Under

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It didn’t matter how many times we’d been to the beach. We could look out at that ocean, play in it, skip stones across it, collect shells from it, get sunburned next to it, and still never know exactly what was down there underneath the waves. There were different life forms, much more different than the ones breathing the same air as us, or sharing the land with us. There were unnamable creatures; unnamable because no human had ever seen them. We have to be more comfortable, more familiar, with things before we can give them a name. To see the deeper things though could be a terrible awakening. Possibly they were so deep, so far out of reach, because we were never meant to see them. The act of witnessing would doom us to a life of mistrust. Our every word thereafter would be incredible. No one would believe us, unless they too had witnessed. Then we wouldn’t be alone in our madness, but we wouldn’t have the trust of the masses.

No one wants to believe the fathom-filled tales of beings unseen.

The average person isn’t ready. The average person isn’t prepared. A mind has to be led gradually into the maddening depths, otherwise it can be lost. Others like us can sense when their frail mental limits are being threatened. They don’t want to see the under. They don’t want to know about the oddities and anomalies. They want to find peace and complacence. A sense of the unknown is sometimes the greatest fright a mind can manage. Beyond that…too far under…the mind is affected in an irreversible way.

It still doesn’t matter. However many times we go to the beach, we don’t consider the number of living things beneath the surface. We don’t, because we shouldn’t, think about what is living off of the life of other things, eating, consuming, never satiated, always hungry enough to devour more life forms, and only leaving us because it hasn’t noticed us yet.

 

Rocket Bike

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I swear it was only one rocket.

The bike could handle it, I knew, because it was my brother’s. I’d seen him taking it off some epic jumps, brutal jumps, super-mega jumps. The bike was still alive, and so was my brother. I knew it could take the punishment of a single rocket.

It was attached with spare shoelaces. The kind that are too long for some shoes, and the other kind that are too short for boots. No one was using them anyway.

There was just enough room under the seat. Everything worked out perfectly. The runway was clear. Fuel was lit. The ride began with expectations—

—and took a century to end. I couldn’t believe the warp on it. It was only one rocket. How did the bike slip out of space-time? There’s no accounting for science. It gets distorted like sound and gravity and plastic in the hot sun.

From here to Mars, then Saturn, and even farther out. The bike and I raced past ice comets and Swiss cheese asteroids. There were seven kinds of aurora. One came too close and was disrupted by the streaking rocket bike.

From eternity to yesterday, the rocket bike cruised past lava flow and rivers full of crocodiles. The haunted house was nothing but a ghostly blur. Ghosts can’t fly as fast as a rocket. They don’t have enough energy.

Broken hearts of the ones who were left behind sounded in the beyond. They were insistent and couldn’t be ignored. A detour was made. A time tunnel, or a wormhole, or both. The bike rocketed through those as well. It was a cosmic U-turn. The runway where it all began came in view and we landed, the bike and I, in my backyard…and crashed through the wooden fence.

My mom came running out, picked me up, and shouted, “Are you alright?!”

I said, “Ma, I’m here now, you don’t need to shout.”

She hugged me tight and said, “Never do that again.”

“Sorry about the fence.”

“What are you talking about? I don’t care about the fence.”

“Sorry about Jared’s bike.”

“You’ll have to tell him.” She looked toward the house.

“Next time I’ll…I’ll only use one rocket.”

 

Reaching Nirvana

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There’s a great place on one of my favorite mountain bike trails called Nirvana. Someone set up a pole with ropes coming off of it and they attached about one hundred flags with Tibetan writing on the flags. Many of the flags are worn from the wind at the top of the bare mountain. There are trees, but not many. No tree there is big enough to block the wind.

To reach Nirvana, you don’t transcend, you ascend.

And it doesn’t take a lifetime; it takes less than an hour. Of course, how long it takes, depends on how many of the nearby trails you ride first.

The guys I was with this time were super fast and ready to go everywhere. We hit at least five of the trails, making our total trip around sixteen miles. Each trail seems to define a whole mountain. It was fun, but by the end I was not so much hitting the trail as hitting the wall. I only had a bit of granola for brekkie, so I was all out of energy by the end. In other words, I wasn’t in Nirvana any more.

From one vantage point we could see Old Lonely Mountain. It was still covered with snow. When it’s like that, it stays lonely.

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We won’t be going up there for a couple of months.

No flags at the top of that one, believe me.

Someone used the word forlorn, and I thought that fit Old Lonely really well. It looks that way in this photo, for sure. On the plus side, all that snow is going to keep people quenched for a long time. A little taste of Nirvana-like water from the higher reaches.

Anyway, to wrap up the trip report: No one got injured, but one guy did have his brake sticking the whole time we were riding, so he basically did twice the exercise the rest of us did. I’d hate to see how fast he could go with the brakes unstuck. He’d probably set something on fire. And I did have a universal¬†vision while I was meditating at the top of Nirvana, but it’s too long. I’ll have to tell you about it next time.

 

Skate Park Etiquette

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The first rule, the ultimate rule, is if you get injured you don’t report it to anyone…we don’t want the skate park closed down. Better to live your whole life with a broken wrist than to tell some overzealous adult that you damaged your wrist at the skate park, because then they might put a bunch of fences around it and “investigate” our playground for safety issues. The problem with adults investigating is this: they don’t skate. They don’t understand the difference between a skate-able feature and a hazard. The biggest hazard is a skate park with fences around it. Believe it.

Second rule, much like the first, is if you really can’t stand the pain, tell someone you broke your wrist playing football. They’ll totally buy that. Football is dangerous. Plus, if they close down the stadium to “investigate” or something like that, no one will care.

Third rule, of course, is never invite your parents to the skate park. One of them will see a sick trick and think it looks “life-threatening”. Then they’ll get all protective about their children and you end up getting the skate park closed down again. Don’t do it.

Aside from those three major rules, there are the other rules. Like, if there’s a little kid on a scooter, be careful around him. Don’t run him over. He’s a future skater. Make sure he knows the rule about wearing a helmet.

Elbow pads are required until you’re eight, and then you gotta take those goofy things off.

Knee pads are cool no matter what your age. There are a couple of rules about knee pads. One is that whenever you take your knee pads off, you ask someone nearby to smell them. The other rule is to never smell someone else’s knee pads.

When you get done spilling off the ramp, get your board and your butt out of the way. Someone else wants to ride that ramp, like right now, not after you’ve done first aid.

If your board goes one way, and you go the other way, learn how to grab it next time. Don’t be a two-way obstacle.

If you manage to crash with your face, first ask if anyone got that on video, then sweep up your teeth. Nothing stops a board worse than a tooth on the ground.

Riding against traffic is okay, as long as you’re on the highway. At the skate park we never do that. Thanks for whipping me with your shirt tails too, by the way. Jerk.

If you bring pizza, you better bring enough for everyone.

If you bring a drink, pick up after yourself. It’s not fun skating through piles of plastic bottles. Unless they’re filled with gas and you light them on fire. I’ve only seen that once, to be honest, and it didn’t end well…but it was fun to watch!

Young to Old

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The secret to staying young is always telling the time by hours, minutes, and even seconds. Think about it. Give a child a digital watch and then ask them the time, what do they do? They tell you the hour, the minutes, and then the seconds as they tick by,

“…forty-three, forty-four, forty-five…”

Middle-aged people will sort of fudge the time a little by the minutes, or they round off, up or down it doesn’t matter. They see a clock with the time reading: 5:21, and without hesitating they say, “It’s five thirty.”

The old are more concerned about how long between naps or meals. You can ask an old man what time it is right now and he won’t tell you in any straight way. He might tell you what time he got up this morning: “Four A.M.” He might tell you when he had lunch: “I had a sandwich at ten.” He might even tell you how long it takes him to get up the stairs. “Yesterday it took me ten whole minutes, but today I couldn’t make it that fast. I think the top three stairs alone took me ten minutes. I need electric stairs.” I know a few oldsters who wouldn’t even talk about time if you brought up the subject. They’d talk about their time in the war, or tell you about their latest knee surgery.

“You wanna see the scar?”