The Exotic vs. the Everyday
July 24, 2008
I tend to fall in love with performance. I think it's a common problem today. I love fast and light in everything I do. I love the idea of going farther, faster, doing what hasn't been done.
But I can end up in a fanasy world on such a path. I can end up wishing for what I don't have.
...Wouldn't a 16-lb carbon fiber bike with aero wheels be sweet? I'd even use mine for grocery errands. And wouldn't it be nice to not have to work so hard on the club rides? Fast, fast!
...Wouldn't a carbon fiber sea kayak or family canoe be sweet? So much easier to paddle and to carry from the car to the water. Heck, my current boats almost break my back.
...Wouldn't a new tennis racket work so much better? I could finally really hit the balls!
Then there's just plain wanting stuff that I don't have.
I think this kind of fantasy performance scene of mine relates to the new push in ultramarathoning, or ultra-performance of any kind, in every activity I know about. Everyone is trying to go faster, farther---me included. (I'd love to see a new self-supported Trans-Am bike record!)
Then there's the interest in traveling to exotic locations and climes.
What's up with all this jive?
Why not take all that energy and put it into exploring the world that is right around you with the stuff you already have? Believe me, we're not using one-tenth of its potential. And if we didn't spend the time and money fussing with the fancy stuff we'd have a lot more of both for exploring where we are!
I need to get back to my roots, baby!
And if there's any cutting edge to explore, why not make it the cutting edge of thrift and simplicity? The cutting edge of Here and Now? I'm sure that it's plenty exciting!
I think the reason why I get sucked into what I don't have or into extremes of whatever kind is that it's a distraction, it gets me out of my skin, into another state of being...for awhile. The risk here is that I don't let myself be changed by the experience and to learn and grow but instead I just use it as a pressure release that lets me go back to doing things the same old way.
Now, there are good motives for wanting to go far and fast as well. A light, fast bike may well be used more often and more effectively. If a touring bike was light and aero and held all your gear in a waterproof way that actually made the bike go faster, you could really use a bike to get around on! ---But you already can! Nothing is really holding you back on a bike, any bike. Maybe a better neat thing to push for and to promote is the idea of a full-featured CHEAP bike. But then aren't all bikes basically cheap? 2nd-hand ones are easy to get for $100. Even a thousand$ for a sweet new one isn't what's really stopping most folks from enjoying them. One could say that bikes are basically fully optimized just as they are, for normal everyday use. (True, you do get sore after a few hours on an upright, but whatever. A few hours is usually enough to get any job done or get to most places. I do dream of a light, fast, aero bike that would make short work of the 60-mile hops that are a bit far for my upright, but whatever---why not use the time I spend pondering such things to publish more sweet books about things no one else will publish about? Like tandem bikes, for instance, or trikes. This is truly helpful stuff!)
Likewise, my desire for a lightweight all-round boat seems truly helpful. I want a boat that can be paddled or sailed so you can really get somewhere (it's a long way between towns on the water around here) or just have a blast while out on most any waterway. ...But this shouldn't slow me down from using the boats I already have!
Of course, OYB isn't about my wants getting out of hand. It's about everyday folks doing everyday things and reporting on how it goes for them. Now, everyone will do things differently and in different places---this shouldn't make me pine for their scenes. Their reports let me CONNECT to their scenes just as I am.
Of course, when I can learn from their action, let's do it!
For instance, if I had not have hooked up with John Rutherford for boonie skiing last winter I wouldn't have discovered the miracle of cold pizza for fueling all-day outdoor fun.
That's not to say that a push for better gear in general is a bad thing.
Still...our gear in general these days is pretty darn sweet compared to the old days.
Instead of pining for a carbon canoe maybe I should just do a few more dumbbell curls each evening til I'm comfy lifting the boats that I do have!
Still...going more light seems to equal going more fun in every way, starting with my own bones. I somehow lost 5 pounds last year---it's been very nice getting around under my own human power in all my activities while being just that little bit skinnier. 5 lbs in fat probably equals 10 lbs in equipment savings.
Still...one shouldn't lose power in order to lose weight. If being skinny means I can't pick up my canoe, I'm stuck.
Anyway, it's all good. But it can all easily go haywire.
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