“Sit down, shut up, and watch yourself for awhile, every single day until you figure out what the hell is going on – well, you’ll never figure out what the hell is going on by the way – just a hint to the wise, but that’s a better strategy than hitting someone up with my opinion on it, and taking a stand. My taking a stand is taking a sit – and you can join me by sitting here like this for awhile.”Brad Warner
One of the common misconceptions about certain types of meditation is that the ‘goal’ is to ‘empty your mind of all thought. The method is to find blank mind through a process of focusing on breath, i.e. the present moment. This is a VERY simplified description, but instagram only gives me 2200 characters, and I’ve got more to say, dig?
It is difficult to maintain this level of focus for long periods of time. Your thoughts scream in and totally screw shit up. Letting streams of thought that we would normally follow ad infinitum to pass and ’starting over’ with the breath/moment is the exercise. This repeated ‘restart’ action is the Practice itself and the skill you are trying to build.
We all have a Path we are on. I don’t mean this is the spiritual, mystical, voodoo sense, but in what we want to accomplish and how we strive to conduct ourselves in the World. Goals, habits to form or break, etc.
When you are meditating you break focus and start to think, to follow your thoughts down rabbit holes. The hardest part is not to chastise yourself: “Wow. I totally suck ass at this. I’m terrible.” Let those thoughts go, WITHOUT beating yourself up, and return to the moment. Starting over. And over. And over. And over.
We are ALL going to fuck up. I did. I got off my Path. Was eating like crap, not getting proper sleep – just generally not paying attention to what the hell I was doing. My cart was completely off the PATH.
We beat ourselves up, feel bad, ashamed, disappointed. And that’s what I was feeling. So – even though I thought I didn’t really want to – I went for a bike ride. That was the reset button. Returning from the ride, all the fuckups were history. I realized that I literally was no longer the same person who had made those mistakes. I had started over.
Thats how life rolls. You go through it and you screw up. We all have and we are all going to continue to do so. It is inevitable. It’s how you address these moments that will determine your level of satisfaction and contentment.
For now, I’m back on my Path. Until I fuck up again. Which I am 100% sure I will. And then I will simply start over.
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.
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.
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.