Monday, March 10, 2014
I remember an episode of Leave it to Beaver where The Beav (Jerry Mathers) started a diary. After a week he did a quick review to find that every entry showed the same activities:
Went to school.
Came back home.
His take was that he was boring and did the same old stuff every day. I think we all recognize the error in his analysis. Likewise I think we all applaud his additional response in seeking change. This could have been the episode where he got stuck in the steaming cup of soup billboard, I am not sure, but I do give him an A+ for effort. Kid was 12 or so and out looking for adventure and fun. Wally (Tony Dow) even tossed a backdoor compliment his way later that evening after Ward (Hugh Beaumont) read him a chapter from the responsibility guidebook.
I always liked The Beav's innocent wanderlust.
My point in all this black and white retrospect is this: I think it is good to be easily impressed. I know I am.
Maybe it's the mellowing and aging process, maybe it's refinement, appreciation of art, or quite possibly that last gram of compassion. I like seeing passion on parade. I love seeing others get after it. It of course being their dreams and goals. The art of putting perspective into play as one rips the present to, one day, shred the future. Seeing that the quality of this now is fully responsible for the manifestation of that now. I adore that innocent energy.
This morning I read this (James Shapiro): "If your mind is dirty you can run 10,000 miles, but where have your gotten? If you go for a one-mile run and you're passionately engaged with the world, who cares about the other 9,999?"
To call that profound would be understating like an Eddie Haskel (Ken Osmond) excuse.
To lasting impressions and profundities then, may they all be as bold as the Beav's. And Mr. Shapiro's.
Go to school.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Energy, drama and mission.
There is motion, conflict and our inherent need to see justice (or the American way) served.
The classic ingredients for a Hollywood chase scene. And more.
If you are looking to up your training game, if you have ever succumbed to ebbs of motivation, if you have ever been paralyzed by boredom while teaching your body and mind to work as a team, we might take a cue from Spielberg, Coppola, Mann, and Tarantino.
Ride it like you stole it.
Script in a chase scene. Add some high-octane to the mix. Author a dose of drama, create some evil to play off. Hollywood does all three. Elements of the chase.
Let's try one for practice and to illustrate the model.
Interior. Morning. A young man sits in front of a small TV. He is disheveled and listless. Next to him on the couch is a magazine. He opens it to a beautiful full color ad promoting a bike tour in France.
Close up of his face flashing a quick smile.
He drops the magazine and returns to his TV lethargy as a young female cyclist rides her bike along a stretch of highway. He immediately recognizes it as the Pacific Coast.
Close up of his face showing a spark of motivation.
He changes the channel with his remote. An ad for fast food appears.
He stands to look at himself in the mirror.
Close up as he presses lips, squints eyes shut, raises head upward and then opens then to reveal….commitment.
He has made the decision. To act. To chase this simple dream. He now has a goal. He has motivation. The Rocky theme plays somewhere in his head. He looks back in the mirror, sideways, and sucks in his gut.
Cut to indoor training facility. HE is there, among others, trying to get in shape. He is dying on the bike. BUT HE IS NOT GOING TO QUIT. This is the demon as enemy that chases him. The demon wants his soul, wants him to stop at Big Bubba's Burgers on the way home, wants him to sit and watch TV, wants him to quit.
The chase is on. He, his goals, the antagonist and the process of transformation. The hero's quest in a modern day setting. From couch potato to Highway 101 and eventually up the very hills that challenge the best riders in the world in the French Alps.
Will he get the girl? (Her boy friend is the team captain, and a Cat 1 jerk)
Stay tuned for part two. (INSERT COMMERCIAL HERE)
Saturday, March 8, 2014
In my ongoing attempt to master the obvious, a noble endeavor I find most challenging, the last few days have provided some rather interesting observations.
Which of course I will share with you.
Because that serves a number of purposes. One being my belief that the way to get better at anything is to do it often. Writing, like cycling, needs to be preformed on a regular basis in order to improve. I do this everyday. One day I hope to craft a piece that contains zero grammatical, syntactical or spelling errors. This is juxtaposed to the same idea in cycling where I long for one perfect ride. Indoors or out. Makes little difference, find the zone, hold it, execute flawlessly, stay present.
Is that obvious or something more esoterically subtle? I don't really know and I can't really tell.
Further, to me it makes no difference. The obvious is that good writing takes practice. The nuance is finding the answer to the 'how much' practice question. A chapter a day? A column per week? Three pages? One haiku? Do it, measure it and then manage it.
Same with cycling. Five hours with the team? A 90 minute spin class? Twice a week 2x20s? One Gran Fondo a year? 400 watts?
We could go on with this ad naseum. Workout your own salvation. Make some mistakes. Overtrain. Scribble notes to self until the cows return home. Challenge yourself to a higher standard. Above all, engage your compete self in the process. Enjoy the ride.
Nobody is holding a loaded revolver to your head demanding you write or ride. It is your decision. Your art. Your one chance at forging a life worth living. That sacred journey contains the effort of today. Make it count.
That is obvious isn't it?
For extra credit give me 300 words on riding a fixed gear bike 300 miles. Due Monday.
Friday, March 7, 2014
One of the nice things about life is that we get second chances.
Sometimes even thirds.
We all own a built-in edit feature that allows close examination of sentence structure as well as event results. We make qualitative value judgments and correct future action and intent to suit. We can literally change direction in the middle of the race, if we so choose. It is quite a beautiful thing actually.
We all know that an ill-advised adjective can ruin a crisp sentence as fast as a flat note can wreck a ballad.
That edit feature allows us the promise of a cleaner do-over. With practice and diligence we stand a decent chance, Vegas has it at 2-1, to improve our chances of success. Or simply survive. Use another descriptor and rehearse the proper pitch.
It was comical how many times I whiffed yesterday. It was an oh for five day at the plate. Not only did I K all five trips, I never even made contact. By nightfall my head was spinning faster than a shinny new top on Christmas morning, what's next? I kept thinking.
The sun rose this morning with a robin's-egg blue backdrop. The rains which had been beating with relentless staccato had finished their pluvial paradiddle. It was a new day.
And I am determined to do better. To practice more. To breathe deeper and relax with greater peace.
Thank you Lord for giving me another day.
I am better than that.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Could it be as simple as this? Pulling the trigger?
When I toiled in magazine marketing we had two distribution theories.
One we called the shotgun approach. We spread as many copies to as many retailers as we could.
The second we called the sniper approach, a very selective, but lower volume distribution to only those outlets that met our target demographic.
It came down to efficiency and mathematics. And therefore profit.
Our model, and hence its challenge, was to work hard enough to raise the margin to its greatest volume and achieve our best return.
I was tasked with managing that campaign, and took great joy in seeing increases in sell-through percentage as well as bottom line profits.
The same principal seems to be true today.
We could all use a little more efficiency. We could all tighten up, clean the edges. Quit trying to sell retirement ideas to skateboarders. The big question, especially in fitness, competition and training, is exactly, how.
Fine tuning the sights on the high powered rifle of life, I will suggest that structure plays an important role. Precision and calibration.
What do you want?
If you feel, as we do, that your threshold power on the bike is a thing of importance, do something today that will result in its improvement.
Structure your time. Etch in marble two days a week specifically to enhance your power.
The shotgun approach would be saying "I want to get faster".
The sniper will focus on the target of specific, measured, structured and proven ways to improve.
Could be as easy as pulling the trigger.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Salvage what you can. Protect the primary. Take the first watch and the last. In between hone, practice and refine.
What do I reference?
Consider your commerce. The ways and means that you provide.
Consider your mind. Intellectual curiosity is a wonderful thing at any level. From a crossword puzzle to the special relativity theory, there awaits the time and space for your input. Or your commentary. Or your questions.
Consider your spirit. Who do your think you are? What do you think you are? Who is really in charge here? What is the meaning? What is fairness, justice, love? Who were Jesus, Buddha and Allah? How important is happiness? How does your heart match up with the state of compassion the size of Montana?
Consider your body. Are we healthy? Do we have adequate speed, strength, flexibility and endurance? Do we rest and recover well? Do we have sufficient energy to do those things that fill our sails with joy? Do we manage our myriad stress' appropriately?
Consider your purpose. Why are we here doing all of this, now? Is this our calling of truth? Is there passion and commitment? IS IT WORKING? As mentioned yesterday, will you suffer some for your art?
Consider that your art could be the sum of all the above. You are your art. You are an artist. You have the power to create.
So when the sky seems to be raining toxic debris with unrelenting ire, salvage what your can, don your hard hat and soldier on.
It's the only way. Keep moving. Snarl a little if you have to, but you will, you must, get through,
And the sun will shine in your backyard someday.
I guarantee it.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
You know I am big on effort. I would much rather lose a game (race, event, competition) knowing that I gave 100% than win (sometimes as my teammates overachieved to compensate for my inadequacies).
You know that right?
Is it the same for you?
Because if it isn't we need to have a little chat.
Or maybe the meeting that will free you to explore the part of the universe that we call, innocently, mysterious.
Here, the mystery is revealed.
Please be advised that the following disclaimer will change everything.
Because you will know the truth. Because that truth is more powerful than anything you can imagine. It makes nuclear energy look like fossil fuel. And then you will have the awesome responsibility to put that knowledge into play. To forge that knowledge to wisdom.
I will give it to you straight.
You need to give all you got and assume the risk of failure. Simple, no?
Train smart (smarter), train hard (harder), train with focus (more), dedication (more), camaraderie, grace and determination (more, more and more). And to balance, with LESS fear.
And then do it again. This is so easy. Elementary, I can almost hear Sherlock say.
Keep doing it until one glorious day you awake to find that it has become a part of you. You have trained it so. It has shaped you, cut you, chiseled you and toned you. Maybe not all physical, outward, but perhaps more importantly, internal, emotionally and with the shining grace that comes only from the confidence born of experience and suffering.
AND IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE HOW YOU FINISH, IT'S HOW YOU PROGRESS. Are we fucking clear on that?
One can lose all power, speed, prowess and remain a champion.
The energy you take is equal to the energy you make.
I will leave you with this one from a true champion. Not an athlete but an actor. He said, "It's just as painful to do something well as it is to do it not well."
Or as one co-actor said of him, "He went to war for his art."
Will you fight a little for yours?