Today I was reading David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech “This is Water.” In it, he addresses the theme of selfishness, as well as the tedious aspects of adult life and how we all construct and view our life experiences.
Our challenge, he says, is to step outside ourselves, take an active role in interpreting our surroundings, and not succumb to that everyday tediousness.
I call this fighting cynicism. In recent years, the importance of this challenge has been very present in my own mind. It’s easy for me to become irritated by the day-to-day administrative functions of my life as I fume about how they hold me back from a potentially “rad” existence. I’ve been hearing that word “rad” a lot lately, and I hate it, so I’m using it here. Cynicism! Wait, where was I?
Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have noticed that I’ve been perusing old issues of The Wheelman and Good Roads.
Both magazines were publications of the League of American Wheelman, which is now the Bike League, and date back to the late 1800’s, when people’s fascination with the bicycle was just beginning to take hold in the United States.
The excitement and novelty of riding a bicycle permeates these editions. From tour recounts to illustrations and poems, men (mostly men, as women are unfortunately largely absent from these publications) unabashedly adored bike riding.
An example of this appreciation for the bike is found in the poem below, “Wheelman’s Song, ” written by Will Carleton in 1884. It seemed a fitting way to end one year and help inspire the next. Continue reading The Wheelman’s Song→
I came over to this computer intending to write a Coffeeneuring Challenge update (entries due this Monday!), but instead I’m pondering other matters– small changes in my own life that have altered my daily routine and energy levels for the past few months.
One month ago– though it feels longer– I completed my second marathon of October, the Marine Corps Marathon. It was a stimulating event that turned out to tip my emotions and fitness into unexpected fatigue. I lost most of my enthusiasm for riding and running, and ate too much during the lull.
Where does your energy go? What do you choose to pursue? Does each day pass in a blur of routine, or do you save a sliver of time to wonder about the existence of something deeper? You don’t know what the something deeper is, exactly, and you are not convinced it is a thing.
You hold onto an optimistic belief that if you go out in the world, if you work out, read more, eat better, if you try and stretch yourself in some way, eventually you will find it. Your personal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The sense that your something deeper is out there helps you wake up each day.
I never seem to tire of writing about bicycles. I love talking about them, dreaming about my next bike trip, figuring out the perfect bike commute setup, pondering the ins and outs of randonneuring… you get the idea.
This love of riding bikes led me to start Chasing Mailboxes. I was searching for an outlet to write more creatively, compared to the technical writing and editing I do in my work, and wanted to focus on a topic that I felt passionately about, but was not overly intimate.
Chasing Mailboxes is a platform to diary the sensations experienced while cycling. These may include moments of discomfort, jubilation, frustration, or even self-doubt. It’s remarkable how the simple act of riding a bicycle can serve as a petri dish for so many physical and emotional states. Continue reading Bicycle as Escape→
“Pedaling Through History” was a compact display full of ye olde treasure. Photos, illustrations, books, letters, sheet music, newspaper articles, trade publications, maps featuring bicycle-friendly routes, and movie clips were some of the items shown. Continue reading “Bikes” All The Go: From 1904 to 2014→
What a week. Four sparkling summer days, top notch training, and a ride along with a friend on a couple of days, too. I celebrated the end of my Bike Friday Tikit field trips to Northwest D.C. with a photo safari on today’s ride home, in part to stretch out my time in the afternoon sun and also to remind me why I should travel this way again soon. Continue reading Washington, D.C. Bike Commute Scrapbook→