Whether I’m on my bike or not, the search for meaning — what it is or where it can be found, consumes much of my thinking time.
The truth be told, I’m as certain about meaning as I am about anything, that I know exactly were it can be found. Meaning sits alongside perfection and enlightenment, and it’s over yonder, on the other side of the chickenwire. More on that in a minute.
The two words that strike me most when I contemplate meaning, are work and relationships. Fundamentally, I believe if my largest priority each day is to complete a good day’s work, and in the process of doing so, protect and nurture my human relationships — as well as my animal relationships, that puts me in the best possible position to find meaning.
Seems pretty straight forward and should be pretty easy to attain, but for all the distractions.
Of course the large distraction of self, and all the little distractions that come attached to self, are like 3 layers of chickenwire separating me from meaning. I can see meaning and I know it’s there, but every time I reach for it, the chickenwire keeps me from knowing it completely.
Through the years, I’ve gotten good with experiencing intermittent tastes of and steady glimpses of meaning. After all, through the chickenwire I can still smell, taste, see, and even feel meaning in small doses. Still, I’m a prisoner to my self if not of myself.
The older I get though, the more visceral my desire to remove the chickenwire gets. Also the older I get, the more dependent I have become on the little gratifications of self that make up the chickenwire. A strong desire to remove the chicken wire, while simultaneously needing it more than ever — that is the conflict that consumes me.
Those gratifications, by the way, are not necessarily material things. In fact, I live a pretty minimalistic life, the ever increasing heard of bicycles not withstanding. My gratifications come from alone time, the simple amusement of books and music, and the physical activity that serves as a metronome to my brain, keeping it working in proper time.
Back to work and relationships…
I am much better at one that I am at the other.
I’m fortunate that I am involved in a line of work that I know well, and I’m able to do it on behalf of people who allow me a great deal of trust and latitude. In that sense, I get to the other side of the chicken wire a half-dozen times each day. When I am working, I am immersed in meaning. People pay me for a service and I attempted to give them every bit of value I can for that service. Most days end in the net-positive for my clients.
Relationships though, are where I fail to find meaning, and I fail daily. It’s not that I’m not committed or that I don’t work hard at them, it’s just that very often I put the chickenwire first — especially when it comes to my friendships. I return calls and texts casually. I remember birthdays infrequently. Though I do listen attentively when called upon by friends, I do a lot less reaching out to my friends than they do to me. I hate that about me, by the way, I really do.
Given a choice between reading the latest book by Robert Wright or joining friends for an evening of dinner, live music, or both, I’ll take the chickenwire — ehr, the book every time.
In my morning contemplation, among the first things I remind myself to do is to work harder at my friendships. This usually breaks down by about 730 or 8AM. I love my friends, but do I really want to put them ahead of the latest album by the Waterboys or today’s bike ride…? Of course not. Still, I do it regularly.
Back to meaning…
In those instances when I am torn, but when I choose lunch with a friend over the new Waterboys album, I may feel frustration and even some resentment at the time. However, when I crawl into bed at night, I am glad I chose friend over the dopamine loop. I ask myself, why don’t I spend more time with friends and less time building chickenwire fences…?
Of course the answer to that can be found in balance — something I strive for daily and am terrible at.
Tomorrow’s a new day. I know where I can find meaning, just like I know where I can find perfection and enlightenment. When I wake up, I will be in hot pursuit of all three, and then it will be time for breakfast — and I will blow it again.
This is what I think about one I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
New Bikes Purchased: 1. It will be here Tuesday.
Bikes Ridden: 4
15.7 mph avg
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from David Johansen. Enjoy…!
6 thoughts on “The Fence Between Meaning And Me…”
Somewhere between the pre-human brain and the human brain the source of all our problems was born. The pre-human brain was functionally perfect, everything running in clear unquestioning harmony. The human brain became too complicated and thereby less the smooth running machine and more the disruptive, chaotic mess that corrupts every area of our existence. That is what I think about when I read your thoughts 🙂
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I once to told a client, a federal judge, that the highest destiny of man on earth was hunter-gatherer societies, and then it all went downhill from there. He scoffed, but I’m certain, he never forgot me saying that.
Whether or not I think that’s true today, I’m not sure, but I chew on it every day.
Thank you, Doc, for taking the time!
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You talk of the plight of the introvert! I love people, truly … but I am also fine to not talk to anyone for days at a time. And every single social event requires an internal pep talk. I am always, ALWAYS glad to have gone, but the getting there is tough. You know more of yourself than others know of themselves – chicken wire looks different in different contexts … Perhaps the question really is, “What does true connection with yourself, others, and the world look like? Feel like?” The answer to this might actually require some chicken wire …
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Food for thought from you, as is usually the case. I think you and I have a very similar personalities and social sensibilities that are just as similar.
I cover my alone time, because I get so little of it. I would’ve been a bad hunter-gatherer for my lack of alone time. And that’s kind of where my head goes here — that as we continue to evolve, we evolve away from other people. And in a complex world that makes sense, but it also makes me sad, quite often, that I usually prefer being alone.
Understanding your balance with work and family. We have texted,and talked about it. I feel you man each time I read your words. We all get too busy and have to remind ourselves to cut through the chicken wire. My old man got on me about getting to busy as I climbed the corporate ladder. Telling me ” Remember your roots,remember where you came from,remember you family and friends.” This Spoke and Word reminds me of that. And ironically how I too serve people with the work that I do,however shut the door as a recluse. I’ve shut off other social media,but kept this line open to receive this.Thank You again for your words. Sincerely..
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Thank you for taking the time, brother Brian! I’m not making this up, I mean that, you’ve told me that story about your dad before, and it resonates with me pretty regularly.
Out there on my bike every day, I think — when I get home I’m gonna give Brian a yell. Then I return, give my mom lunch, return my email, and I’ve got five minutes left before the next client shows up — and all I wanna do is hide. I know that makes me a sad friend but I also know this phase of my life won’t last forever.
Thank you for knowing me and liking me anyway.