and friendly way to say, "Hey, you've got two tires? I've got two tires! Have an awesome ride, man!"--and unless you or the other rider is using their hand to squeeze the clutch the hand always goes out and there's one or two seconds of beautiful connection with some other soul enjoying the road, fresh air, and occasional bug hitting the face shield.
Here's where I learned that there was (some) truth to what I'd heard about Harley riders. First and foremost it must be said that I wear a red full face halmet and a red Joe Rocket jacket--so I look more like a rocket racer than a cruiser. Given this some harley riders will take one look at my gear and assume, quite correctly so, that I don't own a Harley and they'll completely ignore the hand I extend in friendship. I've had other Harley riders who, knowing that the gear doesn't make the bike, will extend their hand when they can only see the front end of my naked Honda 919--but then jerk it back and avoid eye contact the moment they see the side of my bike which is 100% "crotch rocket". Do people riding Hondas, Kawasakis, Yamahas, Triumphs, or Ducatis ever behave in this fashion? Not that I've seen (although I've heard a few say they won't wave to a Harley rider).
My personal belief: don't play that game, extend your hand to all riders!
That's just one example of a cultural difference within the motorcycle community. As I've explored that world I've seen even more. There are those that love to dirt bike and those that stick to the pavement. There are those that sell their bike every year or so so they can by a new bike every year or so. There are those that like to cruise and those that like to speed (speed=100+mph). And there are those that love crazy stunts like wheelies and stoppies and all that. There are those that swear by safety and taking class after class to gain skills and knowledge and there are those that think they already know it all. There are those that don't want to wear a damn helmet and those that go out only in full leathers, spine protectors, and full faced helmets. There are those addicted to watching races on the Speed network and love to get on the racetrack and those that just ride for the joy of it.
For all the cultural and psychological diversity in the biking community I think they can be narrowed down into two groups: the fair weather biker and the crazy fucks like me.
The first type is the most prevelent. Next time there's a sunny weekend go take a look out on the highways and country roads. It's as if God took his hands and shook the forest and all these two wheeled monkeys fell out of the trees, they're everywhere cruising and screaming and smiling and being cool and having fun and you know what, until you've ridden a bike in 80-90 degree weather on the coast or through the mountains--OMG, that's the only way I can describe it, like God is literally making everything shine with beauty in a way that keeps you out from dawn to sundown, it's absofuckingly amazing!
As for the crazy fucks we're not quite as common but you'll see us anytime of the year. You'll see us riding in the cold, you'll see us riding in the rain, you'll see us riding in the dark or on gravel. You won't know this but we push ourselves. We take on aweful weather because it's a life experience, an experience that gives us not only a sense of accomplishment but also knowledge and confidence. "I survived that hail storm while I was close to home," we say to ourselves, "so I'll be able to survive hail on a three hundred mile day trip across the state." We take on roads that push us out of our comfort zones a little bit, roads that force us to shift up and down, slow down and speed up, more than we're used to. One curve after another we add to our skill sets. We read books and we research and we ask do you know anything that we can learn and we question every suggestion and bit of wisdom that comes our way until we try it ourselves and discover that it either works or does not work. We take the Team Oregon classes, we take the Motorcycle Safety Course, we take the speedway courses. We know there's always something to learn, something just out of sight distance, and we always reach, reach, reach for it. Last but not least we may be crazy but we're not crazy enough to miss out on the fair weather--we like that too!
So if you had to tell me what type you are what would you say? Are you the type to climb the mountain when the escalator's working or are you the type to train until you can reach the summit without breaking a sweat?
March 16th, 2006
I was home alone that day. Lying on the floor with my pillow in the glow of the TV I waited anxiously for a television program to show, a show I'd waited my entire life to see come alive again.
The first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired that night and since then a lot has changed. I've grown facial hair, for instance, and I learned how to build a computer, solve complicated mathmatical equations, and that the world was a rather more fucked up place than I'd been aware of. And now, for the first time in 18 years, with the exception of reruns we are without Star Trek.
18 years! It's so difficult to believe that was 18 years ago, just a flip of the page of life ago I was sitting there watching the original re-runs and going ape-shit when I heard this new show would be coming on--and I'd have been even more excited if I'd known just how good it would be. And that show, The Next Generation, was with me as a trusted companion and friend for years and years, through arguably the "worst" years of my life and giving me a sort of sense of hope about things, you know? And though I've sometimes slammed myself for having "too much" hope there are always times where we need more, where we need to remember to values of leadership, honor, integrity, friendship, and a brighter future.
And so now after several twelve hour days sitting behind a computer console that for better or worse doesn't make all those wonderful whirring and chirping sounds Mr. Spock must have programmed into those groovy computers back on the original Enterprise I formally give my sincere thanks to the first two crews of the U.S.S. Enterprise and everyone that kept those ladies flying. My hat goes off to you. Thank you for the stories, thank you for the imagination, and thanks for giving so many of us hope.
Our little planet needs it.
March 14th, 2006
That's it, taxes are done! It is time to strip off my clothes and run willy nilly around the neighborhood singing a song of joy, a song of freedom, a song of, "I defeated your terribly redesigned User Interface TurboTax, ahahahahaha!"
Somehow in the last two week some of the basic ideas of C# and ASP.NET have sunk into my thick skull and within a few hours last night and today I shot out a very useful forms interface for work. Woohoo!
Vipasanna had a very bad day today, though, and I'm sorry. I'm hoping for a sunny weekend to heal the week's wounds and some good and unexpected news.
I'm half way done with this book! And half way done with that other book! Then I got five more books stacked up that I really want to read! And I didn't get a chance to jog in the last two days so tomorrow I'm going to jog then I'm going to read and then I'm going to sleep and dream sweet dreams, strange dreams, dreams of running around without my clothes, willy nilly and all that!
It's almost 11pm. At 11pm I'm going to make another movie and post it here for you to enjoy. It'll be posted by 12pm so be patient!
My closet is almost clean. It's wonderfully odd how things tend to take care of themselves when you simply take care of them in the here and now.
March 13th, 2006
Today, yes today, finally, and after weeks of looking forward to it, I got to sleep in--without interuption--until noon. And it was absolutely wonderful!
(: Actually, it was yesterday, the 12th, but dates, who needs them! :)
I can't claim I occomplished a whole hell of a lot today. My daughter did (she's on temporary probation) but at best I can say I ran three miles, made my first official cuppa Turkish coffee (thank you Muge!), and took Vipasanna on her first motorcycle ride up Skyline which was somewhat of a bigger challenge than I had imagined given the amount of gravel left over from last week's snow days.
Right now I'm sitting in The Temple after having sat in the hot tub for an hour reading Running the Spiritual Path and I'm transfering the hour of video tape from Skyline onto my computer and after a little muzak mixing will burn it to DVD. Of reading I must admit it sometimes frustrates me how slowly I plug along but when I force my tempo faster I find I'm not savouring the words, savouring my footsteps, savouring the corners, savouring every breath and smell and taste and sight the universe offers me so freely. And true, this morning's--I mean afternoon's--coffee was a little gritty but that was good too, that was love and kindness and friendship from overseas and I'd be in a very sorry state if I wasn't able to taste that.
Tomorrow it's Monday. Tomorrow's back to work. I don't like Mondays. That makes them wonderful in their own right. There's that moment of oh my god I have to get up early (again) and take the lil girl into school followed by the joy of listening to the news followed by the short drive to work followed by that warm cup of morning coffee and that first five or ten minutes sitting back and relaxing and sorting the e-mail. Are there meetings? No meetings? What goals will I put before myself for this week? How will I challenge myself? How will I succeed? How will I "fail" and what will I learn from it, change because of it, enjoy due to the smell of it mixing within the core of my soul?
I like mushrooms and I like onions. I like ideas that pop into my head and excite me like painting some chinese caligraphy on the blinds in Vipasanna's room or kicking my feet up in the papasan and writing a letter or just the excitement watching spring slowly bring forth the roses and the grass and waiting for the gardens out front and out back to explode with life. I like that specific moment when I've been lying in bed for awhile and my body says, "Yes, I'm soooo about to fall asleep and everything feels greeeeeat!" I love having a good hair day. I like it when a random memory from my past jumps into my head, a memory I haven't thought of for ten or twenty or even thirty years, and I like to swallow it up and ask it what it can teach me. I love my motorcycle and I want it to have my baby. I want you to find awareness and wisdom and insight and strength and realize your potential to turn left when you were absolutely convinced it was a right only turn. And I love Reece's Peanut Butter Cups.
Where is my Reece's Peanut Butter Cup?
March 12th, 2006
People go all sorts of places when they want to talk. Some go to their friends, others go to co-workers. Some go to psychiatrists, others go to priests. Some even spend $60 for 60 minutes with a psychic to see what's in the cards. But nobody, nobody, seeks out the insights of a psychic empath.
Okay, that's not exactly true. There is one :)
We all have our separate gifts. A friend has trust, a co-worker has respect. A psychiatrist has a degree on the wall, and a priest has a connection with the Divine. A psychic can do many things depending on their gifts but psychic empaths just see what's in your heart.
It feels pretty great at first, like you're accepted, like finally, finally someone gets you, like you could reach across the abyss created by these flesh and blood bodies and touch and know and feel another soul. Finally you feel special and unique. Finally.
And then you get it, or at least a bigger part of it. You're vulnerable, you can't keep playing the same-old-same-old and expect to get away with it. So you replace talking with story telling after all, that's what you're best at. And when the empath doesn't buy into it you tell your friends, your co-workers, your psychiatrists, your priests, and your psychics, until you're satisfied that you're right and they're wrong.
And those that are ready?
March 9th, 2006
I ran three miles today with only four stops, two to blow my nose (yeah, I know, real sexy), one to tighten my running shoes, and one at the end of the run. Today was the third time I ran three miles without walking a portion of the distance, the second time being this last Tuesday. My goal now is to jog three miles, non-stop, every two to three days and when the days get longer start doing it five days a week.
I continued a little closet cleaning this afternoon. Moved a few things from my room into the closet, moved a few things from the closet to the garage, organized the closet a little better, and then moved a chair into my room so I have a comfy place to read. For now the cats are using it to stare at me from a new local. I am surrounded.
Here's a picture of my old Nokia cell phone. I liked the ringer because it sounds just like it's from The Matrix. This is my first cell phone, I bought it when I experienced a "re-org" after a year and a half at my first job out of college, I bought it so I would be available for phone interviews as I drove all over Oregon and Washington from interview to interview to interview. I hated when I got a call in the car as I used to smoke at the time and it wasn't easy to talk and smoke and drive at the same time, no, it was downright stupid and I prefered to smoke than to talk on the phone and now I prefer to simply use the phone to finalize plans. I was going to donate the phone to cherity but it doesn't work anymore. Goodbye.
I read a paper tonight about genetically modified foods. I think by now we've all eaten so much modified foods that we're genetically modified humans. We will soon all have cancer but not me, I will be bitten by a radioactive genetically modified spider and then I will have super powers. I have super powers. I am a genetically modified crispy fried vegetable monkey.
I have glimpsed the point of no return and patiently await the unfolding.
March 7th, 2006
Listen and listen close. You may think you understand what I'm saying and the fact is, you may understand exactly what I'm trying to tell you, but you may be absolutely wrong.
So how do you decide whether something is "right" or if something is "wrong"? Logic? Experience? A feeling, a hunch, and inkling? What someone else says, what a book says, what the media says? Love, hate, anger, fear, how do you make that decision?
There is another way and it's been around well before Buddha, hell, there were homo-erectus that were doing it: question reality. I know it's cliche but the truth is if you truly question your reality then you're one step closer to freedom than those that do not. And why wouldn't you want to be free? Why wouldn't you want to break out and learn to like all the things you don't like now, appreciate the things you don't appreciate now, accept the things you can't accept now, understand the people you can't understand now, live and experience your life in a whole new way you couldn't even begin to imagine now?
Imagine all the foods you don't like and imagine all the restaurants you could visit and all the meals you could prepare if you discovered what was enjoyable about them! (Doesn't it seem slightly insane that we dislike a food that we could just as easily learn to enjoy?)
Imagine the same thing with music or movies or books or whatever you don't know how to understand or appreciate or admire or enjoy and believe in and turn it around, turn it around, turn yourself around so you can look in either direction. Do you understand the power of this?
Imagine all the people you don't get along with and all of the knowledge and experiences you could have if you could let them be who they are.
Imagine letting yourself be who you are.
March 5th, 2006
I don't know where this weekend went. One moment we were enjoying bingo at my daughter's school and the next I was pulling my hair out trying to find my glasses. I'd left them at a restaurant and knew this but I made the "assumption of competence"--that is I assumed that by calling the restaurant and by going into the restaurant that they would do the obvious, that being, look for my glasses. Finally Vipasanna went in and had them look in one of those not so obvious spots (the waitress' station) and there they were. That was the end of Friday night and the start of Saturday morning.
Friday was a different sort of day. Around noon I learned my friend and co-worker's funeral was to be at 1pm on Saturday in Vancouver, Washington--yet I was supposed to be on I-84 east bound towards Walla Walla at the same time. My first thought was of all the curve balls the universe has been throwing my (our) way lately and instead of resisting I went through a few ideas in my mind including the most obvious one, Vipasanna leaves in her car in the morning, I catch up in the afternoon on the hooligan. Anyway, we've had to push the trip three weekends due to previous plans and an unnanounced flu that hit everyone in the house so we were pretty upset and wanted to make the trip and somehow, after some lively conversation, we worked things out. We all went to the funeral, we all went to Walla Walla, and no one got to ride a motorcycle (mixed smiles and frown all around, so be it).
I still do not know how he died but I now know he died in Beaverton on March 1st. I don't even know the last time I spoke with him but it was most likely on the phone or in the stairway. I wish it had been an open casket funeral, though, I really don't believe he's gone and it's not because I'm hiding or repressing any pain but because I, like so many others, expect to hear his voice and see his face again. Alas, I don't have the same gifts Vipasanna takes for granted--and sometimes I think that's a good thing!
Three more hours on the road, dinner, cake, ice cream, and presents, then we (the adults at least) watched Saw II. I stayed up for a bit afterwards writing a letter and the words just seemed to flow out of my stylus though I sometimes wonder if it's possible to have the wrong words--or the right ones in fact. As Fiona Apple sang, "If there was a better way to go then it would find me." I believe that.
And so on the drive back today we were listening to a Zencast. My favourites are by Gil Fronsdal who has some pretty deep insights to share (though he, like us all, has much to learn). He was speaking about impermanence and I've been thinking that impermanence is an illusion, a layer of the onion. At some point if we're open to learning about the universe we find that nothing is permanent, the only constant is this funny thing we call "change". But while he spoke I realized that accepting impermanence is only one of many layered illusions, there's something deeper than that: absolute permanence. Consistency is an illusion, so is impermanence. Do you understand? Is it worth going into another time?
After arriving home I just had to get on the bike so Vipassanna and I went out to rent a movie and used the opportunity to test our FRS radios on the road. It was absolutely awesome being able to chat with each other on the bikes, I'm looking forward to the weekends and vacations in a way I've never done before!
Anyway, sleepy over here. Many blessings and goodnight.
March 1st, 2006
It should have been a normal day, you know? Get up at 6:45, tumble out of the bunk bed and into a pair of pants and shirt, take the little girl to the early maths class, then get back home, park, close my eyes and listen to NPR for thirty minutes before taking a shower, getting dressed, making my lunch, jumping on the motorcycle, and heading to work. And it would have been a normal day but I had to stay at home to get an expensive package UPS was shipping to me from England so I did everything normally up to and including my shower then I sat at my desk here at home, logged into work, and spent the next several hours working remotely before the doorbells rang and the UPS guy just tossed the package on my porch so I grabbed it, went upstairs, donned my motorcycle gear, and hit the road.
It should have been a normal day, you know? Get my cup of morning coffee, read the news, go through and organize dozens of e-mails, set my goals for the day, and set my nose to the grindstone (today my goal was to complete a mini-project I've been working on for a couple of weeks, as time has allowed). And it would have been a normal day but after my co-workers returned from lunch we received an e-mail informing us that another fellow co-worker, the same age as all of us (early thirties) just died.
And it should be a normal thing, death, as it happens all the time but we're a culture insulated from it, we insulate each other from it, we insulate ourselves. We're not told what's happened to our friends or colleagues but we're given the 800 numbers for grief counselors who keep us from expressing our grief in full technicolour. When we're family we get together and cry on each others shoulders but when we're co-workers we talk uncomfortably then exagerate everything as we bury ourselves in work when we should be stopping and going for a walk or a bike ride or what have you--together.
I can't say much but I can say what this person meant to me. We weren't "close" in the conventional sense but we spent a significant portion of 2005 working closely together on an application project integral to the company. He always had a positive attitude and knew how to fling shit. I have to complain about his constant use of puns, however. And for awhile there I had him coming to Toastmasters.
One day while we were avoiding a company meeting (we had to get some time critical work done) we set a build going and knew it would take about 45 minutes so he suggested we head over to the Hillsboro airport to taxi his Cessna. Never having been in a Cessna before I jumped at the opportunity so we both drove our cars out there, parked at different ends of the airport, then I got in his little plane and he taxied it down the runway and to his rented hanger. He taught me some things about planes I never knew including the different controllers a pilot had to work with during different stages of flight. He offered to take me up in his plane sometime and I was gung-ho over it. I planned to take him up on his offer once the weather got better so I could snap off some good pictures of the trip with my Nikon--but I knew it wasn't going to happen, I just didn't know why.
That's what sucks about being psychic. Sometimes you know something, but you don't know the details. It's as if the universe tells you the details aren't important, after all, you were wondering, "Will I get to go up in his Cessna?" (answer: not gonna happen) not "Is he going to be alive in four months to take me up in his Cessna?"
Important note: A sixth sense implies a sixth blind spot.
And so my co-worker, my friend, the one who was the last stop in an Amazing Race I'd put together for another co-worker, is in my thoughts and now whenever I hear a pun I'm going to think of that bald head and big smile and the trip I took one afternoon in his Cessna from one end of a little airport to the other and I will think every day is a normal day if you are ready to live the life that presents itself.