Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mountains Beyond Mountains

You ride to the first range

You ride to the first range, through the foot hills, along the cracked road in the shimmering heat. The road rises ahead and you crank up the incline. At the crest, at the pass, you see the next range in the blue-gray distance. There's an illusory downhill from the pass, the past, which spurs you forward, but the next foot hills begin to rise and rise, and you can only bend into the effort and keep spinning. These are steeper than the first. 

Down shift, down shift, down shift, it's still too hard. The road switches back and forth to hide the effort but it's not working. Finally, at a crawl, you reach this crest. Of course, in the distance, the third range waits, tallest, blue-grayest, and farthest.

There's an illusory downhill from the pass, the past, which spurs you forward. Along the cracked road, in the shimmering heat, you spin.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ramp it Up, Cyclist!

The cyclist symbol and arrow made it very clear: time to ramp things up

Saw this on my ride into work, and thought, time to ramp things up. Yes, I could go around, but that would be the easy way out. OK, yes, I did go around, this time, but all day I was thinking, ramp it up! Ramp it up!

Different way to ramp things up...

One way that I've been getting in some extra calorie burn on my commute is to add in a nice extra two miles along the canal. Another is to take this little diversion route straight up the bottom of Camelback mountain. Today, to ramp things up, I did both.

Ramped up view of 56th Street, Phoenix, very clear day

Riding up the hill is a fun little spin, and the reason that I have a triple chain ring. Riding back down is like this: whoooooooooshhhh!!! I was feeling a little bit Tuesday today, so I ramped it up 2x. Maybe not like the guy I saw working out by holding himself out sideways from a street sign (what the hell was that?? street gymnastics?) but still, something extra, something unnecessary and fun, something cycling.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Learning to Love the Least

Here I rest, here I stay, here I love, right now, today

I don't think we are born with the ability to love. To cling, to want, to need, to hunger, certainly. But it takes time and life to learn love. Recently, during a seemingly endless meeting and I acknowledge this was an odd setting for this thought, while feeling either bored or irritated with the endless discussion and debate about minute and abstract concepts, and simultaneously beginning to despair that humans could ever argue about such things, I felt convinced that if I could learn to love this (where this refers to the present non-loved and possibly irritating source of the present experience of not being in a state of loving), then this would be whole, memorable, and worthy of the expenditure of the minutes of life measurably slipping away while this was occurring. More, it would be (by the definition of "love") something that I wanted, needed, was sustained and enriched by.

I, one, would have to learn that skill. To learn to love this, the least of the day, the small and plodding moments of work structure, project passages, task completions, small tickmarks on minor ledgers of the sideline conversations of all us unimportant personages of middling economic and social standing, the sparse filings forming ghostly lines above weak magnets, the windblown confetti of the shredded receipts of the political and economic penstrokes of the powerful rustling round unremarkable meeting rooms on the dead on Monday. If I could learn to love this, the least things, that would unlock it. 

The thought that if I would it would mean that I could felt for a little while as if I did. I guess I don't, but this experience of loving the least made me wonder why that might be so, and if it wouldn't be some sort of fulfillment to love this always, even when it may seem like the least.

I was standing in the median photographing my bike sitting against a saguaro amongst the daisies and I wondered what a policeman might think if one saw me, when one rolled by.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Migration Installation Plus the Prettiest Median Strip in America

Installation of "Migration" by Saskia Jorda for Canal Convergence at Scottsdale Waterfront

Those guide wires turn out to have a useful function after all

Bird suspension lines in use

Something burning and traffic chaos cannot undo the beauty of African daisies exploding in the median
Had to throw in a black and white version

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Path to Passionate Balanced Peace of Mind and Heart

Somewhere down some path

I approached her from behind on the path. She was walking directly in the center, impossible for me to pass on either side, so I move the the left and dinged my bell three times. She glanced back over her shoulder, stepped to the right, then made some nasty comment as I spun by.

A sequence of three unkind thoughts warped through my mind of which I was not proud, or glad, or comfortable. Two minutes before, I was just noticing that my pretty new shoes were teaching me a light, easy pedal stroke by reminding me with an ever so slight rubbing on my ankles that I might spin easier with a steadier and more efficient, perhaps easier, foot angle. The exact position may not be easy to describe, but it felt easy, and light to ride like that, and I felt in that moment that this was a path of peace and lightness that had some kind of essential connection with one of the better parts of riding my bike. Then, an unnecessary nasty remark from a stranger, and a string of three unkind notions bouncing around my head in reaction.

Here's my pretty new shoe

They spun away, spun away, spun away fast in the ride, as she with her black heart and resentful lash-out were left far behind. The waters of the canal kept washing downstream, while the lightness of this ankle-sparing foot position that's a bit difficult to articulate but which was so comfortable in practice carried me onwards. 

A simple machine, reclining on the sun-turned faces of the flowers

In the dream that won't stay whole, it's actually true that both the snarky lady walking down the middle of the path and my three unkind reactionary thoughts to her don't exist and never did, and also that they would not evolve to be or emerge from the nothingness into being as the result of some other events, but that instead this exact path along this exact canal would stay a constant place of balance and light, of flow and ease, of peace of mind and heart and motion. 

This exact path along this exact canal (would be that dream which won't stay whole)

But, certainly, by observation, these are not so, not here, not now, not today. I study my feet, clad in my pretty new shoes, and the feeling of the ankle rubbing just ever so slightly on the tops of the shoes if I pedal too hard or with too little graceful coordination while noticing the light feel of ease and balance which ensues if I manage to pedal with that specific form which feels like physics in effect encouraging that dream which won't stay whole to stay whole. I come out there with a passion to just see how far and how still I can go and be, and how this exact path might lead to that exact place, now and here. 

With this mind and heart I ride on, though: that the pure absence of pain of any sort is equivalent to the greatest pleasure, like a vast otherwise empty field of spring flowers bending their faces to the sun and being capable of upholding any amenable physics-enhanced pedaling form you might care to try for miles and miles down this exact path down this exact canal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Flat Tuesday

One tire was harmed in the making of this post

I like cheap and reliable things which give you some warning before they fail. So when my cheap and reliable commuter tire starting making this "flup-flup-flup-flup-flup" sound without actually going flat, I knew it was trying to tell me something. Something like, "Hey, you got your money's worth after umpteen thousand miles of riding back and forth to work, it's time to go ahead and put the new one on."

That's almost a perfect scenario for me. To feel like a nice, reliable thing nicely and reliably notified me that it was time to celebrate a product well used, and move on. Looking at the photo above, the tire is perhaps a bit beyond that point, but nonetheless it soldiered on, and did not actually fail me on my commute. The "flup-flup-flup-flup-flup" sound was that flap of sidewall hitting the brake arm every time around, and for both the flap and the brake arm, I am grateful that they informed me prior to a blowout or some other less pleasant failure mode. That's pure wear you see there, as far as I know: I don't think I ran over something, and I'm sure that the brake pads aren't rubbing the tire. That's just several thousand commuting miles taking its toll. Call it Spring, Summer, Winter, rain and beating sun, just adding up, just breaking down.

Thank you, cheap reliable tire, for performing your lowly but vital task for all those miles, and for letting me know when it was your time to go. Happy Flat Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Instant Poems of Water and Sunlight

Seen on my way home, at 1/2000th of a second

I look at these photos and also these falls, and feel like yeah, that's what I want to say. It's the 1/2000th of a second that got to me, too. A few instants captured, though the moments themselves passed so fast. To be in that, all in one, the sound surrounding and the drops splashing on  my skin. The evening canal commute ride, wheeling around and down here just to take in the sunset of 10 February 2015, which is now over. Caught and colored, and water falls.