Patterns: Trees

There are often seem to be patterns in our lives, almost as if there is a theme that acts as a steady underground river that only bubbles to the surface occasionally but is really always there. I know that this is really just seeing patterns in the everyday fuzz of life but I don’t think that really matters, at least not for my purpose. Recognizing the patterns can be a source of focus and inspiration, it can be a muse.

One major one at this point in my life is the tree. It started right before Burning Man when I was thinking about my name and how the meaning “rock” didn’t really feel right anymore and I liked the idea of being a tree (more on this in my first blog post). After that the image of a tree has seemed to flow in and out of my life… a card from a friend with a tree on it, my yoga mat (which I didn’t see the tree until unrolling it the first time), and more recently a yoga session where we were instructed to focus on one of two chakras, the Third Eye or the Heart.

I decided on the Heart because of it represents, in part, compassion and equilibrium, both concepts of some importance to me. So, as the meditation session began I focused my thoughts on the Heart Chakra (Anahata). Even if you don’t subscribe to a Buddhist or Hindu philosophy there is great value in focusing on a single instance during meditation to remove external distractions. When I got home I was curious about the concepts of chakras so I looked it up online and found out that the Anahata is traditionally green and below it is the Hrit, or wish-giving tree.

Another tree.

Well today, I was talking to one of my dearest friends and my go-to person on all things artistic. I mentioned to her that when I finish yoga I always feel an urge to paint or draw, even though I have never really been an artistic person. I told her that I wish I had a way to explore that side of me before I leave and she simply told me to bring paints with me and paint whatever comes to mind on the trees where I stop. Brilliant.

So, I’m totally going to paint on trees and take pictures of it as I travel across the country. Maybe there is even a way I can tag latitude/longitude to it and put those up on the web as I go. I’m kind of excited about this.

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On Sex

At a party this last weekend I made a statement about sex that I have made many times before, but, like most quick statements at a party, there really wasn’t an opportunity to thoroughly explain my point of view. The statement I made was, “To me, sex is like skydiving. It’s a lot of fun and as long as the proper safety equipment is being used it doesn’t matter if you do it with friends, strangers, a significant other, or alone”. I would like to tweak that statement a bit to include “open communication and everyone involved is a coherent adult”.

These three issues (safety, communication, and coherence) are really at the heart of sex in today’s age. We live in a time when sex can be removed from child-rearing and viewed in many forms but problems can develop. I believe that as long as the three issues are addressed the majority of problems can be avoided. If you are always safe, openly communicate your wants and expectations, and all parties are sober adults then you avoid serious problems down the line.

Sex is a very wonderful thing but it does not need to be limited to some sort of emotional relationship. Sex can be a leisure activity among consenting adults to get out any built up stress, it can also be a way to strengthen a friendship, and it can be used to share intimacy with a partner. In the same way that when Michael Jordan plays basketball the emotional attachment to the game and the importance of the act very much depends on who is involved. There is a difference between playing a friendly game with your kids, playing the sport for money, and playing for exercise. The act is physically the same but the purpose behind it varies considerably. Sex is no different.

Two great pro-sex sites to follow are Laci Greene’s YouTube page and Dan Savage’s weekly column.

Ride and Equipment Check

Late last week I did a quick 35-mile ride to test my equipment and further get into riding mode. I had planned a longer 60-mile day but unfortunately was not able to accomplish that. I am hoping this weekend I can do a long overnight trip or a 60-70 mile day. Anyway, I learned a few things on this last ride, some of it is basic biking and some is particular to my equipment.

  • My mirror sucks. I need a mirror that attaches to my helmet because there isn’t room on my handlebar to properly mount one.
  • My odometer/speedometer rocks. It is properly calibrated and has a very effective display.
  • I am moving way faster than I need to. My average speed is about 13-14 mph in the city. I want to average 10-12 mph on the trip and most of the trip will be outside of cities where I can move much faster. I need to sloooowwww down, smell the roses, enjoy the ride, and all the other cliches that come with it.
  • For the first time I have metal pedals instead of plastic, this means my shins get beat to hell when I play with the pedals while waiting for stop lights. I need to break this habit or buy shin pads.
  • When you kind of lose control going downhill it is best not to brake, if you brake you will fall.
  • My bell and lights work great but my rear light is going to need new placement when I start riding with a full load on my back. Not sure how to fix this yet without buying new equipment…
  • It looks like I will need to tune the gears and fill the tires every 150-200 miles, so every 3-4 days
  • My hand pump is crap, I need a better one
  • Also, my sunglasses broke and that annoys me.

I finally feel like the bike is an extension of my body. There were several times when I was riding downhill over rough and rocky terrain that my instincts, muscle memory, training, and practice took over and I rode it out nicely. I also think I found a way to rig everything on the bike without new equipment or saddlebags. I am going to try that all out this next weekend and see how it feels.

We Live in Amazing Times

I sometimes need to take a step back from my life and really try to look at the amazing world we live in from a more innocent perspective. For instance, last Thursday made me realize how fantastic the world we live in right now is.

I was able to ride my bicycle to a local store where I could purchase all the food I need to fulfill my dietary requirements for two weeks, and all of it was vegan. While riding I was able to listen to music that was produced around the world and sent to me nearly instantaneously from Chicago, hundreds of miles away.

While shopping I was able to use the same device that I listened to music with to talk directly with a coworker who was 20 miles away. She needed help with our website and I was able to use this same device to instantly edit the website while walking around the grocery store.

We live in a time when you can instantly communicate and do most jobs from nearly anywhere in the world. All while having affordable access to the nutrients and knowledge needed to live a long and healthy life. Mmm, it is a great time.

Tattoos

I certainly won’t judge someone for any tattoo they have or the reason they get it, but for me there are basically two types of tattoos that I will get: to memorialize something or for the story. If I am memorilizing something it is an event or concept that I find significant in my life. If it is for the story that means that the act of tattooing itself is a story that I want to tell.

The story tattoos could be anything from a spontaneous act in the midst of an awesome day to having the honor of being someones first real tattoo. These story tattoos will likely be lower quality in artistic style but they won’t have any less meaning to me.

My memorial tattoos on the other hand will not be spontaneous in design or concept. In fact, it may annoy the crap out of the tattoo artist how picky I am about these tattoos because it may mean several designs over a period of time. I do think I am going to stick with black and gray though, and keep it all on my left side upper arm, shoulder, and chest for now. I would add color if it was something extremely important and would stand out among my body art. I really like owls also so hopefully I can integrate that into a design

I don’t know what my next tattoo will be but I have some concepts/events in mind:

  • Balance: yin-yang, scales, balance of life, community vs individuality
  • Ka-tet: Those people who are part of your inner circle and life
  • Military Service: wings, CIB, badges of sacrifice
  • Immortality: ouroboros, “it has all happened before”, circular nature of life
  • Bike Ride

My Type

I get asked a lot by my amazing friends what “my type” of girl is. Most of my friends who ask me this are trying to hook me up with someone. They are all aware of my views on relationships and such so this question tends to be about how a woman is physically.

There are a few things that I tend to find attractive such as tattoos, piercings, colored hair, dreadlocks, and a relatively healthy body but none of this is really a type. I think my attraction to these things are based more on a Pavlovian response. People who have these traits tend to be interested in similar things and have a similar attitude to me. As I write this I also realize these are all body modifications, they have nothing (or very little) to do with how you are born, but instead are based on choices. There aren’t really any “born with” traits that are good or bad in my mind.

To me it is the total package for each individual, things like eye color, breast size, or height are part of a total package but I don’t have a real preference. I can see a short blonde with brown eyes and C’s and she will be just as much my type as a tall red head with A’s or average height brunette with D’s. In the same way that Supreme Court Justice Stewart can’t define pornography, I can’t define my type “but I know it when I see it”.

Physical Preparations – Yoga

Up to this point my workout routine in preparation for my bike ride has been focused on long rides and some weight work, but that is changing a little. I am entering the home stretch with only 6 weeks until I leave and my fitness is pretty good and on the advice of some friends I had my first yoga class yesterday.

The yoga class was actually pretty cool with much more focus on breathing and balance than I originally expected. I am hoping this will help with my cardiovascular strength as well as reduce recovery time of my muscles. While I am not worried about any of the distances I will be travelling it is likely that days and days of biking will push my recovery time to its limits.

Unfortunately the times my gym offers yoga is not that convenient but I think I can make it work several times a week. My gym is mostly people much older than me and the yoga class represented that. I wasn’t surprised to be one of only three men present but it was a bit of surprise that I was 15 or more years younger than the vast majority of those in class. In retrospect I think this was good, I was able to more easily focus on my own exercise without the distraction of lovely ladies (one of my biggest weaknesses).

All in all, a good experience. On an unrelated note, everyone at the gym was working on shoulder exercises, including me, and it was incredibly annoying waiting for weights and machines for so long.