First, please accept my apologies for not posting last week. I’d led an expedition for my class and the weekend just got away from me (as did the week). We backpacked from Portugal Cove to Bauline on the East Coast Trail and I was humbled by the courage and tenacity that some of students showed in raising to the challenges of a difficult trail made more difficult by frequent wind fallen trees.
The trip was a wonderful reminder of how our experiences fall on a continuum from cakewalk to Everest depending on how we perceive them, our fitness and experience levels, and where the stars align. What is a cakewalk for me can be an Everest for another and vice versa and what is a cakewalk for me today, may be an Everest tomorrow. Jumbo Bug, a student (we all took trail names for the course) in the course, coined a new name for me while we were on the hike, she handed me the moniker, “Captain Steroids” indicating her perception that this was an easy hike for me compared to her experience of it.
I got brave yesterday and posted a query to Ride the Rock website; it is a forum about riding in Newfoundland for adventure motorcycle riders. I’m ready to start riding off-road and wanted recommendations on good rides to start with…Why was this a brave act you might ask? Well, because I am shy, and asking questions is often a steep challenge. And because they might actually answer and I’ll know where to go ride and I’ll have to face my fears of hurting myself or hurting my new bike. And because they might invite me to join their community of riders and it can be tough to be the “new guy on the block” and not know anything compared to them.
What was the alternative? Try to sort out things on my own…poke my nose down a few trails and see what happens, use up lots of time sorting through options, crash my bike miles from nowhere. Instead, by being a bit brave and taking what was a “social” risk for me, I now know three good rides for a newbie off-roader and I do have invites to go for rides with more experienced folks who actually have a clue how to change a motorcycle tire or what to do if you fall over while crossing water. I’ve read about these things in my bright, shiny new books but there is nothing like a good mentor and teacher to show the way. So, later today I’ll go ride one of their suggestions and when I’m ready, I’ll accept the invitation to a group ride.
As a shy human, I usually choose to get lots of information about the world through observation. I watch what’s on the go and can often figure out what I need to do this way. The Internet was a god’s gift to me…no more phones! Imagining asking someone for directions is like asking me to cross a ladder in the Khumbu backwards at night without a headlamp, with no side ropes. My buddy Karen on the other hand, is very skilled at asking such questions. We had a funny experience once, on a public bus, in a city that was unknown to both of us. We both figured out where to get off the bus but by very different means. Karen asked the driver, I watched street signs and the other passengers. Both worked. One method is often more efficient than the other but bottom line, both work much of the time.
When people come up to me and say, “I could never do what you do, I could never climb Everest,” I often reply that, “You can do many things I can’t do either.” Some of us face physical challenges, others of us emotional, while others social ones. Most often, our challenges are a combination of all of the above but I believe it is truly difficult to separate mind from body from spirit.
In reality, the road to any dream is littering with obstacles that we must surmount either by going over them, around them, under them, or getting help to build a bridge that crosses them. In motorcycling school, they teach us to “Always look where you want the motorcycle to go, never look at what you are trying to avoid.” I’ve been thinking about that lesson frequently of late and realizing that it holds true. If I look directly at an obstacle in my path, I tend to hit it square on. I get stuck by it. In it. Derailed by it. If on the other hand, I look to where I want to go, I see the obstacle as something to swerve around and miss. I look to the space where I can continue forward.
I suspect this is a two-wheeled version of the glass half-empty verses full gig. Looking around or ahead of the obstacle is positive thinking and keeps me moving. Looking at the obstacle, rather than how to solve the obstacle, often stalls me. As I look back at my climb on Everest, I can see how I looked squarely at the obstacles that arose for me on the mountain. I fell into many figurative crevasses that got in my way. Still digesting and hoping to be ready to share more on that soon.
Hoping for a big bike ride today after brunch with friends…have a good week.