Different Rivers

When I moved here in 2006 I discovered there were two options for a commuting route from my house, both about 15km one-way. One was on the road, the other, almost entirely on converted rail-to-trail. My policy has always been and continues to be to avoid slicing and dicing with grumpy morning folks trapped in confined metal boxes, so whenever possible, the trail it is.

Up until 2010, my commute to work took me across two rivers, The Nashwaak and the St. John. After 2010, I changed jobs and now work on the north side of the St. John, so only cross the Nashwaak each trip. I used to keep track of my rides and mileage and all that but have stopped bothering. So, subtracting weekends, holidays, weather, sleep-in’s and other misses and adding back in various market trips, rides for coffee and group rides, I’d say conservatively on average I’ve commuted or ridden this route 150 times a year (each way, so 300 total) – at some point during every season and kind of weather you can conjure.*

Some dude, wiser than I, many seasons ago, once observed that “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Well then it must also apply that a man can’t CROSS the same river twice either.

Doing the fancy math that accounts for both jobs, that means approximately 5,100 different rivers crossed for this cat in 13 years. And I probably have at least half that many pictures clogging up the internet and cloud storage to prove it.

The thing is, they are truly different. Every. Time. Which is why I almost always stop. And while I didn’t always stop, make coffee, eat home made granola with chocolate milk and watch the sun come up on Fredericton across the St. John while tons of ducks do whatever it is ducks do in the morning – I have been quite a bit recently. If I had my druthers (and I don’t know what a ‘druther’ is – or why anyone would want one) I’d just ride my bike around rivers drinking coffee all day, but like so many of you, I have to go to work. I’m pretty sure though, that if one HAS to go to work, I may have stumbled onto the absolute best way to do it. Even without coffee and snacks.

*That’s also roughly 58,500km of commuting for those playing along at home. Also, there’s not enough space here to discuss how I have changed as a man, so don’t ask.

Reasons to be Cheerful

“News for when you’ve had too much news.”

Reasons to be Cheerful is a non-profit online editorial project that is tonic for tumultuous times. 

We tell stories that reveal that there are, in fact, a surprising number of reasons to feel cheerful. Many of these reasons come in the form of smart, proven, replicable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. We’re here to tell you about some of them. Through sharp reporting, our stories balance a sense of healthy optimism with journalistic rigor, and find cause for hope. We are part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world.

Reasons to be Cheerful was founded by artist and musician David Byrne, who believes in the power of approaching the world with curiosity—in art, in music, in collaboration and in life. Under the banner of Byrne’s Arbutus Foundation, Reasons to be Cheerful embodies this sensibility, applying it now to the future of our world. Through stories of hope, rooted in evidence, Reasons to be Cheerful aims to inspire us all to be curious about how the world can be better, and to ask ourselves how we can be part of that change.

David Byrne to the rescue again. “Same as it ever was.”

Good Luck With Your Efforts

Surly Disc Trucker

I took a little break from the internet space for awhile. Did some things. A lot of sitting and reading. Quite a bit of just sitting. It occurred to me that The Walrus was right. “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” Read: we are all connected, we are all one.

My friend Amy – she of the mighty movement and art mojo – talks about movement as art. How we conduct ourselves through space is artistic expression. Walking. Lifting heavy objects. Waving hello. She spoke once of a bike ride being a piece of artwork. How you pick something up is art. How you pet your dog. We are all creating as we move through space and time.

I like that idea. That’s very nice, but I have a bit of bad news. The Universe doesn’t give a shit about you (or me) or our art. In the Grand Scheme of Things (not to be confused with the Internet of Things, which doesn’t care about you either, but just wants to know what you’re doing every waking moment for marketing purposes), you don’t matter. As a species en masse, we conduct ourselves daily as if we – individually and collectively – do matter. A considerable problem. If we don’t matter either collectively or individually, what does?

I’m here to say your effort. You are insignificant, but your effort isn’t. If we are all connected, our individual efforts all have impact on the whole. Good effort. Meaningful effort. Sincere effort. Compassionate effort. The Buddha called it Right Effort, but he doesn’t really matter either – his effort does.

What’s this got to do with me being back on the Internets? Well there’s quite a few folks on here who’s efforts I missed connecting with. And I also missed sharing some creations, some experiments, some art with other people, and this was a somewhat tolerable place to do that. I don’t wish to be ‘influenced’, I wish to be inspired. I want to share, but currently that word has been hijacked and sullied. It makes people cringe. People share ‘content’. Let’s say I want to enlighten. My friend Andrew said that I should. That it would be a good thing – that regardless of the outcome it would be an effort worth making. So here we are. Good luck with your efforts.

When Good Intentions Go Bad

https://fs.blog/jonathan-haidt/

Great stuff here from Shane Parrish over at Farnham Street on The Knowledge Project podcast. I’ve posted stuff before in relation to Jonathan Haidt and he continues to be full of insight and useful information. I’ll post a few standouts here, but the whole thing is really worth a listen – I can’t transcribe all the worthwhile commentary:

Some people have sent me quotes from ancient Greece, where they complained about the kids today and how they don’t respect their elders, and things like that. So partly, it is a constant generational thing. But the reason why Greg Lukianoff and I think that this is so different is because, never before have the mental health statistics just gone haywire for generations so quickly. So, whatever we’re doing, kids born after 1995 have really high rates of anxiety, depression, self harm, and suicide.”

As a parent – this should be a required listen. It’s at turns informative and terrifying if you let it be, but ultimately empowering.

I’m realizing that, in some ways, I have missed the boat a bit with my older two kids and I’m almost too late with the younger two, but there’s still value and ideas to be gleaned from this discussion. I wish I’d had this podcast – and Haidt’s insights in general – like, 6-8 years ago – but, if you listen, you’ll realize that in many ways we as a society and as parents had no way of knowing then the way the internet and social media would effect kids and their mental health, it was simply new, uncharted territory.

Any parents who are listening to this podcast, I urge you to follow a few simple rules. That is, two hours a day of screen time, not counting homework. And no social media until high school, and lots of free play outside. Let your kids out, especially by the age of seven or eight. Let them out to have unsupervised time with other kids, in a place that’s physically safe.”

These seem like, “well, duh” type revelations, but speaking from experience, I know I got very much caught up in the tendency and social pressures to over protect and shelter kids – with the best of intentions – versus how my generation was raised.

If you can imagine growing up, where in your teen years you’re always self censoring, you’re always careful, we think this is what’s happening. This is what many students tell us it’s like. They often just accept it as normal, because that’s all they’ve known. And this means we might have a generation that’s afraid to take risks, afraid to play with ideas. Afraid to challenge dominant ideas. It’s going to lead to a lot more conformity, a lot less creativity.

And much more great discussion here on learning the importance of how to disagree with people, how to engage with those you disagree with and the importance of surrounding yourself with people you disagree with and expose yourself to ideas that you might not like in order to grow as an individual which in turn makes you more of a benefit to society as a whole.

Exposing Truth on the Breakfast Loop

Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge, Fredericton, New Brunswick

So couldn’t ride the bike to work today because, reasons, but did end up getting to work super early so decided to roll a Breakfast Loop. First one ever, I believe.

Fate does silly things. Came across this block on the sidewalk crossing the Westmorland Street bridge:

Sidewalk Psychology 101.

“Expose a truth about yourself…Vulnerability is Healthy!”

Ok then. Here goes: “I know there are aspects of parenting I’m failing at.”

Whoah. Pretty heavy for this early in the morning. Instead, here’s a bonus truth to lighten the mood:

“I have no known natural defenses against Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups”

Ok, session’s over. Make your next appointment with the secretary on the way out.