Too Many Coats

Too Many Coats

These are all my coats. Every morning, I walk by these on the way out of my house and I think, I’m ashamed to have this many coats. So many people have no coat at all. I have too many. Yet I can’t figure out how to get rid of even one. I have coats of various weights for various types of weather. Within those weights, I have the ‘good’ coats that are suitable for ‘going out in public’ and then I have the ‘work’ coats for working. These are usually coats that were once ‘good’ coats but got ‘worn out’ and have since been relegated to work duty. Most of these stink of gasoline or oil or dirt as they’re what gets worn to snowblow or work in the yard. I have a coat for when it rains a bit, but is mild. I have a coat for when it rains harder, and is possibly colder. I have a coat for when it rains hard, is cold, and I want to ride my bike. And not get hit by a car. I also have vests. And fleeces. I have coats for when it’s cool or cold, but also one for when it’s ‘really fucking cold’. I sit sometimes and stare at these things and try to decide which ones can go. I can never decide. There was a time when I never thought about these things. That’s part of the problem. If i’d have known then what I know now, I’d never have acquired this many coats. So many things are like this. Particularly hard, important things. I’m reading a book about climate change. Serious, serious shit. How do I start? How do I start to change? “Start with one thing” is the cliché answer. Which thing? If I as a singular person can’t even figure out which coat to get rid of first, how are we as a society – a species – ever gonna make it? Apparently, if I’m to look at the positive, whatever type of killer storm that brings about the Apocalypse – surely I will have the proper coat for it.

Mojujuness

I decided this weekend I’m gonna just ride bikes. That’s my thing. You probably knew that. You’re probably saying “well, duh, we can see that’s your thing – was this ever in doubt?” I was having a discussion with a buddy of mine, who also happens to be the proprietor of my LBS, about my confusion regarding ‘what I was doing’ in a very broad, ambiguous, ‘life-concept kind of sense.’ (My LBS offers more than just tune-ups) “Man,” he says, “you just need to keep fueling the bike stoke.” That word ‘stoke’ makes me cringe. I always feel like it’s only used by dudes sitting at the jump park complementing each other on tailwhilps over session beers. <SENDIT BRO> But I knew what he meant. For some people it’s stoke, others it’s mojo, PMA, juju, good vibes, synergy, or whatever. Whatever your particular words for it, it doesn’t matter. You go and get yours. If your thing is bikes, like mine, great, I hope I’m fueling your bike mojo. If not, that’s ok too. You do you. Do YOUR thing, because even if I don’t do that thing, I’m looking at you doing your thing here on Instagram and I’m seeing how psyched you are to do that thing and share that thing and the positive impact that thing is having on your life and the people around you that I’m fueling off that thing too. Your thing. Even if it’s not my thing. All the things. All the stoked, juju’d, mojo’d, PMA’d things. Bikers, runners, outdoorsers, artists, craftspeople, photographers, garbage men (persons?), chefs, moms, dads, kids. All doin’ they own thangs. Recognize, your good vibes are having a very real-world impact completely separate from Instagram and the on-line realm. I’m going to keep on doing my best to feed only positivity into the swirling well of stokeness here because it’s fun, but also because I hope it’s having real-world impact, somewhere. I hope we can all continue to branch out and feed off that mo-juju-vibe-MA from folks that have *different* things than us that inspire them, and in turn be inspired ourselves. I know I am. And in turn, as humans all our different things, our sum will totally be greater than all the parts. But still, really, ride bikes. It’s the greatest thing.

Dead End Stations

So, often, when I come up with an idea for a post, it comes to me while driving or some other time when I can’t really sit at a computer and write it all down. Sometimes I say to hell with it and let it go, other times I will stop and use Voice Memos on my phone to record a bit of the ideas, or a full on Dennis Leary/Rick Mercer-esque rant that I then go back to later to try and make a post out of. 

I would say 98% of the time, on the listen back, I realize the idea is either a.) stupid; or b.) I was completely full of shit. Another 1.5% of the time, I’ll take the rough idea and mold it into a post. The final .5% of the time I’ll just directly transcribe the audio to form the post, which is the case here. This is my way of saying, warning: if this post comes across as unhinged and rambling, that’s because it is. It’s a transcription of me, pacing the deck in my backyard, gesturing and babbling while my dog looks at me funny from time to time.

Why not just post the audio you say? Well, because that  sounds even worse, and truth be told, I do edit the transcription a little to edit out some of the swearing and sputtering, else the swear words would probably outnumber the decent ones. I’ve left select ones in for emphasis.

So if meaningless screeds are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Fill yer boots.


So, I’m thinking about this as I go into the ‘corner store’, the convenience store, the ‘gas ‘n’ sip’, to get my Jones root beer – which has a picture of a cat in a toilet on it – and my Reeses’ Big Cup, which is a normal Reeses’ peanut butter cup that actually has Reeses’ Pieces shoved inside the Reeses’ peanut butter cup, you know, because just one peanut butter cup isn’t enough, you gotta have more candy inside a candy, and I’m getting this because, let’s be honest, I’m fucking addicted to junk food, and, um, I can’t even figure out where, or why it started or what happened or where my diet went to shit, now it’s just a constant daily struggle to try and eat right and fucking succeed and fail and succeed and fail and succeed and fail and try and be fucking zen about the whole thing – but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

So  I go into the ‘corner store’ – and I think about this all the time – if an alien species came and looked at us they’d say,

“well, what are they doing? – well, they’ve got these little ‘stations’ set up everywhere – sometimes within blocks of each other – and these stations do 2 things: first of all, they fill their vehicles from these stations with this fuel that’s simultaneously destroying the planet and also enabling them to drive around these vehicles that destroy the planet and, second,  while they’re in there, they buy this crap that they eat that ruins their health. “

-The Aliens

I mean, think about it, you go into these ‘convenience stores’ and, except for the three, weird-looking, bananas they put there as the token health food, there is nothing in these stores of any nutritional value. Except water. Maybe water. And yet we are constantly in and out of there, we are constantly buying this stuff, we are constantly putting it into our bodies and fucking ourselves up and it’s just this perpetual cycle.

And so, if you look at it from an outsider’s standpoint, we – you know – it’s just the stupidest fucking thing we can do. And, I don’t understand – I’m ‘friends’ with the guys that work at the store near me – they know me by name (presumably because I’m consistently in there, ‘fucking myself up’), “Hey how’s it going…” –  how does it feel to be these guys that are the merchants of this stuff, they’re making a living off this stuff. It’s like, “hey, here’s this crap – you know – that stuff’s really terrible for you, let me sell that to you.” And have no compunction about that.

And, like, I mean, it’s not their fault, they’re just making a living, but how did we get to this point as a society where we have like, literally, stations set up everywhere, where you can go in and, in one fell swoop you can fuck up the planet and fuck up your health at the same time.

I mean, wow. If only we could get that efficient about the opposite. It seems like a no-brainer. But instead of setting up a system whereby we could stop in at someplace and improve the planet and improve our health in one go – how come there’s no gas stations that just sell nothing but healthy food – or maybe there is somewhere – I don’t know, I haven’t been to every gas station around, but I’ve been to what would seem, a lot in my lifetime, for one person. Think for a second about how many different gas stations you’ve been at in your life. Let that sink in.

Yeah. Man. But I’m the same, I’m just locked in to that same pattern, just like everybody else, I just keep doing it. And keep going. I mean, I’ll go a day or two, and get gas, and not buy anything at these stores, but then eventually again, there’s the freakin’ candy and the soda talkin’ to me and I cave….

I mean, nobody talks about that – we talk about addictions – we talk about addictions to drugs and alcohol, I mean how is this any different – if this was just a store where you went in and crack was on display there for sale – people would say, “You can’t do that, this is bad” – but here’s a store that’s just stocked to the gills with what a huge majority of the people on the planet now – ostensibly – are struggling with – and that is diet, health, obesity – and these things are just there, and it’s like ‘regular ol, day in – day out’. Stop for the gas. Get my junk. I’m on my way. Have a nice day everybody! Go fuck yourself!


A few notes. First off, if you’ve ever tried to transcribe any sort of audio diatribe or speech, and you think you’ve gotten the punctuation right – you’re wrong. All convention goes out the window. You’d be hard pressed to form textbook ‘sentences’. There’s also something that can’t be transferred from the audio – the delivery, the tone. You’d be hard pressed to get that bang on.

Second, I realize in transcribing this – that it comes across as me saying this is an issue for everyone – it’s not. I know there are folks out there who don’t have this problem, and I know there’s folks in third-world countries who don’t have any food, never mind worries about eating too many chili-dogs at the 7-11. I know this. Don’t comment or write me letters. I know there’s people out there that do get it though, and I realize there are entire industries out there – who may have started with the best of intentions – but have now gone far astray of any moral or ethical culpability with regards to their products and the effects on their consumers. They are about dollars – nothing else – even at the expense of the lives of the very people they require to consume their product.

The discussion to be had is how to get off the treadmill. How do we as a society break free from the cycle, and the normalization of these types of behaviors, especially when there is a whole component of industry with extensive means determined to keep people locked in that cycle as grist for the mill.

Today’s mojo

Today’s mojo: I just read an article over on tinybuddha.com titled, “Don’t Forget to Appreciate How Far You’ve Come”. It’s a good read if you’re so inclined.

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I’m guilty of this. I get focused on ‘The Plan’, forward momentum and goals, and the fact that I’m not necessarily meeting them or following ‘The Plan’.

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Taking a minute to realize what I have accomplished and goals I’ve met in the last 3 years, year, month – even down to the week or day – is a positive and affirming exercise and reminds me that everything isn’t going to go to plan, but if I stay focused and present, I can get things done and good things will happen. 

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Part of the trick is not being hung up on whether or not they’re good things I’ve planned or not.

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For example last winter I put 324 kms on the trainer, this winter, over 1500.

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You’ve done some things right, or you wouldn’t be here. It’s important to acknowledge that from time to time.

Intensity

So got an email in my inbox the other day announcing some new NIN live shows. Always a surprise to get an email from NIN. I joined the newsletter years ago and they only send out a note when there’s shows or new music. No spam. No 5 posts a week. That’s newslettering done right – but I digress, perhaps a separate post on that.

Although I regrettably can’t attend any of the live shows announced – they’re in Europe, and I’m far too old for these type of shenanigans – it did get me thinking about NIN live shows and a series of fantastic ‘from the stage’ videos shot some years back by band member and long-time art director* Rob Sheridan. These are great clips, and just as advertised, gives you the feel of standing right there on the stage. No gimmicks. No editing, just performance.

And that’s what’s striking. The intensity of the performance. Trent is intense. These cats are intense. Anyone who knows anything about Trent and NIN knows he’s a pretty intense guy. His performances and lyric matter are cathartic.

Then something occurred to me. When was last time I did something that intensely?

Don’t mistake intensity for anger, angst, rage. Intensity can apply to other emotions and situations. I think we most often associate it with violence or extremes of physicality or action, but it can manifest in other ways as well.

in·ten·si·ty
inˈtensədē
noun: intensity; plural noun: intensities
1. the quality of being intense.

in·tense
inˈtens
adjective: intense; comparative adjective: intenser; superlative adjective: intensest
1. of extreme force, degree, or strength.
“the job demands intense concentration”
synonyms: extreme, great, acute, fierce, severe, high;
(of an action) highly concentrated.
“a phase of intense activity”
synonyms: extreme, great, acute, fierce, severe, high;
2. having or showing strong feelings or opinions; extremely earnest or serious.
“an intense young woman, passionate about her art”
synonyms: passionate, impassioned, ardent, fervent, zealous, vehement, fiery, emotional;

I started to think about when most average people (say, non-superstar musicians) could act or behave with Trent’s level of intensity. Is it even called for in daily life? Should we be more intense at times?

Can we think intensely – would that be considered meditation?

Can we parent intensely?

Can we apply a similar kind of intensity to our job? The daily grind?

I was thinking perhaps I exercise intensely. Sometimes though I’m still thinking about other things. Intensity seems to imply singular focus. Sometimes exercise seems passive. I’m riding the trainer or on a bike ride and I’m suffering. That seems more like it’s something being done to me, or I’m struggling through it vs. me directing intensity at something or acting with intensity.

Do we need more intensity in our lives? Does it make sense if you make your living pumping gas that if you tried to be more intense about it, you would be better at your job? Happier?

Or is it something that only applies more where we often see it – to creative activity or performance. Sports. Physical activities. Do we feel like only artists, musicians or athletes can be intense. Is this because primarily we see these activities as emotional, tied to or expressing emotion, or perhaps because they might be extremely difficult.

Can you be an intense garbage man? Would it matter? You career is in some ways your life – should you do it with more intensity?

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*band member and art director for NIN - I can think of a lot worse gigs one could get.