Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29th. Musings on Life, Death, Motorcycles and learning to say "Yes".

It's December 29th. It's my birthday. 52. Damn! When the hell did that happen? I still feel like a kid, most of the time; but the day, the age, the time of year..... not to mention the weather, have all conspired to create a reflective mood it seems. Enlightenment? Still don't know what it is.

Slap my hand, existential soul man. Van nails it at the end. "It's always up you. And the way you think". As a man thinketh, Van?

Oprah "Ah Hah" moments can come at the funniest times, funniest places.

The set up:
It's Sunday afternoon, Sept. 30th, at the "Ohio Mile". Saturday's initial excitment and optimism about the weekend's prospects has given way to a fair amount of befuddlement and frustration for all involved. And it's a nerve racking game. At least today. With the event booked, runs are limited to every few hours. You make a change on the bike, cross your fingers, and run. Get back in line, repeat. The day wears on. Time is bearing down. Drue and his cameras are of course documenting the hair pulling and head scratching.  

        Rider Matt Smith ponders the next run

                                                               Wait over, staged and up next

It's just Drue and I. While we are waiting to make what might be our last run, Drue initiates some conversation (for the camera); probably along the lines of "what am I doing" (to the bike) or "what am I thinking". 

After he puts the camera down we start talking about how I can be a pretty glass half empty kind of guy. Struck me as a bit of an odd observation. Not that I didn't know, but maybe not the extent. Especially as I believe racing is a inherently positive pursuit. You have to believe and persevere. Usually under pressure.

Now at this point we're just kind of BS'ing, getting closer to staging for our run. 

Drue, among his other talents and accomplishments, has a degree in acting from NYU.  He started to explain how, in improvisational theater, you have to keep saying "yes" to the person you are riffing with. Keep the dialog moving forward. The quickest, and surest way to end the exercise, it was explained, was to slant towards the negative, say "no" to what's going on, shutting the whole creative process down. He also went on to explain how that process can really point up one's psychological orientations, and how you often are confronted with your own brick walls of thinking and attitude. As I listened, it occurred to me that this training must be incredibly challenging , yet potentially therapeutic. "Absolutely", he concurred, "it can really play with your head". 

Now we're really on a roll. But, I questioned; as much as the training of saying "yes" might bring more peace and light into one's outlook, relationships, etc., we can't just go through life saying "yes" all the time. There will always be conflicts. He agreed. But went on to say; as you start to master your craft, if and when you say "no", it has a deeper, better thought out weight and power. 

The Actors Studio, meets Sigmund Freud, meets carb tuning 101. This is all occurring on an airport runway, in the middle of nowhere Ohio, with screaming engines and controlled pandemonium all around. Very Zen. Too bad the cameras weren't rolling.

Last year we had some very clear goals and objectives. In the grand scheme, most were accomplished.

As Project Badger rolls on, seemingly more often I'm asked: "what's next?"  Or even, what's the point, what are you trying to prove?

Nothing in the end. Sometimes it's just the simple joy of getting lost in something that gives you pleasure and satisfaction. An end unto itself.

Secondly, I've long believed, now more then ever; that whatever the pursuit, much of our effort is not about the activity itself, but rather the people we meet along the way. Bikes, in this case, are just the canvas we're painting on. Could be knitting. Doesn't matter. It's all largely just a conduit to meet interesting people and maybe walk away looking at the world in a slightly new way.

So here's to learning how to better say "yes". Here's to keeping the creative juices flowing and embracing the possibilities. And teaching; what at times, seems an impossibly hard-wired head, new tricks.

Thanks Drue. As my Dad used to say to me when I was a little kid: "Good talk".

Happy New Year, everyone. 

Thanks for listening.


Post script, December 29th, 2017. What WAS all the fuss about? For the truly curious, here's all the documented angst, in all it's cinematic glory. So grab a bereverage, sit down, relax, and hopefully enjoy: The Badger, Made in Trenton

And again, Happy New Year!