First Ride

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Not really the first ride, but the first ride since Spring began, this latest was also the muddiest. Run-off from the mountain snow became little streams that went down parts of the trail. I couldn’t see them until I was right in them, so avoiding the mud was not really possible. It flipped up off the back tire. It caked in between the gears, coated the chain, and started to make the derailleurs work less efficiently. It was everywhere. The mud didn’t make the ride any less fun, though it created problems. In fact, if I’m being honest, I’d rather have a wet trail. A dry and dusty trail is in some ways less preferable. Dust finds its way into your ears and nostrils, while mud usually only lands on your cheeks. I’d rather have the obvious mud than the less obvious dust. There’s probably a life lesson in that. A moral to the biking story? Isn’t there always? Also, just so you know, mountain biking is always done “at a distance”, so it’s safe to do at this time.

Imagination Is Everything

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You know how it goes. It’s night. The lights are off. When you look into the corner of your room, there’s someone sitting there who shouldn’t be there. Whoever it is, they wear dark clothes, and an even darker expression on their face. They don’t move, but you’re staring so intently at this mysterious person you forget the window is open. The curtains flutter with a sudden breeze and your heart does its own kind of fluttering. You didn’t expect the movement to come from somewhere other than the mystery guest, the burglar, the psychopathic serial murderer who snuck into your house to admire your neck…and why isn’t the psycho moving? Why isn’t the malicious intruder startled by the sudden movement of the curtains next to him? Because he’s a psycho, of course.

You fumble to find the light switch. The light momentarily blinds, but once you’re used to it you can see the psycho is only that shirt and jacket you threw on the chair earlier. You’ve done this before, so why don’t you remember?

The whole ridiculous scenario makes you laugh. Your imagination just found murder and death and fear in a pile of clothes. Where else could it take you? To musical landscapes? To lazy, serene Armageddons? To placebo psychedelic episodes?

Accidental poisonings and extra limbs and the far reaches of an alternate universe and the things living secretly underground and seven levels of enlightenment all have one thing in common—your imagination.

With your imagination, a simple stick can be a sword, a gun, a staff, a magic wand, a pet snake, a shovel, an arrow, a bow, a horse, a spear, an antler, a machete, a telescope, a lever, an axe, a metric, a tower, a tree, an alligator, firewood, an arm bone, a crutch, a relic from a lost civilization, an alien device, a paintbrush, a whip, a baseball bat, a pool cue, a motorcycle, and even a magical key to unlock the treasure chest to more mysteries.

Don’t even get me started on what your imagination can make out of a rock.

Near-Life Experience

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Is a near-life experience as important to you as a near-death experience?

Or do you assign more significance to the unknown? No one knows what it’s like after death except the already dead, and they’re not usually very conversant with the living. So when we come really close to death, almost dying, which is it we give the most merit, life or death? Are we saying we almost died and the thrill was in the living through such an exciting situation? Or are we saying we should have gone to the other side but didn’t, so now we’re a little disappointed?

🎵Did you ever think, when a hearse drives by…?🎵

Did you ever have a near-life experience? “I almost lived.” What is it like to almost live? What does it look like? Is it to almost do something? Is it to almost experience something? Is it to almost be experienced?

Or is it something more, something deeper, something less easily defined?

Does near-life mean you came close to a power beyond life and death? Does near-life mean you came in close proximity to someone who is immortal? Would an immortal have secrets beyond the simplistic mortal’s knowledge? Could someone who cannot die be considered more full of life? If not, then who?

Is it only those who enjoy life who are full of it? Is it only the imaginative who are full of life? Is it only the rich who are full of life? Is it only the amazing extravert, with his unstoppable sense of humor who has the most life? None of it matters unless we can figure this out.

We have to know so we can examine the nearness of life. Where we find it is where we’ll stay. We’ll hang there. We’ll stay there. We’ll build a skyscraper there and let all of our friends move in. Why? Because we live where life is. And doesn’t one near-life experience lead to another? And doesn’t one near-life experiencer live next to another? Who best to tell all your stories of life to than your best friend in life? Do you share the life that almost was, or the life that still is and always will be?

That’s not the question. The question isn’t to be or not to be either. The major question here is whether it’s more important to you to have almost lived, or to have almost died?

Is it also possible to value them both equally? Could you want one, find it, then want the other one? Could you slide between the two? Climb to the next, almost fall off the ladder, and…and realize you were there. You had it when you almost fell. You had the experience you wanted to find. So when you found it, what became most important to you?

Panic Attack

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The all too common panic attack. Not interested in jamming on about what to do to cure them, no sir. I’d rather have a go at how to create one.

Sure, panic attacks aren’t fun to those who are in the middle of one, but to anyone who isn’t currently under attack, they can be hilarious and silly. From outside the attack, the lack of logic is obvious.

I’m not only writing this because of the recent events, but because I’m a huge fan of Andrew Schiavone, a comedian who cohosts a podcast by the name of Panic Attacking. A good many of the episodes have decent jokes, but if you want a real taste of Andrew’s comedy, follow him on Twitter.

Now to answer the question we all ask ourselves every day: How can I give myself a panic attack today? And of course many of you have come up with the evident current pandemic. Absolutely right, but let’s dig a little deeper.

How about trying a new career. Make a career move to public speaking. How’s your anxiety now?

Okay, maybe that one didn’t get you. Consider the idea of walking around your neighborhood at 3AM. Is that something you would want to do? Or is it something that gives you the heebies? Does walking around your neighborhood at night sound like a horror show? Even if you only have a mild amount of fear, that’s a mild amount of panic—attacking you. The reason that’s funny is because either you don’t know any of your neighbors, or you know them far too well. Brilliant, isn’t it? Revel in it; there’s more.

Panic should attack you if you know you’re going to grow old. Your body’s going to change so much that all the people who used to know you won’t be able to recognize you. Hair is going to grow out of places on your body it never used to grow. If you’ve passed through puberty already then you know what I’m talking about, sorta-kinda. Except as you grow older, the hair growth will be weirder than puberty and less pleasant.

If you’re even younger than puberty age, you’re pre-pubescent, and you have plenty to worry about. Someday you’re going to find out Harry Potter isn’t real, Pokemon is only a game, and The Mandalorian moves slower than your dad’s old cellphone. Beware reality! It’s coming to find you young ones, believe it.

Is there one thing that works universally to give everyone a panic attack? I don’t think so. We all have different talents and fears and worries. We all come from different neighborhoods. If there was one thing that attacks us equally, I’d say it’s the famous question, “Do you have enough toilet paper?”

Work vs. Sleep

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You have work, but you want to sleep. What are you going to do?

Today, I suggest the sleep. Sleep in. Go back to sleep. Whatever. Skip work. Unless you’re the garbage man. The garbage truck driver has to work even on the day after Christmas. He doesn’t get to skip work just because there’s a snowstorm or a holiday or a dumpster fire. The garbage truck driver dumps the dumpster while it’s on fire. You know he does.

He’s okay. Most of his job is good, even though he has to be to work on those odd days. At least he works days. He doesn’t have to work a graveyard shift. At least he has a schedule. “Drive down such-and-such a street on this day,” they say. “Drive down the other street on a different day,” they say. And he does it, because he doesn’t mind. He gets to listen to audiobooks while he’s working the route. And he doesn’t have to slog through the snow like that crazy walking-route mailman does.

Everyone can look elsewhere for people with worse jobs. The mailman can say, “At least I don’t have to clear a sewage line, backed up by those crazy Americans with their obsession over flushing massive amounts of paper. At least I’m not a plumber.”

And the plumber can say, “At least I don’t have to bury the dead. What a thankless job that is.”

And the undertaker can say, “At least I don’t have to nurse them back to health, or listen to them whine about how cold the bed and the soup and the medicine is.”

And the nurse can say, “At least I don’t have to spray out their bowling shoes.”

And the bowling alley rental counter attendant can say, “At least I don’t have to chop the heads off of fish.”

And the butcher can say, “At least I don’t have to endure the scorching heat on the ocean where they catch these fish.”

And the fisherman can say, “At least I don’t have to work for a handful of cabbage writing fake news for the Russians.”

No matter what job you do, you can imagine worse. Even better, if you can take a sick day, you should be able to see the benefits you have. See it, be grateful for it. No problem.

Get some sleep, have even one less problem.