November 14, 2020 § 9 Comments
Does anyone want to buy a new-in-box Garmin 530? Because I have one and I am selling it cheaply.
A weird thing happened to me today, something called Strava. It didn’t happen the way you might expect. It happened because of gravity.
Change means you have to defy the ultimate gravity, the gravity of habit, thoughts and behaviors dug deeply into the fabric of your neurons and the way they connect with each other. For various reasons I’ve accepted that henceforth I will no longer ignore gravity and submissively give into its irresistible pull.
I will defy it.
Gravity, however, has other ideas.
Do you want to buy a new-in-box Garmin 530? Cheap?
Boozy P. had invited me out for funerary tacos. Tomorrow Kristie and I are beginning my ride to Houston, and Boozy thought it was maybe the last time we’d ever see each other so, tacos. “Heck yes,” I said, substituting “fuck” for “heck.”
Hanging out at the Dropout Cyclery but clearly not paying rent was Wily Greek, who loves the bike shop. It is just like home in so many ways, only more cyclists, bigger TV, infinite Nescafe coffee pods, and someone else cleans the crapper. Wily may not always react but he is always listening.
That’s when I dropped the bunker buster. “I think I want a Garmin,” I said.
JP looked stonily, sternly, reprovingly. “What?”
It was the “what” of a thousand disappointments. The “what” of “inconstancy, thy name is Seth.” It was the “what” of WTF writ triply large.
“Never mind,” I said, embarrassed.
We walked around the corner for tacos and got to talking about the benefits of having GPS rides and how it would enhance THIS VERY BLOG. Just think! At the end of each post I could stick a link to the ride. Then people would get more than a rough idea of what 13 hours stuck in the wind on the plains of the Central Valley meant. They’d have data, numerals, digital thingies to comparalyze, complicize, that would allow them to climb so deeply into the warren of wormholes that all would finally be understood and revealed.
Kristie looked sour. “I don’t think you need it.”
“Fah,” I said. “Think about the engagement. People can go seamlessly from one interface to the next, enhancing their user experience while redefining the virtual reality of an online social media interface.”
“You just used thirteen branded dumb words in a sentence that couldn’t have had more than thirty.”
Boozy P. nodded. “It would be cool to actually see some of these routes. That stuff you were doing in the Cascades and Sierras looked pretty interesting.”
We finished lunch. I was now fortified to overcome JP’s disappointment at seeing me throw my principles to the wind as his disappointment churned against his elation at selling a high dollar gewgaw. “Show me the Garmin,” I said.
He smiled like the crack dealer whose customer has come back groveling, and opened the case. “This one would work well for you, seeing as you’re a total hypocrite. It can even help you find your way home when you get lost.”
“Perfect,” Kristie said. “He once wrote a blog about the beauty of getting lost. We can go back and delete that one, too.”
By now Wily had finished his fifth free coffee pod. He glanced up. “No more ‘Timex is good enough for me,’ eh?” Then he went back to the TV.
That really stung, but the thought of not having enhanced engaged socially media stuff stung more. “Fuck Wily,” I thought. “What does he know? He’s just the fastest guy on the Hill.”
“Yeah,” my conscience said. “And he ditched his Garmin because of YOU.”
JP then drew out the needle. “This is only gonna hurt once,” he said as he pulled up Strava.com on the screen. There it was. My nemesis. Everyone watched as I typed in a user name and opened an account. The gravity was irresistible. I hit “create account,” JP synched the unit with my phone, and it was over, like that test I once had for syphilis.
It wasn’t painless, but going forward nothing was going to hurt. That’s how it is when you give up what you believe in. Nothing hurts anymore. It’s only holding onto what you believe that hurts.
What I believed was that riding my bike to rediscover my life would be inhibited, not enhanced, by more data and more “engagement.” What I believed is that bicycling needs less electricity and more humanity. What I believed is that I didn’t need no fuggin’ Garmin to tell me where to go. And what I believed most deeply is that I was right.
But this is where I had wound up after only six weeks back in LA. Gravity is that strong. It doesn’t want you to leave, to jump the bonds and see the stars from the dark side of the sky. It doesn’t want you to see the earth as a marble, the sun as a third-rate glimmer, your place in space as a nattering nothing. Because once you jump the arc your mind jumps with it. It’s a place called freedom, and it’s not a bumper sticker on a pickup truck or a slogan on a flag.
Gravity wants you in the trajectory of its rainbow, bound, where you will accept the arc as it is given to you, never demanding more, never refusing to peer beyond, believing that you are who you are told to be.
When you really decide to buck the rainbow’s arc it is hard. Everything strains to hold you back, because it always takes the most energy to escape the field of gravity, even though moving outside the field takes hardly energy at all. To get the savings that come with living outside the arc, you have to burn through some fuel canisters, the biggest ones you’ve got.
Maybe you have to burn through all you’ve got and you never even break free, you only tumble back to earth spent. Maybe you burn through so much that even when you break free, there’s nothing left to propel you forward anymore. Maybe, and this is what I had always believed, you really can break free and be free. I believed it. Hard.
I got home. Still hadn’t packed. Still hadn’t even organized my stuff. It was just a few hours from liftoff, but I knew what I had to do. Desperation again. I deleted the Strava account and erased the Garmin app from my phone.
Anybody want to buy a new-in-box Garmin 530?
It’s new but it has been slightly used. The scuffing around the edge?
They’re the burn marks from tearing that hole in the rainbow.
Sermon on the mount
March 5, 2016 § 50 Comments
Sitting up here high and mighty atop Mt. Palos Verdes, I look down upon you in the South Bay and can say that I am truly worried for your souls.
Not your immortal souls that are going to be consigned to the hell of eternal angel harps and no coffee and a ban on masturbation, or those immortal souls that are going to burn in the other hell where I’m told we will have to watch the Republican candidates debate naked for eternity, no …
I’m worried about your mortal soul. Yes, yours. It’s the one that gets cobbled together by nerves and genes and environment, and then crumbles and dies with the rest of you at an average age of 82.1 for women and 78.3 for men.
Your mortal soul, after about age 12, is fed on and grows by only two things: The books you read and the people you meet. And I’ve concluded that you’re not reading many books these days. This is the only reason any of us could have watched any of the proceedings affiliated with the current presidential campaign. We simply don’t read enough books.
Not just any books. Hard books. Wrinkle-in-your-forehead-forming books. Books with long words, complicated ideas, and page numbers that go up to 600 and beyond. Those books, dear friend, are the only possible salvation for your withering mortal soul, a soul that is slowly drying, cracking, and peeling off like an old scab from the incessant diet of Facegag, Instaham, Netflix, and, yes, insipid little blogs like this one.
There’s a fix, though. It was offered up to me by a 11-year-old. Here it is:
About a year ago I stopped reading. The book on my nightstand, Darwin’s “The Origin of Species,” was so boring, dry, dense, and crammed with tiny print that each attempt to complete it was like the third lap of Boulevard RR in the snow on two flats.
The problem was simple. Even thinking about plodding through that book to the end made me want to never read anything again. Of course I couldn’t throw it away, admit defeat, and move onto “40 Years of Mad Magazine: Anthology.” Nope. I’d paid for it, started it, and put it next to my bed. So I kept it there, lying to myself that I’d finish it one day.
A year passed and that day never arrived. And the problem was that I had a big Rubbermaid storage container out on the balcony filled with books, unread. And I couldn’t open it up and grab a new one until I had evolved through Darwin’s albatross atop my nightstand.
Everything ground to a halt. I even began reading Internet news.
Then one day I was coming back from the Tuttle Creek Road Race with Attila the Hun. We were talking about his precocious daughter, who is twelve. “She writes down in her diary every day that she read 25 pages. That’s her daily book diet. 25 pages a day.”
It was so brilliant! I didn’t have to finish Darwin, or Ulysses, or Gravity’s Rainbow, or any of the other 3,000-lb. books lurking in the rubber tub. All I had to do was read 25 pages a day.
So I did. And the beauty of 25-a-day is that since everything is a multiple of 25, you always know where you left off. After a very short while I’d read all of Darwin, understood a tiny fraction of it, and moved on. Meursault: Contre-Enquete followed, then Le Feu, and finally I mounted Ulysses for the first time in almost thirty years. In 28 days I’ll be done with that, too, and it’s all thanks to a 12-year-old daughter of a bike racer.
We can do this. Your mortal soul is worth it. I’m even thinking about coming up with a new app called “Vellum.” It will have KOB’s (King of the Book) for people who have read the most in a week, and will have KOP’s (King of the Passage) for people who have read a particularly gnarly segment in the least amount of time. I could even have Joe Yule design some loose-fitting reading kits with “Seth Davidson Book Injury Lawyer” emblazoned on the pink smoking jacket lapels, and get FastForward to come up with some full carbon e-Readers that are 100% carbon.
It sounds crazy. It is crazy. But force-feed yourself those 25 pages, starting today. You’ll grow muscles in parts of your brain you never even knew you had.
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