One of the things I am going to practice during my sabbatical from school is mindfulness. Being more aware of my presence in a spiritual sense is of critical importance to me... and never was that tested as it was last Thursday afternoon! But before I get to that, what facilitated the subject of this entry, the test ride of an electric-power assist bike, a Specialized model that will be named Hemingway (because he takes you places).
For a long time I had been considering purchasing a moped, used, rebuilt or whatever. The biggest drawback from owning one is storage. I would not be comfortable leaving it outside for any length of time unattended and the gas engine keeps me from being able to bring a moped inside the building. I was spending time wandering around the Greenstreet Cylce Shop, relocated from near the Ameritrade Ball Park. It is between my apartment and the fitness center where I work, further away from me than it is closer to the fitness center.
Greenstreet Cycle has an adjacent coffee shop with Wi-Fi, so I occasionally go there just to hang about, taking my laptop with me. The compulsion to ask about the electric bikes that they have was at the back of my mind for quite awhile... now it was nearer to the front of things in my queue. The shop owner, who has always been very personable with me, was there as well. We got to talking about the bikes, and he was able to disarm the drawbacks that I had perceived that e-bikes come with. Finally, he suggested a test ride, with me on the high-end model and he on the lesser but just as capable bike for a test ride. And then, it is near the end of the ride that the meat of the entry occurred, which is why I am jumping to Monday afternoon and my down payment on a previous year model of the top end e-bike!
Meanwhile... I am already hungry for school! I wake up each day with a gnawing inside of me that is driven by my want for purpose. With one of my stated reasons for being in Omaha is to get a degree and further my education, it is not the only discovery I had hoped to make. My purpose, the search for which has brought me to Omaha, is another motivation that is driving me on. But purpose is not found just doing... purpose is about discovery and revelation, and I am willing to find out what there is out here to be discovered and revealed to me!
WASTING ALL MY TIME
I used to envy the kids in my neighborhood growing up whose parents allowed them to get mopeds. I did not know then what I know now, that not only should they not have been operating them without restriction (the Honda Spree fell in an ambiguous area; the Honda Elite required an motorcycle endorsement), but that most of the kids I saw and including myself, lacked the maturity to operate one. Nonetheless, I was transfixed by the notion of puttering around on a moped and it never left me as a desired mode of transportation. As an adult, I did own one that sputtered around for a year or so in the late 90's. There was prolly more use in it than that, but I was not (and still am not) skilled at things mechanical, and so that moped died a quiet death.
E-bikes never really caught my fancy. The early permutations of them always seemed more trouble than they were worth and did not have the power to lug around a medium-sized Mark, much less this tub o'humanity that is using that name currently. But when I asked the owner of Greenstreet Cycle about the e-bikes on his sales floor and told him I had never taken an e-bike for a ride, he told me that I just had to test ride one. And that is what we did. We took off from the shop on Harney, a half block north of 24th street, and rode downtown. And I had my breath taken away! The performance of the bike was beyond what I thought was possible, and the technology with the ride assist has come so much further than I could have hoped. Turning north on 13th Street to make our way back to the shop (this after making a loop around Midtown), a little black Ford Focus darted in front of us, making the shop owner a little nervy. But before we could begin talking about how crappy the drivers in Omaha are to cyclists, a VERY familiar face appeared out of the driver's side window.
Sometimes I wonder how much is my shows boisterous enthusiasm is due to my lack of maturing v. knowing better in my old age! There are times when I find my mind slipping back to my younger years and the hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities that I let slip by in my life, never to come again. The moments where I could have possibly made the jump, "level up" and be something more than I was... and that would have resulted in my being more than what I am now. I think, and I did think then, that taking accountability for actions include being honest with oneself and recognizing the consequences of those choices, in the past as well as in the now. Realizing that it IS up to you, chasing hopes and dreams, and that if you fail to pursue them with all of the energy of your being, that it is your lack of commitment to those hopes that will be responsible for falling short of them. Not only does this apply to career choices, but in love as well. I believe that this is a universally applied ideal, and it is one that swallows up those unused opportunities like objects falling into a singularity... gone from the universe and off into a place where even imagination fails.
Having this understanding of what was at stake in our life choices has always with me. I mentioned quite a while ago on the moment when I truly understood the separation between those who took up the challenge to be something was during one of my turns as a sparring partner early in my career. The cat I was being a living punching bag for was, at the time, a pound-for-pound champion (which is to say that even among the champions in different weight classes, he was considered the best of them all). Me and my ambitions, hoped to show that I was up to the task of running with him, and for a half-mile, I was. Then, I wasn't. As I said when I mentioned it previously in my journal, I knew not only then, but was granted awareness that was clear to not only me of the present, but the me who I was, as well as the "me" I was yet to be. Riding on the electric bike was one of the small, almost unnoticed transformative moments in my life where kindling from "unkept promises" ignites and becomes a small, determined, flame. Kinda sorta like when I first met Nebraska online.
While we were zipping along 13th Street, heading north towards Harney(???), I heard a voice that I literally hadn't heard in years, but one that has been in mind almost exactly after my first year here... PRINCESS. The conversation was a blur, but not for reasons that may seem obvious. I asked her about her boys, her love life (in a relationship), as well as my admission that not unlike Morrissey, there is a light for her that will never* go out. We parted without much ado, and I babbled some to my companion about Princess being my ex-girlfriend. He replied, "Oh, so THAT'S why she almost hit me getting across our lane!" We gathered ourselves ( he more so than yours truly), and we made our way back to his bike shop.
Dismounting the bikes after our arrival back at the bike shop, we began to make arrangements surrounding my purchasing an electric bike. In the meanwhile between the details, there was some discussion about seeing my ex-girlfriend and what it did NOT mean. Even though I did ask about her love life and included my "always willing to give us another chance" statement, that was just me "following the rules". That is how the dumped and heartbroken are supposed to react to seeing the person that they loved with all they had after years of wondering about them, aren't they? I don't think I am that much different and I am human and I need to be loved, just like everyone else does...
But after the initial response, the surprise of the surprise chance encounter fading with the setting of the autumn sun, the actual reaction, the actual assessment, takes place. The memory may be a little hazy (though it is only so when I admit to such... when you do it, well, F*CK YOU), but there are some questions that need to be answered, some accountability must be taken of the "who's having what". "After the ecstasy, the dishes", advises one koan, and in returning to a state of mindfulness, it is time to tidy things laying about.
My "Rules To Live By" makes it hard at best, for me to really entertain the idea of a relationship. Though I meant what I said, I also said what I did to fulfill the "what if" aspect of my relationship with Princess. "What if I had the chance to see her again and I did not dare to ask her about us?" Thinking about how when I still "maybe could have been a contender", and realizing how instead of digging in and going after what may have been the best of any chance in my life TO BE ME, I shrank away from, I could not have let this coincidence of life go by without my honest and truest reaction, as well as without my saying those words. How they were received did not matter... but almost as with my pining for Tee Jay ended after our date, my flights of Princess and all that we could have been, too, has become like the scent of forget-me-nots, become one with the atmosphere and dissipated into the background. What was, isn't anymore. But still, I wonder...
Having a tangible philosophy to guide me, it would not surprise me if there is some parts of this entry that would confuse anyone who is familiar with my personal ramblings. That is part of the reason this entry has ran on. The other reason, quite simply, is that I have something that I want to say. Speaking on my enthusiasm earlier, I know that there have been studies that show when enthusiasm, particularly smiles, are relieved as authentic. in fact, there is a biological marker in the eyes that indicate to others whether or not a smile is authentic. I bring this up because throughout my life, I have been taken by the people who after crossing my path, smile back. Along with my iris gleaming, people have been drawn to me because of the realness of my mood. I never have to "force" my mood. It is almost always just under the surface of any mood I am in. Now, I do find myself asking if I am getting too old to be "shining one". Then, last Thursday happened.
It did not matter to me if anyone paid me any attention after I recognized Princess. No matter the what, she is someone that I care deeply for, even if we will likely never talk as friends again. I did take away that she still finds me as attractive as she did the first time she saw me, and that was a "half-credit" ego boost. Remember, sometimes being pretty doesn't count for enough and with Princess, it proved to be the case. Then, there are times where being attractive doesn't matter at all. That is what I felt was the case the first time I met Nebraska in Chicago back in '10. Admittedly, I was a "mess" when we first met, telling her so prior to our meet. But more importantly, I never promoted myself as "all that" to her, even while being "all that" was my goal! Going back to our earliest internet conversations, I told her that it would be up to her to find me as "this or that". And even if I did think of myself as "this", after we met, she clearly thought of me as "that", and I could dig it (and I thought you could!!).
After getting on my computer during the weekend, I got an email from Nebraska. She was nearby when she and some companions heard my exclamations after I recognized Princess. She had told her group that I prolly had seen someone special, and in truth, I had. But there have been times where SHE was the person that was met with my effusiveness previous to Princess ever, and it always felt as if it seemed to her as a burden. So after enough encounters, the electricity that I feel when I recognize someone in my life, particularly someone who is dear to me, began to fade. Not to say that I would not be surprised and happy to see her again, but would I be as uncontrollably excited and glowing to see her as I SHOULD be..?
Maybe we will have that discussion. Maybe one day we will sit down and be open to hearing and listening to one another. You never know... so you better watch!