In this installment I’ll try and fail again to summarize what I’ve been up to for the last month. There’s too much to pack into one post. It seems the more I work on my book, and read other books, the more I realize that the art of writing is as much about what gets left in as what gets taken out. In his intriguing novel John Woman, Walter Mosley touches on this idea by having his eponymous protagonist (a professor with a checkered past and a troubled present), explore the deconstruction of history. His professor believes many things about his field, the main one as I understand it so far, is that it is not absolute. We are constantly creating history, our own and the larger world’s, Professor Woman teaches his students.
Thus, our perception of what happened as we’re taught (by the predominantly white men who wrote it) is necessarily incomplete. There is no one set of facts about what really happened, and it is ultimately unknowable, because it is subject to the interpretation of the participants, who have wildly different experiences based on culture, intelligence, viewpoint, power dynamics, and more. We simply cannot know it all, and that is both terrifying and liberating. Like the soap opera says, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “And so it goes.” Sting sang, “History will teach us nothing.”
So, what do I tell you? I suppose the usual will have to suffice: some data, some photos, some thoughts. The first being I went to storage and took the grips and extenders off the carcass of dearly departed Sookie, the Fuji Silhouette that got a cracked frame I couldn’t ride anymore, and put those on Sonnie, the GT Arette. Sophie the Fairdale is still sadly long gone and likely never coming back after being stolen eight months and a day ago. So it’s just Sonnie and moi.
Of this summer’s serious heat wave I wrote about last month (8/8/2022: Biking While the Heat Is On in Austin. Since then, it’s finally rained a number of times, so we’ve been downgraded to the second hottest summer in 125 years of weather recordkeeping. It’s still warm, but fortunately, autumn is around the corner. With the forced slow-down in my riding, I only just recently passed 3,000 miles for the year by bicycle. I realized that I’m not going to meet my annual goal of 100 miles a week. But now that it’s cooler, and work has moved inside, I’ve stepped things up a notch to try to have a 500-mile month. If I can have one such month, another three at that level shouldn’t be that big a deal, given I’ve done a lot more. Plus, my annual birthday ride is coming up, so I need to build up to be able to put in a relatively long day in the saddle. As long as I manage my injuries and energy level, I should be okay. Biking daily for almost three years might have something to do with it, but I’m used to it so I’d say probably not much. It’s just a matter whether I’ve had my nappy. Who doesn’t love a good afternoon lay-down? A Dude sure does.
In other areas, I continue my daily walking, yoga-ing, reading, writing, fluting, foam rolling, flour eschewing, and salad eating. I’ve let go of the five minutes of meditation after yoga and even the sivasana pose, because the former is just not very productive or satisfying, and the latter well, I’m often taking a long time lying on my back so am feeling rested afterward. However, I should probably add both back in. “Should is shit,” though, a college classmate told me long ago. Speaking of college, one of my best mates from those days stopped by on a cross-country tour for a whole week. That was a rare treat, given we hadn’t seen each other since a subsection of our small class had a reunion in California over a decade ago. He’s a bit camera shy, though.
But in some ways, I’m failing. I’ve heard it best to “fail fast,” or to “fail forward.” In other words, try something, but if it doesn’t work out, move on to something else. As a fathlete, I’m losing the battle of the bulge (which checks out since I’m not a big fan of war as a way to solve problems). In starting a business, I’m not progressing as I like. In adapting some better healthy habits, will power isn’t enough. I’ve come to believe (somewhat) as my college buddy does, that while we have an element of free will, we are largely inhibited by genetics, culture, experience, and even fate. We are part of history, and also we create it at the microcosmic level through the people we meet and ipmact through our actions. Looked at in a better light, long-time political prisoner, vanquisher of apartheid in South Africa, and later President Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win, or I learn.” Positive thinking is useful to a point.
Positive psychology is appealing because it tells us we can just change our mind, do some affirmations, “just get over ourselves,” everything will be alright. But positivity to the exclusion of reality is simply toxic. We’re living in a time of very real and visible effects of climate change; multiple illegal and horrible wars; political division such as the reduction in rights like cancelling 50 years of women’s health protection in Roe v. Wade; outright lies about election integrity (no Trump, you’re not President anymore and you’re not above the law); economic turmoil such as inflation and likely recession; ongoing poverty and misery; global pandemic(s) and the isolation resulting from technological advances like working from home; and plenty of other things that cause mental and emotional strain at the societal, communal, and person levels.
In under six months time, I myself will be forcibly displaced into an insanely overpriced rental market when the new owners demolish this housing I’m in, which could actually lead to me becoming homeless. We’re all aging, and in fact, COVID has reduced life expectancy of Texans by two years. All that stuff is super stressful. Other models show that changing ourselves — and history — is a tad bit more complicated and challenging than just wishful thinking. That’s not to say we shouldn’t try, or we should give up too soon. “Should is shit,” remember? We can maybe just try to keep one foot on the ground if our heads are in the clouds.
I hope you enjoyed some photos from the month, and my ramblings, comprising a tiny slice of my history. I’ll keep riding and writing mine (mostly by re-re-re-revising my book), and I trust you’ll do the same in your tiny corner of the universe. I’d like to update this post further in the next few days, but probably won’t. Chalk it up to the lack of time due to work, biking (aka T.ime I.n T.he S.addle), and my necessary siestas. Unlike what the Rolling Stones told us in song,“Ti-i-i-ime / is on our side.” I would disagree and say the opposite is true, especially with global warming. But who am I to tell anyone else their history? I’m just A Dude. But as The Dude said in Big Lebowski, “Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
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