I do not have the time to develop the ideas in this post to the degree they need to be. In a few hours Phil will be here and I will have to focus my attention elsewhere. If, as so many of you have suggested, I do write a book the themes here will be much better developed and will form the basis of the book.
I've been travelling for three days across epic flat under challenging skies all the while waiting for the storms to return. Thinking about perception. No, thinking about feelings behind perceptions that form the basis of what we think they mean.
I now sit in a motel in a small town of Ignace, Ontario, my bike's exhaust system broken. The #1 cylinder header pipe has completely split free. The bike now sounds like some kind of sick Harley with a nasty sputter.
Unfortunately, the machine cannot be ridden in this shape. Insufficient back pressure from the break will cause me to burn up the #1 cylinder long before I reach home.
Ignace is a small little town in the middle of nowhere. There are no auto parts stores here. The nearest large town, Thunder Bay, is 150 miles away and I fear running the motor that long to get there. I don't know at what point the exhaust broke. It may all already be a moot point.
I had to ride quite a few more miles than I was planning. I had realized some things, come up with what I wanted to say and wanted to write. I had really wanted to write, but all motels were booked solid for hundreds of miles. I eventually made it to Ignace, late, found a tavern that was open even later, grabbed a bite to eat and tried to sleep, but was completely unable to. The phone rang early. It was Phil. He had already gotten exhaust header tape, which is not available where I am, and other supplies and was offering to ride all the way out here. Half asleep I was stunned once again. "This is so messing with my world view.", I thought.
I did some calling around and tried to solve the problem myself. I checked with a towing company and a small autoparts store. Nothing.
Breaking Artificial Rules, since he's going so very far out of his way and it's going to be a rough ride for him under unpleasant circumstances, I agreed to the help.
As I write he's fighting holiday traffic, I believe in the rain, and making his way here. It'll take him till close to midnight to get here. Damn. I've gotten him a room here at the hotel and will try to get some food and drink for him shortly.
A couple of days ago, after I had been out in the epic flat dodging storms and chasing rainbows, doing more thinking, I got up to leave. The bugs out there are really something to behold.
I had cleaned the face shield less than 20 minutes before finding the motel. They were just awful, but I didn't mind. There were also these larger bugs, monster bugs, that would flit by. Sometimes they would hit and when they hit you could feel it through the armor. It was late and dark. Dragon Flies? Locusts? Alien Baby Snatchers?
I had slept later than I had intended. I packed up all my gear in the hot July sun, the temperatures here approaching 90, got on the bike and attempted to start it.
The electrical gremlin recurred. Firing on only two cylinders and the tachometer reading 0, the bike sounded ill and would hardly run. This has happened before. I shut the bike off, let it sit and tried to restart it.
After many attempts including letting it sickly idle for 15 minutes I began to fear I wasn't going to be able to meet Phil. It wasn't going away. I thought to back before this trip and the calm I experienced on Atigen Pass and in other places along this Journey and wondered why I felt so differently now.
I can remember thinking that if this had happened Before, I would have been completely stressed out about it. I would have felt responsible, ill even, at the prospect of another failure.
But today, under this heat, I was calm. "If I can't fix it, I'll just have to tell Phil. It is what it is.", not realizing yet how different this feeling, this calm, was.
Anderwerks had given me some suggestions on how to diagnose the problem. The first suspect was the coils, which provide the spark to the spark plugs. There are four exhaust pipes, one from each cylinder. One way to figure out which coil it might be is to run the bike shortly and see which pipes are hot. 2 and 3 were hot. 1 and 4 were not. 1 and 4 are on the same coil, so maybe the coil is bad.
They had suggested then, if that was the case, to swap the coils to see if the problem followed the coil. If I swapped the coils, restarted the bike and the other cylinders ran then it would be the coil and I would know what parts I had to have shipped.
I had forgotten what a job it is to remove and replace the coils. As I unpacked my gear, pulled off the bags and side covers I noticed something on the ground. "Funny, I didn't think I was around DC", I chuckled.
The little gold shiny thing in the center is a bullet.
I had already checked out of the room. The cleaning lady, more like cleaning girl actually, came by to fix up the room. She left the door open for me so I could run in and drink water. It was hot and I was sweating profusely baking in the hot sun. "Parking lot bad. Garage very good. I envy my past self, I really do.", I thought as I roasted thinking how fortunate my past self had been.
Because one bolt holding the coils in at the top is too long to remove without removing the battery, I had to remove the battery, which of course sits under the fuel injection computer which can't be removed unless you remove the ABS computer which can't be removed unless you remove the seat and so forth ...
I pulled out the coils and swapped the wires. It was now maybe an hour and a half later. But I was not stressed. I was not rushed. I was not expectant or angry. I was just hot and uncomfortable wondering how long I would last out here in the heat before I had to find shelter.
I put the coils back and and reassembled the minimum I needed to to finish the experiment.
The problem did not follow the coils. "Good information. I know it's not the coils now.", I thought thinking that some time ago I might have thrown my hands up thinking that this was hopeless, stressing endlessly about implication and what it meant about who I was. But not on this day.
"There are two other possibilities. The ignition control module or the pickup sensors.", Anderwerks had told me if I had gotten to this point.
The ignition control module is located on the side of the battery box next to the coils. It has a large connector that goes to it. At Anderwerks we had tugged on it and pushed it in and but it didn't budge being firmly connected to it's socket. I looked at the cable again very calmly, not rushed, just observing when I noticed that it seemed kinked more than usual. I tugged on it in a slightly different direction and noticed that the connector moved. It had not been as firmly connected as we had assumed. I pushed the connector back in further and started the bike.
It immediately started and ran fine.
This has been a recurring problem for as long as I have owned the bike. 18 years. What an interesting analogy, letting go of Artificial Thoughts, Constraints and Rules to focus on this moment after the nightmare and to be able to, as a result of what I have learned on this trip, easily solve a problem whose solution has eluded me all these years. "Interesting.", I can remember hearing her say.
I have struggled with the concept of Artificial Rules, Thoughts and Constraints. "Those analogies don't really capture what I think, see or feel.", I remembered thinking.
I packed up the bike my leathers completely soaked through with sweat. I got some more water and headed back out onto the road.
The sun was shining. There were no storms to be seen anywhere. It was hot but beautiful. The breeze felt good. The road was straight. Endlessly straight and it was flat, flatter than Kanas. It gave me much needed time to think.
"What a nice and appropriate ritual separation from the ecstacy of riding all those mountain roads. I have the time to reflect, to maybe, just maybe, learn something from my journey so far and all the improbable things that have happened.", I would think as I rode.
There were pretty flowers.
"He's so sensitive.", I chuckled. "Yes, I guess I am and I'll kick your ass if you say otherwise!"
At one point I approached what I thought at first was snow, which didn't make any sense.
It was a pile of some salt mineral on a field of salt next to an evaporating lake.
Eventually, after hundreds of miles, a thunderhead loomed in the distance looking like a mushroom cloud.
But it was far away yet. I was sure to get rained on but by the time I approached it had dissipated.
It's amazingly flat out here.
Such a brutal contrast from the mountains. "I love the mountains. They are good for my soul.", I found myself thinking out of character. I never really consider what's good for me, what makes me feel better or worse. I just endure whatever and I'm very good at it.
I stopped to get gas. I haven't mentioned it before but it's been happening more frequently. There have been quite a number of gas stations up here that haven't had any gas. In this particular large town most gas stations didn't have gas.
I found a station that was open, got gas and some water. Chatted a few moments with a cruiser rider about his trip west and then headed back onto the road content to just make miles and think.
As I rode I kept thinking back to places and events over the mountains. I was riding East but wanting it to be West. Was it that I wanted to head West? Or was it that I so didn't want to be riding East? It was probably a combination of both. "Why?", I wondered.
I crossed the border into Manitoba. I do not like Manitoba.
I hadn't really talked to many people. There are few riders out here. This epic flat is not a place where you ever see Adventure Riders, they preferring other routes across. I thought about symbols. How easy it was, for the very first time, to meet so many people and how affected I've been by all I've met.
I've been open out here in a way I don't think I've ever been, but it has felt good. It has felt like Me, a Me I have not known. I think it's the Western Canadians that really opened my eyes, how friendly they are. They all seem to smile invitingly and are interested, curious, polite and most importantly, I realized, unafraid. Really unafraid.
"I like Canadians.", I thought as I realized that I am not done with Canada yet. I think I need to return to ride those roads again. There are more stories here I need to experience.
I thought more about symbols. Why did I meet the people that I did? Most I seemed to meet because of the bike. Most were riders or interested in riding. Many, like Dani, recognized me as a kindred spirit because of the gear I had.
"But I understood and noticed none of that.", she had said, a comment which I would think about endlessly and eventually come to understand. "Such a wise woman.", I would later think.
Was it the place? The culture? Maybe things are just different out here. Western Canadians are a positive albeit walled in bunch, but I like that. It's comfortable for me. "My politeness and world view seem to match them more up here than they do at home.", I thought as I considered so many conversations I had.
The sun was fierce.
My GPS started to flake out. It's a car grade GPS that is not suited for outdoor motorcycle use so I put it into a water proof bag. It flops in the wind badly and tends to break the power cable confusing the GPS something fierce. I've already replaced the cable once on this trip and it was looking like this new cable had given up the ghost quicker than the last.
Then I remembered that I'm a fucking genius. How many thousands of miles has it been?
The answer was "duct tape". The question was "What simple easy fix could Yermo have come up with to make his whole trip more pleasant.".
Problem for the next cable solved. I would have to get a new power cable though.
The sun set on the horizon once again and it was beautiful, and there I stood on the side of the road alone, no one to share it with. But it was ok. I was at peace with that fact.
I rode on into the darkness marvelling at the fact that I have not gotten rained on despite thunderstorms being all around me.
I eventually found a hotel after searching quite a bit and a restaurant that was open. Very bad food. There's a lot of very bad food out here in the flat. But then again, there's alot of bad food on the road in general.
I went to sleep but was not able to sleep well once again.
The Next Day
I had overdone it on the previous day. I guess all that time baking in the sun took it out of me more than I realized. I woke up looking old, older than I have at any time on the trip, my face badly swollen and I felt ill, ill the way I felt on the last cross country trip.
I had only done maybe only a little over 400 miles the previous day but I looked and felt like I had done 1000.
I got up very late, checking out of the hotel a half hour after checkout time and sat at a diner trying to wake up drinking lots and lots of coffee and water.
On the horizon a very bad storm was brewing and heading my way. Normally I would rush to see which way I needed to head and try to run away from the storm. But I didn't, not in a self destructive or depressive way, it was just that I didn't care.
"If it rains let it rain.", I thought as I sipped another cup of brown colored water they call coffee. I sat for some time, some very long time, considering how I felt. My thoughts went back to Rick who is now on the Dalton Highway. I hope he is not being eaten alive by mosquitoes too badly.
I remember how he had posted on Facebook, talking about the Dalton Highway, that he hadn't thought about it being beautiful up there, only focusing on the hardships. "What a tragedy.", I thought, "for him to go all that way."
So I posted:
"I'm still on the road. Outside of a Calgary now on the sad route back to what I call home. Stop. Take a moment. Breathe. Enjoy the moment. Ignore the mosquitoes, the mud, the hardship and let the beauty of the place you are about to ride to get inside. It would be a tragedy to visit this place and, despite it's hardships, not appreciate how special, how foreign, it is. Enjoy it."
I would think about this for some time coming to realize that I need carefully listen when I speak.
Why did I dread going home so much? What was so different out here? Was it the people I met? The culture?
I had dreaded the return trip since I started this journey.
I thought about one thing she said, that at first I had completely misunderstood, "And then on to my favorite part, NEXT!", talking about my journey home.
"Next.", I thought, sadly, not understanding, so wishing I could avoid going home and turn in some other direction.
Then suddenly I got it.
Change. Motion. New experiences. That is what's so different about the road. Every day begins anew and there are new faces, places and experiences to be had. I have seen and experienced so much new on this trip. Motion is good for the soul.
There are so many souls you meet out here. For the most part you just pass through these lives a momentary blip on the radar. But rarely, oh so rarely and you are blessed if it happens to you, you become part of a life for a brief moment that Changes Everything and you see as if with new eyes.
I have always known that I liked the time on drives that have a destination but I don't like to just randomly drive around. I have to have a goal. I realized, that I too need a "Next", a sense of End in order to enjoy the Next Now. At every point on this trip where I have truly enjoyed myself there was in it a sense of "End", of "Next".
That was one aspect of the weekend that was so powerful. There was motion and change. Left to my own devices, I sit and contemplate and do not move for hours. She, on the other hand, is always in motion, but not in a hurried or stressed way. It's just motion. Dinner is done, it's time to go outside and sit in the sunshine for a little bit. Then walk to the horses. There is no sense, none, that this is a sin, that somehow one should be doing something to accomplish a goal, get the next task on the endless todo list done, to move closer to that irrational goal, whatever it is. There is only now, and now it's time to go sit outside and bask in the sun for a short moment. During the day she decides not to go to work so it's off to the beach at the lake, then without staying too long it's on to dinner, then drinks. The next day, after working hard for a few hours and going for a run, her dinner plans cancelled, let's go for a ride. Always motion, fluid natural unhurried motion letting each moment last as long as it should and not longer. Each moment has a beginning a middle and most importantly an end.
Next. Now I understood.
I really need to listen to what I say to people. Back in Ouray, talking to one of the noise makers who did not want the fire to be put out, I said:
"In order for there to be a beginning, there must previously been an end.", I said.
"I get it. We put the fire out tonight so we can have another one tomorrow!", he said enthusiastically accepting now that he had to go to bed.
There are so many lessons that I have known, but have not internalized, have not felt.
I now know a big part of why I feel like I have nothing to go back to. My life has no "Next". I have not paid attention to how I feel. It has always been ingrained in me that to feel is to be weak, pathetic, and needy. You force yourself to endure whatever. I am very good at it.
My nightmare and it's effect were real. I look back now with these new eyes on that person that sat in that house for all those years. Few knew the many many nights I would sit alone in the dark on my couch panic attacks making me feel like I was having a heart attack. Or the times, the endless expanses of time, when I would work so hard I would be in the house for a week straight never stepping foot outside. Or the times, doing nine month workaholic stints trying to achieve something for reasons I did not understand, where I would not meet a single new person.
Looking at it now, and the life I have to go back to, it's no wonder that I dread it with all my being and want to go back to that sunshine and light and "Next" that I experienced in that special place over the mountains and now very far away.
Sitting there in the dark in my house working away hours and hours on end, there is no next, just more of the same day after day. With saddistically few exceptions, my childhood was like that. My teenage years were like that and much of my adult life has been like that. Strange and sad that I have never thought, never understood, that's why I have hated my life so much.
And now it looks completely insane to me. I was always taught, brainwashed, that work and only work is valuable, and that was a lesson that has to change.
I think about the lifestyle in Washington DC. Get a job. Move up the company ladder. Work like a fiend. Acquire stuff. Stress. Each day like that last, but more importantly each phase of life like the previous from beginning to end.
In a way it's it's own kind of a Nightmare, and nightmares are times when you have no Next. I thought about culture, the North German culture I admire and value. Build a house with your own hands and have it last 250 years. There's a permanence to Germany that's not present in the States. But maybe, given how my life developed, those concepts are no good for me?
I guess maybe with children there is always a next. Each day they grow and become different leaving parents to experience a new event.
But we, we who are not on what Tanya calls the Standard Plan, we have to develop our own Plan, a Non-Standard Plan. This is something that until today I have not seen clearly. She is not on the Standard Plan. She's single and has been for a while and her friends marvel and worry at the fact that she's single. My friends wonder the same about me. Find someone you like and be with them. That's the standard plan. But when you grow up like an oak on crooked and broken ground the standard plan does not work for you. For people like us, we have to invent, we have to create, we have to develop our own Plan. And often times these self created Plans are not compatible, well maybe, not yet.
Even though she's working like a fiend right now to accomplish a goal she said, "It's good for now" implying that maybe soon she would change. She is internally free to choose in a way I have never been.
"Interesting.", I thought. "My company. What if it does fail? What if it's over? 12 years we put in ... how badly have I let Anatoly down?", when I realized that's just fear thinking and still part of my nightmare speaking loud and clear. "Hmmm. Maybe I am afraid of Next in the bigger sense of the word." Maybe the industry has changed and circumstance was to blame? Now that's a thought I've never had. But then again, if I can muster the calm of the Dalton in business, maybe I can come to see the obvious solution in front of me that has eluded my sense for 18 years, like a loose connector.
I wonder. Can I rework my life in DC, take responsibility for it, so that there is always a sense of Next? I pondered that for some time thinking about how I don't really know what I like left to my own devices. So I asked a different question, "Can I make my life at home more like my life on the road. What do I like most of the road?".
Meeting people, learning from their stories, being open and letting the occasional very special person in.
"Silly universe.", I thought wondering if that symbol too would give me an insight that I needed to learn. I found myself wondering about how the mind looks for symbols. "Do I just find the symbols I need or are they random and I would not learn what I need to. Would I never have learned about Next if it wasn't for her?", I questioned realizing that the answer was definitely no. I was just fortunate. Improbably fortunate but ready to learn what I needed to.
Ian said travelling is good for the soul, but you have to open and willing to explore those parts of you you like the least, the places that hurt. The road is a very good place to do that.
"I feel differently, I really do.", I thought as I considered that maybe, thinking of the silly rainbow, maybe I could learn to do what she does. Not to be crazy optimistic like someone who just denies the bad stuff in life, but instead have a balanced view, to rationally accept the bad but decide not to let it hurt too much and then /choose/ to feel the emotional impact of the good, to not doubt that it has value and what it meant. "I wonder if she feels anything about the fact that I chose to spend an extra three days with her?", I mused as if to consider a thing forbidden to consider, and I allowed myself the rare feeling, "I bet she does.".
To do with people, with events, with endings, what I could so easily do on the Dalton Highway, but haven't been able to do with this. Enjoy the moment, cherish it, learn from it and then move on to the next moment freely.
"I feel differently. Something has changed.", as I pondered what it might be. The universe seems different today.
I walked outside and looked at the storm.
"I am beginning to feel like I will be able let my Nightmare and it's effects lie.", I thought as I misread the GPS and thought I was going to head into the storm.
"Maybe my future will not be so bad. Maybe Duncan is right. Maybe the storms and the nightmare are behind me.", I thought as I considered what a silly symbol it would be if the storm were on the other side.
Then I realized I had misread the GPS and headed off into the sunshine.
"Ok, this is truly ridiculous.", I thought being slightly embarrassed knowing that I would feel compelled to share this.
I rode off never getting rained on, the large beautiful storm in my mirrors the whole time.
I rode on for a while but the GPS started flaking out again. I believed it was the cable so when I stopped to get gas I checked the GPS, fully expecting the bitch to lie to me like she had done so often in the past, and she led me to a Walmart.
I never go into Walmart. I hate it. It's an Artificial Rule.
They did in fact have a power adaptor for my GPS.
I baked once again in the hot sun and fumbled with the GPS. It turns out it was not the cable but the power connector in the GPS itself. "$10 wasted.", I thought but had no desire to go back into the place. "I'll just use it as a charger when the need arises. I've spent so much crazy money already.", I thought and moved forward.
I was overheating. I drank the last of my water, got on the bike and headed onward.
Leaving the parking lot I saw a Starbucks, remembered the previous day and thought, "I'm on no schedule. I've got plenty of time. Let me stop, be kind to myself, drink lots of water and have a cup of coffee". So I sat at a Starbucks for an hour rehydrating.
For those of you who know me best, please don't panic.
I don't think I'm going to be as much of a fan of Starbucks as I have been. I may not go there that often. As I sat there I kept thinking how it just did not feel right. The last time I was in a coffee shop, I had enjoyed it so much more. It was the company I had, but the indelible mark it made made me feel like this shop I was in was just not right.
"I wonder what things I have not explored in my own neighborhood?", as I sipped my coffee and glugged water pondering why I've never taken the calm time to explore the place I have lived for 15 years. "Crazy.", I thought.
After I had enough to drink I rode on for a couple hours. I stopped at a rest stop. A guy on a Gold Wing trike rolled up. I had not met anyone new in some time and was feeling closed. "People here are just not as friendly. There are no smiles. There is no openness.", I thought as I considered whether maybe my soul simply doesn't match the place I was living.
A couple of women walked up and asked me about the bike. They said, "You're far from home".
"Not nearly as far as I have been.", I replied and we got to talking about the Dalton Highway and my journey. They left. I looked towards the guy with the Wing. He had an unfriendly closed nature to him, but, out of character and mustering a social bravery I rarely have, I walked up to him. "I've never seen one of these up close.".
His demeanor changed as he said in a thick French Canadian accent, "Really? I can't believe that.".
He had built the thing himself. The rear end was made of a combination of, I believe it was, Chevy and VW parts. He had custom engineered his own indepedent rear suspension so the thing leans a bit. "I have a heart condition so I can't ride the two wheelers any more.", he said. It turns out he used to work as a mechanic for a Formula 1 team in the 70's.
We talked about the Dalton, Prudehoe Bay, Alaska, He had come back from touring the tar sands and diamond mine operations in North Canada. "They are worth seeing. You should go.", he said.
Another destination in search of a Journey. I found myself thinking that I just might. I don't think I'm done with Canada yet. I think I have to return. This place is good for me.
We parted company and he headed on his way. When I got back to the bike I noticed the side stand had sunk into the pavement.
"If it's this hot here I don't even want to imagine Washington DC.", I feared.
I rode on after taking a pause, a moment, to read about wildfires in Canada. How unlike me.
I rode for miles on straight endlessly flat roads eventually crossing into Ontario. The further East I go in Canada the less friendly the faces become. It's palpable. I don't think I'm making it up.
I tried to stop in a town called Kenora. They were having a huge lake fest and every single hotel was booked. A huge storm loomed on the horizon. A Harley rider, who had been soaked by the storm, mentioned the rain. "It's bad.", he said.
I was under a hotel overhang when it started to rain. A man from the lower 48, as they call it up here, asked me if I was going to be ok in the rain. "It is what it is.", I said. "I hope it's not too bad.", he replied.
"Even if it is it'll be ok too.", I replied matter of factly.
"True enough.", he said.
I have to remember to value the small interactions. I've recently had a huge soul altering Interaction that has changed my world view. Leaving it has left a hole in me and it would be a tragedy to let that hole close me to value the small interactions along the way. When travelling do not Expect. Just let yourself be and find a way to enjoy and value the small interactions along the way, even if they are just a few seconds conversation with a stranger you will never see again.
I put on the tank bag rain cover and my rain mits and went to head out when the sun appeared. "Fuck. Ok this is just getting completely ridiculous.", I thought almost annoyed.
I pulled out.
I'm not making this up.
Ok, universe, I think I get it.
But I did not. Not yet.
I rode away from the storm. It was HUGE and fierce but I did not see any of it directly.
I just saw sunshine.
"Ridiculous.", I thought as I figured anyone who knows me would think I'm making this up.
Ok, this NEVER happens. ENOUGH ALREADY!
The landscape changed. There were now rocky hills and trees. "Ok, now it's time to get into the storm.", I thought as I was clearly about to get pissed on.
It drizzled on me slightly never raining really hard. The road was soaked through. I continued on, still not quite grasping the lesson I was about to learn.
The sun came out and set on the horizon.
I rode on for a while eventually needing to get gas. The gas station attendant girl, not quite the most beautiful attendent ever but still very attractive, said, "I can't believe you're not wet. If you had been in this storm you would have had to pull over. It was HORRIBLE."
I thought for a while longer about the rainbow and the storms. I thought about what She had said. "I refuse to let cirumstance pull me down." fearing there was a lesson in here somewhere.
I had expected the storms. They have always been there. "Everything I have touched has gone badly.", I thought as I considered my life and the motorcycle rides I've taken. I've done so many miles in the rain and so few on this trip. It's been nuts.
I thought about the Nightmare as I considered the rainbow and the storms. "Why did I never defend myself? Why did I endure all those years, all those terrible years. Why did I just not simply leave when so many people told me to.", I asked myself.
The old man tortured me. I was put to work and given responsibilities at a very young age that turned me into a very responsible, very adult child. "But no one wants to interact with a child that acts like an adult.", Tanya would say.
I was told over and over again for most of a lifetime what a failure I was, how I was responsible for the failings of the company (I was 12), how my I was responsible for the fact my mom would die a cold and lonely death in the gutter and so many other things. I have told these stories so many times, but not until I have put them down into words in this public forum, forced myself to do it, has it become clear to me how insane that is. I was 12.
But I learned to endure. I could force myself to do anything and I now, with a strange clarity, realize why I could never walk away from the Nightmare, why I had to see it to the end and Finish it. Get it resolved when no one, not even my lawyers thought it could be done.
Because I had to prove to myself in some kind of vein effort that they were wrong. I was not the man they said I was. I got it done against overwhelming odds. My friends who Saw will tell you that. The professionals who worked with me will tell you that.
But I cannot yet accept it.
And today, because writing helps, I wrote a message. Personal. But in it I realized something as I put all this into perspective.
I have been struggling to describe thoughts, feelings, constraints that bind your possibilities and restrict your world. It's the kind of thinking that makes seasoned adventure riders with knobby tires crash on the Dalton when I can ride it in the same conditions with ease. It's not an ego thing. It's a perspective thing. Change how you Think, change how you See and you can change what you can do.
I wondered if I could do with Life what I can do with riding.
And then it hit me. Out of the blue it hit me as I was typing. What I have been trying to grasp is not artificial Constraints, Thoughts or Feelings.
It's beliefs. Things you were taught to believe. Things that you were taught to believe that hurt you, that restrict your possibilities, that close you to the beauty around you. The beliefs that turn a wonderfully beautiful road like the Dalton into a slog that one dreads.
No, Toxic Beliefs.
And then I understood. In a moment of rare clarity I understood. I have been handed down a huge set of Toxic Beliefs that color how I experience the world. With life I am like the adventure riders so concerned with things that they believe, that they toxically believe, that the time they spend is squandered and the point is missed.
I was toxically made to believe that I am bad to my core by deeply damaged parents who used me a symbol for all their failings. I was left to clean up one of the most anatagonistic evil messes that anyone has heard about. When these things happened, when any bad thing that hurts me happens, feelings that I have been handed down arise that I had not realized where there. A bad event happens, such as a motorcycle breaks and I hear the words on the old man, "You are a failed project of mine. I dont' know where I went wrong with you."
For the first time I take a huge risk and ignore the toxic beliefs, which in many instances turn into Artifical Rules, and I have one of the best weekends of my life.
Toxic beliefs are beliefs that hurt you, restrict your opportunities and prevent you from experiences, realizing and most importantly /ENJOYING/ the moment at hand. They are handed down to you by parents, by the wider culture, by religion and other sources.
When you are living the Standard Plan, wife, kids, house, retirement, it's less clear because everyone around you is living with the same beliefs.
But when, as I am, you are living the Non-Standard Plan, making it up as you go along, Toxic Beliefs are more problematic. They are more harmful because they do not free you to explore the freedom you have.
But even if you are living the Standared Plan there are toxic beliefs that can constrain you and make you No Fun. Things like never taking a moment for yourself because you are too stressed taking care of your family worried about what will happen if you are no longer around. I have many friends living this kind of, what I would call, Nightmare. It does not have to be that way.
"Life sucks and then you die.". What a horrible statement. Cowardly. Fearful.
Like the Dalton, I see now that Life can be ridden, travelled, and can be enjoyed,valued and learned from despite it's risks, despite the epic suck. It, like the mosquitoes, mud, rain, water trucks and huge gravel will always be there. Don't let those emotionally detract from the enjoyment of what is there. Prepare for the suck but do not let it rule you. Take care of your family, but examine your own beliefs, about what is possible, what you can allow yourself, not irresponsibly, but practically, rationally, about what is toxic and non-toxic. Then, after you've allowed yourself to feel, really feel the impact of those beliefs, to figure out which are good for you and which aren't, take a risk. Take a shot in the dark.
You may end up being a better person for it.
I think maybe now I finally, after a lifetime, no longer have the pressing need to talk about my nightmare and what was done to me.
Maybe I understand now.
As James, the bear of a trucker said, "And then you have to get on with it''.
Excellent. All the best theoretical concepts in the world are of little value until one is ready to accept and apply them.
Once one is ready, it's nearly as simple as a 1 second internal "click", and suddenly the world has shifted about a foot to the left--permanently.
Well done; this was/is/will be the entire point of the whole operation (at least as it appears from the outside). *Lots* of external work/effort/labor for a (seemingly but not really at all) "small" internal shift...