Photo101: Landmarks

After a week of not posting I better start catching up. The assignment was to find an interesting perspective of a building. I liked how the building seemed to suit our Australian Shepherd Baggins.

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Reliving & Reminiscing

I recently recognized one of my biggest paradoxes as a male.

For years as a young man I pushed my limits in terms of safety; doing dangerous things allowed me to figure out who I was and what I was capable of. These activities defined my sense of self concept. Then as a new parent I felt an overpowering urge to be safe and to make sure that I was on the scene for my son for the long haul. Since that time I have struggled and this has seemingly been reflected in a reduction in creativity and productivity. Now I have to tell you that I love being a parent, it is the single most adventurous and stimulating activity I have ever encountered and I throw myself into it wholeheartedly. I have though struggled as I do not always feel I am being all I know I can be. This is dangerous terrain; while I am thinking about what was, I am not focusing on what is.

The major difference between reminiscing and reliving became very apparent a few weeks ago. Kimberly made it possible for me to take a few days off and go and do something. I elected to take off into the mountains and camp in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It has been many years since I have taken a trip just for me and by myself. I normally find that it becomes a walking meditation and I start by being very focused on the present and as I experience this, I can then focus on a single event or issue and give it my total attention. Walking alone is one of the best tools I know for solving any issue. On my way to the mountains I stopped in a climbing store in Boulder to pick up some tent pegs. Sat on a table were a number of Welsh and Scottish climbing guides and I was quickly sucked into reading them and thinking about trips and routes from my youth. This is reminiscing, contemplating what was and while I can harness this energy, if there is good in the situation it is a by-product.

Later on that day I was wading through knee deep snow, I was working exceptionally hard for my relatively sedentary body and I was renegotiating my plans with myself. I had initially intended on a backpacking circuit that took me up one valley along a ridge and down into another, knowing that I was going to have to get up really early to pick Cai up from school at lunch time on the third day. I was impressed with my residual fitness and yet I realized that if I wanted to make it in time for Cai, I also did not want to cart a backpack while flailing through deep snow. Then there came a flash of insight into what I am. While I do not do it so much these days, I like to be on high ground looking down and gaining the perspective this affords. In that moment I decided to climb a peak the next day; one I could see from my campsite, and then walk part way out along the route I came in and thus take advantage of my ready created trail.

So the decision was sparked by “reminiscence” however the true good of the situation came out of the action of “reliving” my past. The following day as my body was stretched with the effort of altitude, gaining height and floundering in the snow it occurred to me that this is my essence. As I constantly had to talk myself into going further – there was no one there to do this for me – I saw how I live resilience and determination. This in turn serves as a metaphor that I can use as a reminder of who I am.

What do you reminisce about? How do you relive your youth in a productive way?

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On Commuting and Being Open to Experience

Originally posted in November

At this time of year my journey to work usually involves a bike. It can be anything from the the whirl of spinning feet and a pulsing soundtrack oblivious to my surroundings, (or worse still people greeting me) to a festival of sensations  as I slowly pedal the two and a half  beautiful miles into the office. Already winter has taken its toll when ice and rubber did not agree and Wil slid clumsily down the blacktop, the cost including a pair of gloves, a down jacket, a helmet and a probable broken finger. It could have been much worse; watching the tarmac from half an inch as I glided over it,  skin buffered by my helmet was sobering and needless to say the studs are now on!

I like to wear headphones, they spike my attitude and allow me to push harder as I disassociate from the discomfort and focus on the task of going from a to b. By doing more and thinking less I become more efficient rather like a dog bounding full tilt, its hinging mid drift drawing air into its lungs. There is a major problem to this detachment though and that is a separation from my environment. I am no longer part of it, I do not feel it in the same way and therefore do not become involved with it. When on the machines at the gym this may or may not be a good thing, on my ride into work I am even less sure.

Today, I left the house in the crisp dark, it was warmer than it has been for a while with the temperatures hovering just below freezing (good news for snow). This though leads to very slick roads so I slowed down. Travelling by the light from a headlamp was like passing through a tunnel so I focused more on sound and smell. The noise of the treads of studded tires were distinctive and reassuring, the travel breeze on my face refreshing, when I came to the fork in the trail, I usually choose left or right around the lake, today I clambered through the beaver’s industry and after striding through the felled trees reached the lake. Now I have never riden a bike on a lake before, the expanse of open ground allowed a pre dawn light to reach the snow that covered the ice and while Cai & I had skated here on Sunday, I was still a little intimidated to push out onto the flat surface knowing I was seperated from freezing liquid by a mear few inches of frozen water. Like being out at night when it is possible to imagine that every shadow is a bear, being out on this lake raised the intensity of the experience. It was a truly sublime experience, the early morning quiet meant I could hear the shattering frost under my tires. The open flat surface allowed far more interaction with the movement of air and the crisp smell of cold, the low light spread a mirage of dancing shadows. I really felt attached to this place and this moment and with that connection came an uplifting. For a while anyway, the black of the onset of an Alaskan winter was blown away, the frustrations of work and home no longer held me captive and in that moment I was extremely content.

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