Sunday, March 04, 2007

pausetoplay


so the bike ride is over and has been for some time now. how does it feel? to be stationary, to know what you will be doing three tuesdays from now, to have a key to a lock, toilet paper hanging from a tube with a spring in it...?

um, sorry, i don’t know what you’re talking about...

what do you mean? vanuatu to new caledonia to new zealand to canada to tierra del fuego. you did it. hooray. and now you’ve been awol for a while. i, like everyone else who really doesn’t care what you are doing anyway, thought you’d quit.

no, no...though i do appreciate the honesty how no one cares because i do believe this, but anyhow, all i did was pause. i had a million ideas that were sickening me because i couldn’t create the evolution necessary to transcend them from ideas to reality. during this pause, they were transformed, and i was healed. the sickness is now over. it’s time to move again. to willingly and knowingly succumb to my addiction. to get the fix. the pause was perfect. now it’s time to mash play.

what do you mean when you say these ideas were “sickening” you? aren't you, as you - let's admit it - have a tendency to do, getting a little melodramatic here?

oh, i'm sure i'm a drama queen, but it's true. when i have an idea, i feel the need to immediately act on it. the crucial word there is immediately, because in the end, immediacy is all we’ve got. if i can’t act on it, it circulates and haunts and i get all twisted and knotted up in my sheets. the pause took care of all that and i lost that weight. until, of course, the next round comes (and it will come). i can’t have things pending. if someone says, “we need to do (this or that),” i want to drop everything right then and there and get it taken care of and be done with it. not just done with it. i mean, this is me, so i will also want it to be perfect and anything less than that will also vex me, but in a different way. i don't like things to loom.

uhh, ok...so the ride...what’s next?

africa. all i know is this: i leave for morocco on 5 march. then i’ll take it from there. political situations and visa logistics may make a continuous overland route across africa nearly impossible, if not extremely agitating. i just don’t know right now and will only know when my two feet and three wheels are on african soil and i have entered that particular reality. that's all anything really is by the way, just a succession of particular realities that we choose to enter. i do know that i do not want a mandate of having to stop at every goldblessed capital city and dealing with embassies and visa applications and “come back in two weeks” or “please go wait in that ‘special’ line.” i prefer situations where ifitistobeitisuptome. not ifitistobeitisuptothatguywiththatrubberstamp. that sort of thing will push my psychosis to new and dangerous levels, because, after all, all i want to do is ride my bike. pretty much anywhere in the world is new for me. and new is good. and new and on a bike is even better. so depending on how it all plays out, i may cross africa, i may do a loop in africa ultimately back to morocco and then hop the strait of gibraltar up into spain and then blast through europe and then maybe turkey or russia or iran. who knows. and until i meet who, i don’t know either. and it’s nice not to know. it really is. it’s actually somewhat of a relief.

sounds like africa could be interesting. so how was your time in the states?

it was perfect. how i love the states. the one thing i will never understand is why we go into grocery stores and pick up apples coated in wax whose skins are donned with a plastic sticker and then we place these apples into plastic bags and after we buy them with a plastic card, that aforementioned plastic bag is placed inside yet another plastic bag and then we are handed a bizarre plasticy/papery receipt confirming that, yes indeed, we did just buy those apples. also, i really enjoyed chicago because i dumpster dived twice behind einstein brothers bagels and found, both times, 40 gallon plastic bags full of perfect bagels that were - please hold back the gasp - a whole entire day old. the friends i was with and myself - they were initially a bit leery - ate them with smiles and honey and sometimes even toasted. also, did you know you can buy motion sickness pills (with a prescription, mind you) for dogs in this country? i just read that in a ny paper i found on the subway. this country is amazing.

well, we all know you and your comments on america and how you’ve upset people in the past. are you sure you wish to continue this?

truly, i will never understand how by simply stating what i think or feel would upset anyone, even if it is in direct contrast to how that anyone thinks or feels. it doesn’t mean i hate that person, or even moderately dislike them for that matter. all anyone has to do is either a) not read it or b) read it and say, “i don’t agree.” done. no one’s right because nothing is right and it’s all perspective. i don’t understand the use of dishwashers because i don’t feel the need to sterilize myself from myself while using gazillions of gallons of water and heat and chemically soaps or a separate plate for this and that or a new glass every time i want a sip of water. i take my dishes, rinse them with some water, and that’s that. but if you like dishwashers then i say dishwash away and may all your glasses never have spots. and the waste of america, dear lord the waste. i’ve seen things go down sinks where i was scratching at my forearms and just praying that the drain could be the throat of a hungry person. i’ve seen partially eaten food scraped off into plastic bags (that we purchase to throw away) without consideration of the fact that partially eaten food is still food and can be completely eaten in a day or two if we all just put a little more thought into what we are actually doing rather than just doing the things we do for the very logical reason of that’s the way we’ve always done them. and that’s why i hate restaurants because nowhere else is waste more rampant. the next time you’re at one, look around when people stand up to leave and pat their bellies. if you’re skin doesn’t crawl, i wish i could be you. we worry and fret about the weather when it all comes down to the fact that it doesn’t matter at all what it’s doing outside because inside, where the typical american spends 90% of his time, we have thermostats and roofs and walls. we create our weather. also when people don’t keep their dogs on a leash because “poochy wouldn’t harm a flea...” well, i’m not a flea and, in addition, it makes me nervous when a nose is buried into my crotch partly for obvious reasons but also because i never know what to say during those awkward moments. oh what else, what else? i mean, yes, it’s true, i use a knife and cut open my tubes of sunscreen to scrape it all out and i’m sure i’ll be accused of being a little over the top with that but to counter i would ask that if you purchased a plasma tv, would you throw some of it away? and then i would argue that those who do not cut open the sunscreen are doing just that. and of course how our leaders who have nuclear weapons and are enriching uranium are telling other countries they can’t do the very thing that we are all the while doing. sure, those other countries are terrorists, i know, i know because good ol’ katie couric told me so. but as i said, it’s all perspective and you gotta realize and consider how many people and countries out there think americans are the terrorists. i guess they just can’t get it through their thick noggins that we are the good guys. the movies teach me that. and to think iran would leave their borders to meddle in iraq... preposterous! only we can meddle. because we are good and they are bad. i was at ground zero just yesterday and no one denies the horribleness of that tragedy on our soil. but aren’t iraqi’s being attacked on their soil? did you know that the minimum number of “confirmed” iraqi’s dead is at 50,000, some 16 times the amount that died on 9-11? and some estimates have that number more like 600,000 iraqi’s dead. it’s all perspective. it’s all belief. it’s all what we have been fed. it’s all what we choose to digest, and, more importantly, what we choose to vomit.

lastly, i read that the average american wedding costs $28,000 when all is said and done. i couldn’t eat that day. i mean, that money could be spent so much more wisely than just for a day of white dresses, black ties, rented cars, and ice sculptures, couldn’t it? but i know, i know, what are you going to do? type in www.somethingcatchy.org and then click on some button and input numbers that represent your credit and click on another button and feel all good and warm about yourself? i hear ya, i hear ya....

uhhh.....how can you begin by saying your time in the usa was “perfect” and then follow it with that?

that’s the point. it was perfect. not only because i got to feel hugs again (and they felt great), but also because i got to see things that i needed to see, which of course i’d seen before but i needed the reinforcement. or maybe i hoped i wouldn’t see them but somehow strangely took comfort in them when i did. i mean there were beautiful things too like walking under this big curvy metallic bean in chicago that makes everyone look all blobby and then i just laughed (not outloud, just to myself...i'm not really a laugher) because i was reminded that, perhaps, we are all just these skin sacks of chemicals and it all comes down to reactions and what drugs we take to catalyze or terminate those reactions. but i hate it when i start to think like that because then i start to think that absolutely nothing is real and that makes me jittery. also i walked all day in the rain in the mountains of north carolina with two great friends and then i realized everything was real and i stopped worrying if i had parkinson’s because the jitters stopped. but i’m sure i have parkinson’s or cancer or something in me, we all do, it’s just a matter of when it manifests and we lose control of our bowels.

why is it that you always seem to be on the move and going somewhere? what’s wrong with here? why the restlessness?

it’s not a restlessness and there’s nothing wrong with here other than it’s not there. what i do is simply an actual, rather than verbal, pursuit of my passions. how i wish people pursued their passions and could taste this freedon. surely there's a million reasons why not to, but when you realize all those reasons are meaningless, you're ready to go. too many folks can’t wait for a vacation or some time off. and then when they get that break, those two weeks they’ve been waiting for for fifty, it’s still a belt full of blackberries and cellulars and bleeps and bloops and sorry-honey-this’ll-just-take-one-second. there is no disconnect these days. people (some...many...perhaps even most) in america are stressed out. they are tired. they are burdened. they don’t have time and what time they have is in bumper to bumper traffic inching along with ulcers that know no bound. but for what? my answer to that question is: comfort. it’s the new heroin. we’re all addicts, but don’t worry, it’s legal, so carry on. if it’s chilly, we want to push a rubbery button with an up arrow on it, see a corresponding digital digit go up by the same number of times we push that button, and have it be warm. if something or someone smells like a human, we want to saturate it in laboratory-created scents that cover up the humanness. if it’s a piece of fruit with a small and slight bruise, we want to throw it out (i just, not ten minutes ago, rescued some delicious apples out of a brooklyn dumpster). we want push-button inflatable mattresses to get that firmness or lack thereof oh so just right. we want pills for our dispositions. we want thirty-seven shirts to choose from. we want it all. and how do we get these things? money. and how do we get money? job and waiting those fifty for two. and it’s a vicious cycle. and here's a question...is it worth it? is it really worth it? where is the fulfillment? and here’s an answer. learn to revel in what you are presented with. be it luxury or squalor. adjust, however you need to, and make it work. i mean, if there's a thermostat, sure, i'll use it. but if there's not, i don't care either. to all those jetblue folks “stranded” on a tarmac, i say: yes! we all heard how they were “starving” (no one is starving after ten hours...ten days? maybe. vocabulary lesson here: they were moderately hungry (and it was probably that bored kind of hunger anyway)). they were “dehydrated.” (humans can quite easily (ah yes, but a wee bit uncomfortably) go 36 hours without water. so: they were thirsty.) it was “unbearably hot.” (it never got above eighty degrees and the doors were periodically opened for freezing cold fresh air to enter. thus following: it was warm.) but you can’t grab headlines with words like hungry, thirsty, and warm. so it’s all thesaural exaggeration in an effort to hold on to viewers and sell the papers. and all these people “survived” their “adventure” and not a one was worse for the wear! bored? sure. but that’s another problem with what we’ve become. we have to be constantly stimulated and if not we become so sullen and bored and abject and exhausted that it’s as if the goldblessed world is ending (oh what a glorious day that just might be). for those ten splendid hours, had i been on that plane, i would have been writing and reading and napping and meditating and finding a little yoga zone and watching people in that little microcosm and if i’d a had some popcorn and a big sugary fizzy drink, i might have even paid a ridiculous price to watch and see how it all panned out. you just have to lift yourself above or below or next to situations, find your place, and settle in. what will happen will. do as much as you can to control it. begrudgingly, even i have learned sometimes you gotta hoist the white flag and wave at everything.



well, thank you for that, but the question was about your restlessness....

oh, was it? sure. ok. no, i’m not restless. i’m just a guy who likes to ride his bike and go to new places to have a smell and a look around. that’s it. plus, when i imagine any other lifestyle, i get those jitters again. we all need peace. i need peace. i find peace on my bike. so i ride my bike. george sits in his casa blanca and signs documents to try to create peace and then says “awww shucks” and then does the same thing again, but bigger and more costly and i'm not talking money. i create my peace and shake my head and live within that shake.

so you found peace riding from canada to tierra del fuego...how long of a ride was that?

yes, i found peace but also i didn’t because sometimes there are just too many things and i can never explain this so i no longer try and it doesn’t matter anyway. and no i’m not looking for some, “oh what a tortured soul” pity because i can’t stand that garbage since i know that all torture is self-inflicted (every single thing or condition is self-inflicted, if you were keeping tabs) and it’s simply a matter of choice (as, again, everything is). so please, spare me that (and i do take comfort in the fact that no one really cares about this other than myself). i don’t know how long the trip was exactly. i had an odometer for the majority of my trip but it started malfunctioning and just didn’t work sometimes. but i know the trip was longer than 16,000 and less than 17,000 miles. but i can think of no other question less significant than this. but i'm happy to entertain it and would probably ask it of myself if i met myself.

how long did it take you?

at this point i really must tell you i don’t like where these questions are going because this is what i’ve found since back in the states. it’s like people want to spreadsheet my journey and i can see their desire for pie graphs and statistical breakdowns and i just can’t stand that because it doesn't matter. and then it’s always “how many miles did you do each day?” and i answer that honestly and say “between 0 and 130” and they always look at me like i’m trying to be difficult but that is the answer so what can i do? and i’m sure there’s an average but i don’t know it and i don’t care. it wasn’t a race. it was a bicycle ride. sure, sometimes i woke up and just wanted to kill miles and i would ride long and fast and hard and just go and praise things and maybe even curse my very existence and my lack of ability to do anything worth anything. and then yeah, some mornings i would ride and then i would feel like writing and so i would stop and write for some time, maybe even the rest of the day or maybe not. one morning i was really feeling a part of this book, you know, that somehow this book was written just for me, and i just couldn’t get out of my tent without turning some more pages. well, also it was raining that morning. but i did finally get going because i was hungry and i had some bread but i really was craving some jelly. so i went to the next town and bought some blackberry jam and started reading some more. that night i found an abandoned house off the side of the road and it was dry and i shared it with the rats and i loved that house and slept in it but it didn’t matter because it was still raining the next morning so i got soaked anyhow but i did finish the book, and, like most everything and everyone, it disappointed me.

also, sometimes when i am in a crowded place, i’ll get these feelings - and i mean, it’s not every time or anything, but enough to make it of note - of how i hate the fact that i am a human because i sort of despise all that i see, but i am what i see and i don’t know what to do with that. and then sometimes i’ll feel like everyone is staring at me and i’ll hate that too so i’ll just keep my eyes down and start pinching my thighs through my pockets. being on the subways here in manhattan has rekindled this, but that rekindling only comes when i am alone, because that is the only time we can really be who we are, and those previous 13 words before that most proximal comma i truly believe.



i do have social anxiety disorder. i much prefer to keep me to myself. when i go out, which is rare and dreaded, i never; well, rarely; enjoy it. restaurants are the worst unless it is a quiet place and i am with just one person; ok, maybe two. it just gets to be too much. because i can hear all these conversations around me and this background noise and it’s like i’ll forget where exactly i fit (assuming i fit) and i’ll look at a person and that person will be staring at me and their lips will be moving and then i’ll be thinking, “ok, i must be talking to this person,” but then for the life of me i can’t remember what we’re talking about and i’m thinking, “dear god, i hope i can focus on a couple words and be granted some recall,” and usually it works out. but sometimes i’ll have to be awkward, and even though this adjective is inherent when describing me, i.e. my awkwardness (which not only includes my intrinsicness but also my vegetarianism, not drinking alcohol'ism, my desire to only eat fruits, apples, cereals, and milk'ism etc. etc.), it’s just taken to these elevated levels where everything just kind of gets screwed up and i’m the sole cause and i hate it and the only time it doesn’t happen is when i’m alone. and so yes, i enjoy being alone, but sometimes all these social pressures in the states - that i am probably guilty of constructing inside my head and making a bigger deal of than they actually are - make me feel like i need to or should feel like i need to apologize for wanting to be alone. maybe this will all change one day. but i’ve been postulating that for some years now and it seems to be getting less and less likely.

what do you mean when you say you don’t do anything worth anything?

i mean exactly that. i’m just another pair of knees on this planet and i’m slowly dying and everyone i see is dying, even that little baby inside her mother’s womb and i just want to tell that baby, “don’t come out, it ain’t worth it!” because is this world really worth it? and the answer is, of course it is. i mean, there are so many beautiful things, like this girl i saw riding her bike on this street called lafayette and it was just this countenance of peace on her face and in that instant all my faith in humanity was restored. but ultimately, it’s all death but then i’ll see a dead skunk and all those maggots just feasting and i’ll breathe real deep and feel real happy for that circle, but that happiness is fleeting because those maggots, well, they’re dying too so it all gets messed up again and that’s when i realize that happiness and sadness are really the same thing. i also sometimes start to see people, myself included, as just these skin sacks full of bones and chemicals and how that’s it, just those molecules i was talking about before and they’re reacting and how none of it is real and this accelerates a feeling of hopelessness because it all seems real but it isn’t and so why invest the effort into caring about anything? but i’m able to take myself beyond that to a different zone altogether, and i’m proud to say i can do that without a single pill, but i’m finding more and more it does require a bike or a pair of shoes to run in.

so what is it you want to do?

i want to ride my bike and that is why i am riding my bike because that is what i want to do. but there is so much more...so much more i want to do but i just can’t put my big toe on it and so i just ride and i hope that riding isn’t some sort of default or copout but it very well may be and probably is. and it’s hard to be in the states because people always and everywhere are “doing” things and they always want to know what it is i “do” with my days but - aside from it being none of their goldblessed business - because i am not doing something that produces a w-2 in late january, it’s like they think i’m doing nothing. nevermind the fact that i am the hardest working unemployed person in the world, never mind all the justifications i could provide for that, no, in their eyes, i am but a bum. but actually that’s fine with me so i wonder why i even mention it. maybe it’s a desperate call stemming from my feelings of self-worthlessness. but i will elaborate and then leave it. it’s like if there is a w-2 person out there that says she can’t meet you because she has to go to such-and-such a place for a meeting at 2:30, well, then that’s that and the discussion is over and it’s all accepted without question. however, if i say i can’t meet someone at 4:15 because i must do yoga then, it’s like i’m viewed as choosing not to meet you and that my yoga is somehow more important. but it’s like i’ve always told billy (my little friend i sometimes tell things to) everything is a choice, be it the meeting or the yoga. and i say yoga is more important anyway. and the bottom line is that it all comes down to this, i am a planner. so if someone calls me to do something in 40 minutes, i am already going to have an idea or concept for that time. something to get done. or something to think about or pursue or develop. so what i’m saying is, call me in advance, way in advance, and let’s make it happen. also, you can’t count on anyone anyhow these days. i mean people tell you they’ll be there at such-and-such a time and then they’re always late or delayed and there’s some reason how it was beyond their control, but in my head i’m thinking they should have accounted for that in advance and planned to come 15 minutes early and then they’d be on time because if there’s one thing of any value, it’s time, and goshdarn everything if i don’t get infuriated when mine’s wasted because during that waste, there is something, somewhere, not getting done that could be. once we eliminate the most useless words, i.e. could and would, and just use did and will, i will be able to once again breathe normally and deeply. i may have said too much here. also, there is one more thing that will help and i hesitate to mention it but here it goes. when you agree to meet at a place at a certain time, you should immediately follow that verbal agreement with a time check because maybe my watch, even though i don’t have one, says 11:28, but yours says 11:24. and so already you are 4 minutes late and that means 4 minutes of idleness for me and idleness is a gift from the devil that is best left wrapped or returned with a receipt. the devil has his policies i’m sure.

are you going to continue this website?

maybe.

any last words?

at the museum of natural history, where i was this morning (and feeling incredibly despondent, mind you) i learned that if all americans bought a roll of recycled toilet paper that we would avoid filling 1,700 garbage trucks, spare 375,000 trees, and save 155,000,000 gallons of water. also, and this is just from me...but did you know each time you flush the toilet that you waste a gallon of water? so i say, if it’s yellow, let it mellow. if it’s brown (and if you really must), flush it down. i mean, is a squirt of urine worth a gallon of fresh potable drinking water?

lastly, you can’t do it if you don’t.

and really lastly:

so yes, a haiku,
and then it’s on with my shoe,
there’s so much to do (that’s just not getting done might i mention)

off to morocco
and then, wherever i go
where? i just don’t know

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toth here-

I may not support the sustained involvement in Iraq, but I think the Hirsch melodrama is a bit on overdrive when you start drawing analogies between 9-11 and the current involvment US involvment in Iraq. I wonder how many of those Iraqi deaths are at the hands of insurgant IED's? You can't simply pin all of this on American involvement.

Like I said, I'm not lock step behind the president on this issue, but I am always dissapointed to her people making wildly illogical and completely irrational claims about the war. Most of these seem to be based on some emotional issue or hatred of the US that manifest it's self on this particular issue.

BTW. You were in Colubmus OH AND Chicago and still couldn't stop by to see old Jim in Indy...

Monday, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Ted said...

Great to hear from you again. The pause was definitely noticeable, but this addition was up to your usual standards and I enjoyed the photos and narrative. Have a wonderful trip through Africa, and be careful!

Monday, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have fun riding in Africa!

Chirag

Monday, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see you during your hiatus! Good luck with the African borders...looking forward to more introspective comments (Well, the ones that don't leave me depressed anyway), and incredible photos.

-Jason

Monday, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Nah said...

righteous

Wednesday, March 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

those are some fantastic photos. who takes such beauties? and where did you get your beautiful clothing?

aa

Wednesday, March 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't resist to point out that some of those folks on JetBlue were enduring greater hardship than you may think...I am speaking of the parents of infants and toddlers. The needs of young children are far more immediate and life-shaking than those of adults. I truly feel for those babies forced to sit in their own soiled mess for hours and the toddlers, hungry and stir-crazy, who no doubt drove their parents and other passengers to distraction. There is always another side to every story. Good luck with the African adventure! -Hajnalka

Thursday, March 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the rubber stamp guy isn't all that bad. that's the beauty of life the waits, the exasperation, the rush, the down time, etc. enjoy it all and soak, soak, soak it in b/c all too soon it must end.

good luck in africa and may it all be sweet.

rachel

Thursday, March 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto on the babies on the plane.

Anyway, for your consideration:
I think it's great that you've found peace, happiness, satisfaction, etc. doing what you're doing. However, just because your version of peace, happiness, and satisfaction is different and "less wasteful" than everyone else's, doesn't mean that everyone else has achieved it in the wrong way.

Heck yeah I want 37 shirts (ok maybe not 37, that's all part of my post-Katrina downsizing), and as long as I earn them and . I want shiny clean apples, and the apple company wants to give them to me, so I'll take them like that. If I pay $400 for a plane ticket and someone in middle management can't decide whether to make me wait on the plane or in the concourse for 10 hours, I believe customer service owes me a little something.

My wedding may have seemed wasteful, but it was the most memorable day of my life, and thousands of dollars were spent not on my manicure, but on feeding and entertaining the 300 people who were there to celebrate with me.

Life's short. You can't take your money with you when you die, so you might as well spend it. And most people that do spend money on things that are a bit extravagant or "wastefu" are also contributing to charity, tithing at church, etc.

Some would argue that what you do is wasteful, not of money but of time. My spare change could pay for a hut for a family in Africa but your time could build it. But I guess I'll keep buying shirts and you'll keep riding.

Good luck on the latest continent.

Carrie

Friday, March 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i guess carrie told you, joker.

the king.

Monday, March 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

running and riding and yoga may be your "job" but the expectations that people have when you are around are different. when you are playing the role of host or guest, there is a certain implied implication in most cases that you make time. if you are visiting someone that does the 9 to 5 thing, they probably expect you to conform somewhat so that you maximize the rest of the day together. same as if someone with a 9 to 5 is visting you, they would probably try to take care of business while you are doing your "work."

appreciate people for who/what they are. you espouse many things but use strong words to indicate what path you think is best.

queen of s

Monday, March 19, 2007  

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