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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Communic8ing (Again, Still)

What would you do if you knew someone - perhaps - as well as any human can know another, understood him deeply . . . lost contact for 30 years and then knew him again? I wonder how few people have ever been in a position to be presented with this "what would you do if . . . "?

I can only tell what I did. What we did. So I know what I'd do. Because I did it. We did it. We started filling in holes. We closed up gaps. We talked, we wrote. We filled the open spaces with words. For years. And still today. We told most of our stories more than once. Some were presented the same way each time. Some were colored differently with later tellings. We shared our lives so well that I can tell his stories and he can tell mine. We can name the players in the other's story and we know whether it was in San Diego or Riverton, Las Vegas or Ft. Collins.

We talked of the death of the youngest Badger earlier in the year we re-met. The Badger was still reeling, months after being shot in the street while riding his bike. I told of 20 years of infertility and then the shocking appearance of my miracle daughter. He told me about his father's death. The Badger was the last to see him alive and the first to see him dead. I went on forever about my shock that my 32-year marriage ended. I was the most married person in the world. Until I wasn't. He spoke of marriages and relationships.

We talked in the desert camping, on the beach while vacationing, in the car going wherever, on the long walks we took together each and every day. We could each return the other to a topic by pointing to some mile- marker: "When you were at CSU and getting ready to go to Wyoming . . . .". "Limes, when your dad and Londa had the art gallery . . . . " And we each knew the other well enough to interrupt occasionally with, "How badly did that hurt you?" or "I bet you cried." or "You probably couldn't have kept a straight face!" or "I know that made you go off."

We talked about lighter things, too. We found we were still drawn to the same music and like to explore new music in the same genre. I babbled about all things British. The Badger mentioned bicycles. "Bicycles?" He speaks of a time when his prowess on the bicycle meant drinking Spanada, being lonely, riding a banger bike at Redondo Beach and crashing into trash cans. But he'd fine tuned his bicycle experience in the ensuing decades, it seems.

Those who read me understand that a huge theme in my person is "connecting with others". I do that. The purpose of today's piece is to say that I connected so well with another about bicycles, that I've almost had the experiences myself. I'm a damned good listener. I know how to learn and retain new things. This "bicycles" thing was being shared with someone I understand and value emotionally. I am a sponge - I absorbed it all.

The evidence is that I learned, over time, that that big, ugly, old metal thing was a wheelstand. I came to know what 53:11 meant. I found that the burly dude on a really expensive bike wearing a wife-beater instead of a jersey . . . offended the cyclist as much as he offended me. I learned about DZ Nuts and its purpose. I inspected some and agreed that Rapha garments are the best goods the world has to offer. I remember every move of every race, and I actually understand the categories and rankings of cycling races. I can spot a Cervelo at 500 yards. Although it was hard for me, I learned to spot the Badger in the middle of a smoking criterium. The other cyclists I waved at before I really had him spotted may have thought I was flirting . . . . And I know the finer points of a truly technical descent.

The man generously shared his passion for cycling with me. I generously took it in because it was clearly so important to him. I watched him ride a stationary bike indoors for years when he became so dejected about the mean streets and the mean people in them. I watched him stick his nose back out into the sunlight. I watched him race at Skull Valley and I knew what I was witnessing. I've watched him soar over the past year, moving ahead in leaps and bounds, defying his fears, crushing the negative self-thoughts that were his adversaries. I'll watch him race at Skull Valley this weekend. I'll understand what I see there. You see, I may look like some old regular Jane, but there's an argument to be made that I am a pretty good support team all by myself.

In my ears right now: I refuse to say "Bicycle Built for Two". So what's truly in my ears right now is the best old standby: REM, Losing My Religion.

Something that charmed me: I've been "interviewing" the Badger for this series of posts about his riding and races. This morning he pointed out the irony that in 1980, the year he could have gone to the Olympics to ride, the U.S. pulled out of the Games in protest of Russia invading Afghanistan. In 2009, well . . . . irony is like that.


  1. The funny thing about irony is that when it lands on your foot, it still feels like iron!

  2. I wonder if the effects of that are worse when it occurs behind the Iron Curtain?

  3. Very good question! How to determine whether one is behind a curtain or in front of the curtain?

    I'll have to ponder that, Old Ironsides.