Friday, July 22, 2005

Riding Easier Toward Pari...dise


Boy heidi, I sent a post to about ten or so friends Wednesday which, because of what I thought was its considerable bite, became a draft as it were of yesterday's blog post [which see below]. From some of those friends, I got back some engaging responses [see the comments]. I'm guessing a few other friends ran for cover - just too much edginess - and there may be worries I was going to crash and burn. But alas, whipping out my Whitmanesque shadows and odes makes my day, so it was a good rhetorical, literary exercise for me - a mental mirror. But frankly, I got a bit concerned it might not be good for all concerned. Hence todays "Riding Easier" follow up, finishing out Friday on an up stroke and a smile.

Seems a few friends have gone through the summer's globally warmed (make that broiled) doldrums this year, not finding much good in the weather or in the sapien species of late, much less finding any good in the news.

I wanted to take the opportunity to let some of their worldly disdain has rubbed off on me - our cynical strains love company, too - and to put it through my own convex mirror and magnifying glass.

Life is either like a ditiful bundle of tasks, of convention played out in that petty pace from day to day, or it is like a vision quest, wrestling our fears like alligators, fueling our ambitions like a fragile race car. Or maybe, in some visceral ways, Le Tour de France....

As I progress along my own vision quest elsewhere and here at ABN, friends and dear readers, please don't take my current disdain for the big scheme of things too personally. All shadowy slides in good fun, don't you know. Sure, this is a bit of venting, and I want it's edginess to rile at times but also to bring smiles at times. And sure, it's difficult to swing around and about. But here we are, I hope, relishing the variety, getting some quirky glimpses at honest disclosure, saying more intensely what others say in muffled asides off the record, but still, it is a literary exercise and cathartic, strange as that may seem. The good cheer, the zany outbursts, the Seinfeldian obsurdity are always there or at least close by, a simultaneous strain.

As can be seen from my posts here at ABN, I've ridden high and low, near and far.

As le gran Tour de France 2005 comes to a close this year, many of us in the world of cycling are wondering what comes next, after the Champs E'llyse and the chamapagne. Lance Armstrong has transcended the realm of bicycle racing to become a symbol for over coming odds, for fighting back, specializing, for staying focused, for clinching wins. Many admire this combination of factors that has led to his phenomenal fame and success. But it all comes down to doing one thing well; if he had not been and then become again a supremely talented bike racer, he would be a footnote, nearly forgotten by now, sad as that may be to say. Even Lance has said, in humbler settings, that "fighting" the disease doesn't always make the difference. Many fight as courageously - some even more so - and lose. Dead at 17 or 28 or 62.

Most of us don't feel like fighters, and we don't really want to fight ourselves or fight those close to us. That's why we watch smarmy "superheroes" like Superman and Spider Man and Ahhhhnold and Battlestar Gallactica and on and on - a nearly constant stream of people fighting others and enemies and evil for our imagination. But we like to think we could fight our enemies or Evil or the Boss at Work or the Powers That Be or the common cold or cancer. We like to imagine "fighting" makes the difference. Oh, our crude roots hard wired and sparking our fantasies to beat this mortal trial. Most of us want an easier road to pleasure or paradise or even Paris than to have to fight for it every step of the way. We look to Superman and Lance.

But what about the real world? We need more than fight. We need more than hope. Lance has said that anger and luck are just about as important. And so life remains sloppy. Happiness remains elusive. And the struggle, if colorful and compelling enough, carries us through. We soak up those salient stories and mythic journeys from celebrities such as Lance, and we want to somehow apply them to our own lives. We want the joneses and the mojos of drama and success and meaning to rub off on us.

Most of us will never have supreme talent. Some of us may suffer not a lack of creative or industrious talent but a lack of talent to think clearly or to put our demons in their place, to ramp up our responsibilities, to reconcile our individual, unique difficulties with the culture and the world that surrounds us. That is what yesterday's post is to some extent about. It is about taking on the shadows of an Armstrong and the light of a Kerouac, seeing a quest before us, seeing greatness in this country, seeing grace and beauty and delight, but also seeing the potential for more of those things get squandered by complacency and get crushed by the powers that be. And those powers beat many of us down and back, from parents to primary school teachers to presidents. We want to overcome the odds. It is easier for some than others, and for those who can get so low and yet aim so high, the struggle is full of light and dark, black and blue, envious green and maybe, just maybe, victorious yellow.


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