Work, Relationships, And Creativity…

Why are we here, and what do we get in exchange for being human…? That’s the two-part question that consumes me all day, every day. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who worries about it. When I look around though, I sometimes feel like others don’t worry about it quite enough.

When I think of purpose and meaning, I don’t necessarily look for answers in faith or religion. I think faith and religion make a great framework — can offer useful guidelines in the search, but in finding purpose and meaning, I default to the three primary aspects that I think make me human…

– Work
– Relationships
– Creativity

I don’t see a need to look beyond those three. To be fully human, for me, can be found in maximizing these aspects of my life. And like a three-legged stool or three equal branches of a government, I encourage the three to work together, on behalf of a more complete whole.

On Work…

Work is what I am are here for. I may be capable of, and I certainly may find enjoyment in what I do beyond work, but contributing to the whole of the machine is where it all begins. I can’t imagine not working. That’s not to say I enjoy every moment of my workday, though I’m grateful to do what I get to do for a living. I would rather flip burgers though, than to collect disability or unemployment without a legitimate need to. To not work when one is able, puts a greater strain on the system and all its other contributors, however so slight.

In the picture, all those slights add up.

I don’t say this in reference to people who have worked hard and been able to retire. They have earned their downtime. People who find reasons not to work though, that are not legitimate reasons, lose an entire aspect of being human — they lose one leg off their stool. Just my opinion.

 

On Relationships…

From the checker at the grocery store, to the person on the other side of the fence, to the elderly mother I share my home with, all human connections are relationships. Some are brief — the man whose bike has a flat tire that I offer to help on the trail.  Some relationships are occasional — the checker at the grocery store who I make small talk with a few times a week. Others still are ongoing — the clients who trust me with their time and money in exchange for my leadership and advice. Every person I interact with each day is a kind of relationship. I can’t imagine not working to maximize and promote every person I connect with each day, from the ones I connect with and may never see again, to the ones I will engage with over and over again.

How hard is it, I often ask myself, to try and keep my interactions positive and uplifting, even when facing difficult circumstances…? Confrontation begets frustration, which too often leads escalation.  On a given day, my mood is forged as much from my human interactions as from anything I do or any outside circumstance. The more effort I put into keeping those interactions positive, the more likely I am to be in a better mood, though I acknowledge that those outside influences can alter a good mood quickly. That’s all the more reason to keep my human interactions positive.

 

On Creativity…

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of young people through the years, both professionally and peripherally through acts of volunteering. More than a few teenagers have felt my index finger pushing into their sternum as I’ve forcefully uttered the following sentiment…

Above all things, we are here for work and for relationships.

I’ve said it dozens of times through the years, to dozens of teens. There’s always some critical moment in the course a relationship with a teen when I’ve pulled that ace from my sleeve and dropped on them to their surprise. In hindsight, I have failed all of them by failing to mention creativity as an equal branch of self-government.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I received a book in the mail from my friend Judy. A workbook actually — a platform on which to draw, read, write stories, color, and reflect. One third of being human is being creative, I thought to myself. I have no memory of ever saying that to young person as I’ve driven home the importance of work and relationships. That won’t happen again. I’ll be quick to remind them that appreciating creativity — music, literature, art, and even well-made movies and television can be a creative outlet, but being creative is a necessary outlet.

Three equal branches of self-government…?

Three-legged stool of being human…?

Both are pretty cheesy analogies, I know. When it comes to finding purpose and meaning though, focusing my life on work, relationships, and creativity — and viewing them as having an equal influence in my life, has put me in better field position in finding fulfillment.

By the way, I didn’t necessarily write this for you. It could be that I wrote it for your children, your grandchildren, your neighbor’s children, or the kid who mows your lawn, so please feel free to share.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
168 miles
6,600’ climbing
15.3 mph avg speed
10,000 calories
10 hours 58 minutes seat time

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 Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne . Enjoy…!

Craving Decorum…

“Beginning with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, the occupant of the White House has become a combination of demigod, father figure and, inevitably, the betrayer of inflated hopes. Pope. Pop star. Scold. Scapegoat. Crisis manager. Commander in Chief. Agenda settler. Moral philosopher. Interpreter of the nation’s charisma. Object of veneration. And the butt of jokes. All rolled into one.”

Andrew Bacevich, from The Limits Of Power

I think we could superimpose that statement on our expectations of any would-be successor to the president, even if it’s too late for the current president.

Let the arguments begin.

How hard is it, I ask myself multiple times each day, to just bow out of an argument for the sake of our nation’s health…? Arguments today, especially those within social media platforms, are incredibly superficial, waste time, waste energy, frequently alter moods to a lesser state, and accomplish absolutely nothing except to fulfill the immature need for self-gratification among the craving participants.

Craving…? Craving attention. Craving stimulation. Craving fulfillment. Craving superiority. Craving to stir the pot. Craving craving craving. Increasingly, many crave arguing in the same way they crave sugar.

Argument, in that frame, is the Type II diabetes of our national health.

Within and between my social media connections, at least when it comes to politics, I’m usually the quiet one and argue little or not at all, in the same way I’m the one who passes on dessert at the end of a meal or goes for the asparagus before I go for the potatoes.

Decorum, I reckon, is the insulin of this increasing national health crisis.

I did a search recently, of how many times I used the word decorum in my writings, going back about 15 years. Since 2003, between my social media outlets and my personal writing, I’ve used the word decorum approximately 120 times. Apparently I’m big on the word, as well as the idea it represents.

Decorum, it seems, has gone the way of sensible portions at meal time, and sensible snacks. Think about that — as meal portions were once more responsible, so too was how spoke to each other in matters of politics and government. Think Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan.

If one takes the “s” out of the word politics and changes it to politic, the word takes on a whole new meaning, and becomes an actual synonym for decorum. Conversely, if one puts an “s” politic, it begins to lack luster. Say that fast and you’ll see you where I’m going.

Practicing decorum, I’m learning in the social media era, is a lot like eating better. If everyone did it, our health as individuals would improve, and so too would our collective health as a nation. Like with good eating though, most people know this, yet few choose to practice it.

As it shouldn’t be that hard to mix in a vegetable a couple times a day, it shouldn’t be that hard to say “Okay friend, now it’s your turn to speak and I’m going to listen“.

In that same light, stopping short of calling somebody a “pompous jerk” could be just as beneficial as stopping short of that second helpings ice cream.

If a career in fitness has taught me anything about culture, and the poorly motivated apes that drive culture, is that it’s easier, and on most levels probably feels much better, to get away with things we know are going to hurt us in the long run, as individuals and as a nation. With argument, we will tax our nation to a point of social diabetes.

This is what I think about when I ride…. Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 6
180 miles
7,200’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
10,100 calories
11 hours 41 minutes seat time

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 Marty Willson-Piper. Enjoy…!

Work Before Fun…

When a plate of food is set before me and there are multiple courses on it, though they may alll be appetizing, there’s always one that I will desire the least and one that I’ll be drawn to more than the others. Others might fall in-between. My mind quickly performs a kind of triage that rates the dishes from worst tasting to best tasting.

I’ll begin by eating, in it’s entirety, the one I find the least appetizing — lima beans for example. That will be followed by the next one up in my establish order, and so-on. By the time there is one food remaining on the plate, it will be the one that I most wanted. I will have earned my way from worst to best.

It’s not just foods I do this with.

My community of Fallbrook California is roughly 700-feet above sea level. Because the land here has a lot of contour, there are areas of Fallbrook which are higher and some valleys that are lower. On average though, we’re at 700-feet. For at least a portion of every bike ride, I leave Fallbrook for the neighboring communities of Bonsall and Oceanside, both of which are lower in elevation than Fallbrook.

 

South Mission Road is the downhill vein that leads me out of Fallbrook and into the lowlands. From my driveway, which sits well above the median point of Fallbrook of 700-feet, it’s roughly 7-miles of descent until I’m on highway 76 in Bonsall. That means the first significant portion of my daily ride is downhill — the best part of my meal first, when I would rather have it for dessert. Conversely, the lima beans of my ride, the 7-mile climb back into town, comes at the end. This is the precise opposite of how my mind works. I would rather start my rides with a hard 7-mile climb and finish with the downhill glide.

If I could change this about my ride I would.

One option I do have is to head north into Riverside County instead of further south into San Diego County. The problem there is one of mixed topography. Though cumulatively, heading north I begin by climbing, because of the mixed hills, I also end with a good deal of climbing, spelled only by short and steep descents. Although this is great for conditioning, it forces me to ride at a slower speed and I can’t gather the mileage that I prefer to.

I can’t help it, I’m just wired this way. When I was a kid, my dad assigned me weekly yard work — pulling weeds and mowing the lawn. I hated pulling the weeds, so I did that first. Mowing the lawn was the fun part, so I do that last.

Homework as a kid…? I got the math done first, so I could enjoy the history. I just like getting the hard stuff out of the way first. Even when I brush my teeth, I spend the first couple of minutes working on the hard to get to places, and finish by brushing the storefront — my pearly whites.

When I clean my studio each week, I dust first — getting into all the nooks and crannies, and only then do I get to clean the floor, which is my favorite part.

No matter what though, so long as I live in this house, my rides will always start easy and end with difficulty, despite that I prefer it the other way around. I’m not willing to go through the expense though, and hassle of relocating so I can better enjoy my rides. Well, not yet anyway.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
158 miles
6,100’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
9,100 calories

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 Orville Peck. Enjoy…!