Tag Archives: reflections

Version 0.26 A Reminiscence

01-23-19

I’ve recently been watching old MTV 120 Minutes videos on YouTube, and just last night watched their 10th Anniversary show which was advertised as a “best of”. I’d argue it was not. But it was hosted by Henry Rollins. Very cool. Very sort of strange. And you can bet there was a song performed by his band.

I woke up this morning to the song that Nirvana performed, noisily working its way around my brain, and lying in bed allowed myself nostalgically to be transported back to middle school, when I first heard the music and saw the t-shirts of such bands as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Helmet, etc. I wanted to go back to that time and observe myself and others around me and relive that period of my life again, but as a sort of third-party. I wanted an experience deeper than my memories. I wanted to stand out on the corner on a frosty morning across the from the house I grew up in while waiting for the school bus to pick the group of us up. I wanted to sit in the never-warm-enough bus on the too-firm seats that were a bit like sitting on a pice of styrofoam and which sometimes had rips and tears in the green, pebbled vinyl that wrapped the yellow “cushion” as we drove around my neighborhood picking up still more groups of kids or the occasional one standing alone, or perhaps with this mother (though probably not in middle school), before bouncing our way eventually to school. There is one boy who I associate most closely with these memories of grunge and the route which our bus would take. I don’t remember his name, and I only think my memories of him are so strong because of the peculiar place where he lived, which was a smallish house with a dirt and gravel drive on Ritchie Highway—a busy, extremely so nowadays, road which runs from Annapolis to Brooklyn Park. The bus would drive all this way and do a U-turn to get to this boy’s home, seemingly so out-of-the-way. He had long, stringy, often dirty and oily looking blonde hair, a la Kurt Cobain, and wore the standard grunge uniform day in and day out: Airwalks or Vans, baggy jeans or long shorts, a t-shirt of some sort of 90’s alt rock band (Nirvana, Pearl Jam et.al.), and a plaid flannel left unbuttoned over that. To be sure, there were plenty of other kids dressed the same, but the remoteness of his location in this single solitary home on the side of a busy highway, and the fact that it was he and he alone who got on and off the bus there is what makes him such a memorable character to me.

Best or Worst?

I’m still wrapping things up, or, rather, pulling things apart and putting them back together slightly differently. Until that is over I’m still in Annapolis. Should be soon that I leave though. In the meantime the few of you that read this blog can read this passage (not really a passage because it’s not of anything, but I’m considering it a passage of this blog so I can use the term because I like it (and I realize I didn’t have to justify that, but I thought I may, because because)) that I composed some months ago when more and more of the days were rising further and further from their burial chambers, shaking off dark clods of dirt from their brightly shining armor, sword tips piercing upward through the soil alongside new grass and flower blossoms, and voices ringing out singing of warmth and food and sex and life and triumph over the night; and masticate on it, or laugh at me, or do whatever seizes you in the moment of consumption.

Sun dapples all. Splatters the world in colors lobbed through the canopy of leaves above me. I think to myself “to do one’s best is the highest aim of humankind.” But what is one’s best? And when does one know when that effort has been made?

The most wondrous, magical, little fly with a pointed tail and a pale band around its abdomen explores the rim of my coffee mug, and I wonder if it is doing its best. It seems to be getting on just fine regardless. Maybe no one has control over their best or worst. Perhaps I should give up all thought on that and live like this fly. Perhaps I already am—perhaps we all are—if only the thought would be let go, to shatter into dust, permitting me more freely to live more simply and easily like this extraordinary creature.

My Pedals may not be Turning (yet), but my Mind Certainly Is

I am still ordering things for my bike and my bike trip. I am still sorting out what app(s) I may use for routing and/or recording my trip. I am still designing a route (though that is something that can and will be a semi-daily task). I am still meeting with friends and family before I leave; just this morning I met with a good friend and inspiration over coffee (everything over coffee). Now I am having more coffee, more food, and listing off  things to take care of before I leave (note to self: do actually make a list).

My framebag from Rockgeist arrived a few days ago. It was the last necessary item for my bike that I thought I would need, but alas, that is not the case because the front rack I had ordered to support my handlebar bag that isn’t supposed to need a support doesn’t fit my fork. (In case you’re wondering, there is nothing wrong with my bar bag. There simply isn’t enough space between the top of the front tire and the handlebars for the bag to hang without needing a support. I knew this was a possibility when I purchased, but hoped otherwise.) I’ve just ordered one that will, after messaging Rodeo Adventure Labs for a recommendation. I suspect that will get here Monday. None of this is ideal. But what is ideal, anyway? Are having all of our heart’s wants and desires being fulfilled in a way we want and at our moment’s notice ideal? What if a current moment being disruptive or unwanted yields great joy in the future? Or, what if so insistent on forcing one’s notion of an ideal, i.e., a desire, into RIGHT NOW one unwittingly destroys a more satisfying moment in the future? Again, this begs the question of “what is ideal?” Is it ideal for me to leave on Sunday, or Wednesday? Is there a qualitative difference between the two? I suppose I won’t know until I go, but even then there is no way for me to compare the two scenarios. I wanted to leave a week and a half ago. I’m still here. I say it’s not ideal, but is it not ideal just because it’s not what I wanted (or thought that I wanted)?

“Ideal” is not synonymous with “want” or “desire” but I’d bet most people commonly equate the two. This can make for a lot of unnecessary stress in one’s life that is otherwise avoidable. According to the dictionary app on my Mac “ideal” is defined as “satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable.” But even that is subject to much interpretation as is evident in the definition by the words “one’s conception.” What is most suitable for a given situation? Well, different people will likely define that differently. And we can forget about the idea of perfection since it’s simply unattainable (because it doesn’t actually exist, or because it’s so lofty a goal that no human being is capable of reaching to those heights?). Too, what if a person’s goals are unhealthy or crooked? Say I want to be happy, and I have a sweet tooth so that my happiness has a strong correlation with my sugar intake. Well then, eating a dozen donuts a day is an ideal solution to satisfying that sugar craving, and thus my happiness. But, is that really an ideal avenue to happiness? I think not (keep in mind I’m simplifying a complex thing in order to make a point and/or create an argument). Everyone at this point should be familiar with the consequences of too great a sugar intake (potential to develop diabetes, weight gain, rotten teeth, etc.), so, if the goal, to be happy by satisfying my sweet tooth, is itself not ideal, then are the ideal means of reaching that goal really ideal? There’s an old Chinese proverb: “If the wrong man uses the right means, then the right means work in the wrong way.” So, in this case, if the ideal means are used to achieve the wrong goal, then the ideal means work in the wrong way.

Anyway, I’m currently unemployed, so I’m not trying to spend much money since I’m not actually on the road yet. But, my unemployment just means more time to get more important things done. More important than making money? But what could be more important than that? Perhaps that’s a blog post for another day…

New Bicycle, New Preparations, New Journey, New Life

Nearly two years have passed, twenty-three months to be exact, since I returned from my last bicycle adventure which turned into a motor vehicle adventure, and I am at last preparing for something new.

I like the idea of the new, of newness. I like new things, new people(s), new places, new experiences, new sensations—sights, sounds, smells, flavors, textures. Newness means also freshness. It is the opposite of old or stale. It also implies difference, but this isn’t always the case as newness is often times simply a matter of perception. Is it easy to perceive the same (or the old) as new, as fresh? No, not always, not often, but neither is it impossible. It takes some work, and it takes a quiet, at-ease mind: something too regularly out of reach I think for most people (or so they might think), especially these days with the constant stimulus of a cellphone or tablet in our hand or pocket. To find newness in the old requires that one step back from all the noise, and the more often the better, and relax,  not by reading a book or watching the telly (these are the very things we’re trying to get away from), but by simply sitting still and breathing. Maybe closing one’s eyes if that helps, and then reopening them and having a look around. Better to do this outside at a park or elsewhere in a mostly natural environment, and better still a place of solitude or near-solitude (the quiet nod of hello to another fellow finding his/her own sense of newness can obviously be included in one’s own discoveries). This doesn’t have to take a long time. Ten or fifteen minutes can be a surprisingly invigorating refresher, but I often find it easy to lose track of time and thirty minutes or more will pass easily, as though in fact it hadn’t and you were only in that moment…. But when you look at your watch….

I don’t provide myself the opportunity often enough for this. THERE IS SO MUCH IN THE WORLD SO EASILY WITHIN REACH NOW. Is there really though? I mean it’s certainly near effortless to get exposure to “so much in the world” nowadays, but how authentic is that relative to the greater sensorial experience of going out and doing, of, say, visiting the pyramids of Egypt rather than looking at a picture or video? Anyway, the whole point of this is sort of to say that I’m struggling to find the new in Annapolis, and maybe Annapolis is not for me (I’ve lived in and around it my whole life after all), or maybe I just need to get away for a while. Who knows? Are either of these ideas wrong? Certainly not. They just are. They’re ideas. The truth will be discovered in time.

Originally I thought I was to leave here a year ago. However, one’s thinking about what the future may be is frequently not how that future, then the present, now the past actually becomes. In my case, a year ago I was not in a great hurry to leave, and was quite content, and seeing things new. I also made a great discovery, that being Bitcoin and the rest of the world of blockchain technology, last August and got sucked down that rabbit hole. I believe this will pay off for me, and countless others whether they may know it or not, in a few years time (or perhaps sooner, or perhaps later). At any rate, the stars seem to be aligning (as the saying goes) for an imminent departure now. A bit later in the season than I would prefer as largely I want to be places warm and sunny, but this life is doing the way this life is doing. I’m quite content.

So, yes. This newest blog post of mine has gone on much longer than I anticipated, and in directions I didn’t quite anticipate. The key in all things is not so much to fight it, but to let it flow in the way it wants.  There is a channel already provided. One only has to direct “it” into the channel, and not try to dam the channel up or redirect the flow or whatever other silly things humans like to do to pretend they’re in control. The ideal then, really, is to be simultaneously the funnel and the thing being funneled. To make the decision and also to allow the decision to be made for you.

More updates soon!

October 23, 2016, Around Santa Maria, CA

California and her rolling hills. Eternally rolling along the 101. Trees sprouting from these hills like spores on a mold. A prehistoric landscape untouched by the hand of man. I see some fences of course. A cow here and there. But otherwise it’s nature, nature in its unaltered original form. Some of the tops of the hills and those in the distance are veiled, obscured in a mist: mere soft silhouettes. Appropriate, because I’m looking far, far into the past…

And I think back to yesterday along Big Sur. About people trying to capture moments and memories with a camera (like clawing at the air, trying to grab it, grasp it, hold it in one’s arms), and watching while driving along the highway, watching the waves hammering continuously against the rock walls, and after we go to bed at night this living world continuing to hammer against these rock walls which will continue to deny it, absorbing blow after blow. And this goes on eternally. After we sleep. After our deepest of sleeps.

California is a magic place. What must settlers have felt when they first arrived here to this bounty? This impossible world where it is spring and summer year round. It is very much an Eden, like that from which Adam and Eve were tossed out I imagine. And here I am, rediscoverying this lost land buried in antiquity and legend. What right do I have to be here?, for surely I am no better than Adam or Eve (though I might have wisdom enough not to take advice from a serpent or snake, unless he was a very tricky and persuasive one, even if I am in the habit of trusting easily).

These hills remind me of bread dough a little bit: in their smoothness very much uniform. Like agglomerations of soil covered with a smooth, even carpet of grass, like a table cloth thrown over a dining table, then stuck with trees like a pin-cushion.

October 22, 2016, Big Sur

Driving Route 1, Big Sur. Pinned into the hillside to the right and the left of me, like the bristles of a hairbrush, are thousands of frondsy things, like cattails wafting in the wind; and the sun slowly sinking lower and lower, lower and lower to the pacific, glowing like a pearl, softly, embedded amongst gauzy clouds that drift in the sky like gossamer curtains lifted on a breeze. And around the bend of the road the shoreline rocky and rugged, like a brass knuckled fist limned in white, the water crashing up against it relentlessly, splashing hard and high, seafoam flying like spittle.

Signs for Vista Point. Cars and RVs parked, and people standing on the edge with cameras in their hands pressed to their faces, or their faces peering into a smart-phone taking pictures to commemorate a moment.  THE moment.

It’s difficult to deny oneself the pleasure of creating and holding on to memories like these (and really, why should one?). But the sun is dropping lower and lower. [These frondsy things are wonder incarnate.] The waves are always crashing against the rocks. The rocks are always there, pummeled by the waves. At times their jaggedness cloaked in secrecy, enveloped by a thick fog; other times poignant, acute, sharp enough to draw blood.

What can a photograph say? What feelings and emotions might one dredge up a year or more in the future?  Do these people grasp the magnitude of what they are seeing? Do even I with my words and poetic sentiment have an inkling? Are we not all headed into a night to which we will succumb? And yet this night comes repeatedly over the Earth, but always she experiences a morning, a new sun, a bright day, a warm wind….

What is There to Say?

Well, it’s been quite a long time since my last post (I tried to drag them out for as long as possible) and an even longer time since the end of my trip around parts of the southern United States (and Colorado, Utah, California). Once I made it to the end of my journal, that was it. To be truthful I was hardly motivated to post the last several journal entries. I felt that once the trip ended, and in particular the cycling portion (with some exceptions), there was little point in writing or recording anything. Yet just the same, I saw the value in it, and so continued on, vacillating all the while.

I want to pick up the writing thing again, but I don’t know what that will entail, what topics I might discuss. The title of this blog has changed to reflect its stronger ties to myself as a photographer, rather than just a cycle touring blog, but truth be told I haven’t been photographing much over the last several months (though prior to that I had been fairly regularly), so there isn’t much in the realm of my own photography to munch on. But perhaps I may revisit some of those photographs, post some here along with my thoughts on photographing Annapolis (and Fort Lauderdale and NYC), and photography and art in general. I’m really hoping I’m able to find the time to fit it into my schedule; even taking the time to type all this is a minor miracle in itself, but it feels productive, and I’m enjoying it. Ultimately, hope is useless. I either will find the time, or I won’t. There is no point in hoping that I do something.

Additionally, I’ve written some short poems here and there, and I believe I have some recordings that I made over my iPhone while traveling that I have not yet transcribed, so perhaps that is another source of material for this blog.

Vague future plans for the coming months. Something international I’m thinking, but nebulous it all is still.

90 – Streaking Through Tennessee

Seen in Tennessee while driving forever the interstate, where bridges take one directly over the River Styx so that one doesn’t have to worry about potentially falling out of the boat which good Charon directs to and fro, back and forth across it’s mirrored surface (this is a very poor analogy because really it’s the interstate that is hell (or Hades) and not any destination that one might find at the end of, so really it’s the threshold crossed when getting into my car that is the figurative Styx, and not any physical feature of the environment itself):

bunches of orange and red, and burnt-orange, a brown, and a whole range of shades in between, some duller, some brighter mounded up as far as the eye can see, like great piles raked together, and the autumn-blue sky (because it is such a distinctive blue) complementing; fields and hills of golden-yellow grass, burnished and bronzey, anywhere there isn’t a forest or highway or gas station or sky. The colors are the colors of a life tempered in fire—they run in the blood. If you make it through winter you’re a survivor, you’ve run the gamut, and you can paint a picture, or many pictures, of all these experiences, and you can write about them and go to sleep with a contented mind knowing what you accomplished, and then maybe you will publish them in a blog, and maybe some people will read about them, or maybe no one will, but it won’t make much of a difference to you one way or the other because you were alive then to experience all that, and you’re a new you, alive now to new experiences, or reliving old experiences and perhaps viewing them in new ways because you’re a new person continually becoming a new person experiencing new things and experiencing old things in new ways (or is that just the supposed old things when recalled to mind are new in that instant?)

89 – Some Cheerio!

November 2016
Arkansas is a magnificent state, broad with mountains and deciduous forests, whose trees are now loosing their leaves, or beginning to, this time of year, and the whole breadth and depth of the place glowing like a departing sun—orange, red, yellow, brown—a rich nugget of gold pulled from the loamy soil, and the highway cutting through them Ozarks like a river flashing silver and gold, sunlight and fish scales in a meadow.

It all came to an end as the sun came to a set, as the mountains and hills sloped down to the flat of the Mississippi River delta, eventually to the river itself and that gritty Tennessee city, Memphis sparkling with come-hithers, glinting with diamonds strung on a necklace beneath a face full of broken teeth.

Memphis: the home of William Eggleston.

88 – Days Gone By (From Santa Fe to Tulsa)

11/16

Ohh, it has been so long since the last time I journaled. A week spent in Santa Fe; and nothing. Then three days of little but eat, sleep, drive, over, and over, and over. To be fair, nothing of note occurred while in Santa Fe. My sole achievement being an eleven mile run to the top of Atalaya and back. Also, slacklined with a friend, Jacob, and made curtains (yet to be used) with Matt for my Outback. Began drawing. Ended drawing. I felt very much at home. Knowing Matt and Jacob would make it very easy to move there, but I don’t think it will happen.

Oh!, I nearly forgot about the contra dance I attended at St. John’s. Jacob organized it and persuaded me to attend despite my misgivings. I’m an embarrassment when it comes to any sort of organized dancing. The contra proved no different (though I did have some experience from years past square dancing with my ex). Gratefully, many others were inexperienced as well, and some less coordinated than I. Once the steps are learnt it’s not so bad, but the learning experience is fraught with confusion, near-calamities, and befuddled faces. I’m much too self conscious for my own good. Fun was had I think by all, however! And, ahh!, the beautiful redhead who I danced with at junctures! An expert, no doubt! Slender and willowy as a grass blade, with the skin and fine, well-sculpted features of a marble bust. Impeccable! And with a confidence to match!


 
Leaving Santa Fe I drove straight on to Amarillo where I stopped for an espresso at Evocation, then onward to Palo Duro Canyon where I camped.

I passed through the gates and took a short, winding drive around the rim before charging down the steep decent to the canyon floor where the campsites are. During all of this the sun had only just dissolved into the horizon (it was a red disc slowly sinking into distant desert sands when I arrived at the entrance to the park), and all around me the landscape was pitched into the blue-black of twilight.

Having pitched my tent on a clean, grassy spot along the edge of some vegetation—low trees and chaparral—I proceeded to cook my dinner to the quiet orchestrations of insects.

Through all the night was the velvet hooting of owls, and the howl and shriek of coyotes. The moon bright as a billiard ball—a spotlight glancing off its surface. An enormous eye so far away that despite its great speed in circling the earth appears to be floating overhead, fixed in place.

Woke up in the morning to a blinding, impenetrable sun creeping over the canyon rim, two deer nibbling their way across the campground, birds fluttering from shrub to shrub to tree—Redstart, Black-Crested Titmouse, Warblers—a roadrunner meandering in its start-and-stop way, the air alive with bird song and taut, blazing sunlight. Everything shimmering and weightless, carried on wings.

After taking an age to make a cup of coffee and get packed up, I drove up and out of the canyon, back towards Amarillo and the interstate, stopping on a few occasions to take photos of the western panhandle’s flat earth, vanishing point perspective roads, and a tumbledown house surrounded by an oasis of dead trees. The western portion of the panhandle is flat and lifeless (Palo Duro Canyon being a tremendous exception); fascinating in its own right, like, say, the way the lunar landscape is fascinating. The panhandle’s eastern half abounds with small canyons and rolling hills—vastly different, and far more interesting. One might even say, awe inspiring. This continues into Oklahoma, minus the canyons and awe inspiring, though the landscape does continue its trajectory of increasingly green lushness (I will have to wait until Arkansas until the term “lush” truly becomes apt though).

Stopped in Clinton to visit a couple who have recently moved their coffee business from the interior of an Airstream trailer to an actual brick and mortar shop front that they renovated themselves.

From Clinton to Tulsa where I stayed with another wonderful WarmShowers host who I’ve stayed in touch with via Facebook.