Tag Archives: thoughts

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…

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.

51

Further observations of Oklahoma:
The landscape, geography, topography smoothing out, like two ends of a coil pulled farther and farther apart. Slowly. Mile after mile. The hills longer. Gentler. Not so sharp and jagged, but worn like an old, old saw blade.

Hay baled in bales, each rolled up like a single piece of taffy and placed musically throughout their fields, like the pits in the plates of an antique music box, ticking little teeth to play a silent score. The score of the tractor and the farmer, the flycatcher and kingbird, of the changing seasons, and, once, of the sweat and toil that is still practiced in small pockets, remote areas of the world where the people still rely on milk from their cows to survive the winter, and the hay that they grow sustains them in their mountain villages. It is a music that often isn’t heard, and one need no musical instruments to play it, nor a knowledge of theory or scales to understand it. It is the rhythm of a life lived simply, and it is felt in the blood and in the skin.

The ancient windmill erect and lonely in a field of wheat, it’s blades twisted and broken, no longer spinning freely, exuberantly in the rushing wind, but dangling from its axis like the shadow of a Calder mobile—sad, and delicate, and beautiful—or like Nanantatee’s “poor broken crutch of an arm” in H. Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

The butterflies, just the size of a quarter, in chalky shades of yellow, blue and brown,
that dance across the highway, some singly, others in pairs—a duet in four dimensions, turning round and round and round each other, swooping up and down in elegant dress, like some Japanese in his-and-hers best kimonos celebrating the new day like it is a new year.

The little beetles with their glinting, hard carapaces that shine like plate armor, skittering across the road, legs moving like a pianists’s fingers playing a prestissimo.

The traffic on the interstate, which parallels route 66, and seems to sail by in the distance like ships on an horizon.

Clouds at the end of the day which look as if they were applied to the sky with a palette knife—a steely, grey-blue smeared onto an aged, slightly yellowed canvas.

Fields of wheat, golden-blonde and pea-green shimmering under the afternoon sun, every stalk leaning in unison with the wind, beautiful like a head of hair, like the Greek gods, like cracked and ancient pottery, like archaeological sites going on and on seemingly forever like the Euphrates and Tigris rivers through Mesopotamia when giants still strode the land.

A sign advertising astronaut Thomas P. Stafford as from Weatherford, OK,
And another sign advertising Garth Brooks as from Yukon.

50

Wednesday, 05/11

Iron Tree Coffee in El Reno, OK. Not sure I feel like writing. Not sure why I should bother. Nearly 3:30. I feel pressed for time. So often I feel pressed for time.

Small town. Slow town. Quiet town. The coffee here could be better (can’t it always? (most times)), but it’s better than many places, and well appreciated regardless of any complaints I might make. Two high school kids and a middle-schooler come in and don’t order anything. And that’s okay. That’s the type of place it is. That’s the type of town this is. There’s an acoustic singer/songwriter playing over the speakers, and the song is stirring me in melancholy. No one else in this vastness, this cavernous space with its beautiful, coppery, tin ceiling some twelve feet overhead, and bare brickwalls, but for myself, the bored barista, and these three kids. It all lends to the atmosphere of loneliness, and this sad bastard with his guitar and his dismal lyrics echoing through the room…

I ate lunch at a marvelous, little diner called Sid’s: est. 1990. Just a tiny, red building on the corner of Rt. 66 and Choctaw. Charming older lady, probably in her 70’s took my order and showed me pictures on her phone of a festival that occurred in town the past weekend when they cooked an 800 pound hamburger….

The place is famous for its grilled onion burger, so I had to order it. And a 1/4 order of fries, which was plenty large enough. And a tasty milkshake. Everything was delicious, and seated at the low, bar in such friendly, comfortable, snug surroundings I was put into quite the mood of joviality. Maps on the wall behind, stuck in a hundred places, at least, with pushpins of the many visitors’ origins. Freedom Fries, and Freedom Toast on the menu were a humorous, though sad, because I doubt not ironic, touch. It seemed a happy place. Now I’m in this cafe listening to this morose, sad-bastard music, the ennui thick in the air, filling the space. The internet was nice to use. I think I’m going to go now. I have forty more miles to do.

49

Tuesday 05/10

Some days, many days, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing out here. I wonder, “why?”
I don’t wonder, “why?”; that implies much thought. I ask myself, “why?” Or, I shout it.

There is no need for reflection, because I already know. And regardless of any frustrations, of discomfort or pain, I know that the next day I’ll be ready, perhaps even excited, to continue on.

It’s amazing—man’s capacity to forget.

47

Wednesday, 05/03

Woke up to sunlight streaming in through curtains that wouldn’t close. Fell back asleep for a couple hours. Woke up later to hammering and a throwing around of what sounded like weights on the roof. I’m only here because I couldn’t find the home of the woman who invited me to camp on her property. By the time I had cycled an additional eight or nine miles in search of this mysterious land it was dark and nearly nine o’clock. The motel sign shown like a beacon of dollar bills raised high aflame, and drew my exhausted, lazy self to it like a moth. I was photographing for a few short seconds in my room though when the camera battery died, so I guess this was a good thing—I suppose I say that as a way of justification, though I don’t need to.


These places all serve the same continental breakfast: cereals, waffle maker, bad coffee, bad juice, bad biscuits, bad gravy, bad pastries, bad bread, bad…. Here, there are two pieces of sausage left that look just like two little dog turds, like someone’s little chihuahua took a squat right over the pan while no one was looking. The juices in the pitchers taste nothing like their respective labels. Two women are rearranging the breakfast bar. I feel like telling them to stop wasting their time, that rearranging the display won’t make the food or drink palatable, or look more appealing.

While I’m sitting here a huge, dark-skinned girl walks in to fill out an application. She’s wearing black and white basketball shorts, black hi-tops, and a black button-down shirt that doesn’t fit her. I feel pity and sadness for her. Not necessarily because she’s applying to work here, but because she appears so tired and down-trodden, because she likely knows nothing of the wider world, and is likely not well-educated, like she’s living in a world where every move she makes is one made out of desperation because she sees no future for herself, and, worst of all, sees no present and has no idea how to fix this except to get a job, to create an income, to create some semblance of stability in her life, but she’s not even sure if this is right, and this is what most everyone is doing, and yet no one seems to see that stability is an illusion, that we all stride upon shifting, slippery, rocky ground, some perhaps more so than others, but what really matters is that one knows that, and moves forward anyway, for there is no rock face that isn’t crumbling, no plains that aren’t susceptible to drought, no forest fire-retardant, and no lake immune to pollution.

After sitting at a table in a corner, filling out an application, the girl turns it in to the ladies—who are still playing with the breakfast display—and slowly shuffles from the hotel like a despondent elephant too tired to lift its feet, and tied with a heavy, thick rope to a colossal sandstone block which she pulls behind her at the bidding of some cruel, unidentifiable master who stands atop it whip in hand.

44

It is so nice to be in a place.
Simply, to walk
Leisurely.
To look at the greenery,
And to
Hear it innnn the winddddd.

To wonder
How it came to be here, and
Why it is shaped so.

To watch
Sun and shadow pitter-patter
In the grass, playing a game:
Each chase the other around.

The birds’ song
Interrupted only by silence.
And that is no interruption at all,
But the space between the sound and dream.

Where am I?
Where is this place?

Here. Only here
The miracle of Being may be observed
Anywhere
And Anywhere may be everywhere.
And within Everywhere is a Somewhere.
And Somewhere may be anywhere.
And within any Where is a Here.

40

Watching the treetops wave in the wind, through a window, from inside the cafe. They look like anemones rooted to rocks and corals deep in the ocean, their frondsy, tentacular limbs moved by its currents and the hard pull of its waves. A bit like a ballet dancer spinning, dancing, sweeping her way across stage.

The world out there is more alive than anybody knows or suspects or even cares to think. They’re all talking to each other—a soft buzz in between the rustling that is carried by the wind. We are all being watched and there is a note of melancholy in the air. “Who will go down next, and when?” This waving in the wind, the softly wooshing to and fro is the celebration of now, of this moment so alive, but I see some of them with white flags claimed in their branches. They want no more death, no more destruction. “Throw down your arms!,” they say. “We want no more pain! Only peace!,” they say. And they can no more defend themselves, or uproot themselves from their homes, than anyone else grown up surrounded by family. They have no choice but to stay put, rooted in place, pleading for peace, pleading for an end to this senseless destruction. “Please,” they say. “Please.” And they weep in the knowing that it will never end.