Musings on Bicycling and Buddhism

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mistaken Perfection and an Education

Ingredients in mind:

1.) One teaspoon

In The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, this portion of dialogue occurs near the start of the play:

Jack Worthing: You are quite perfect Miss Fairfax.

Gwendolyn Fairfax: Oh I hope I am not that. It would leave no room for developments, and I intend to develop in many directions.

2.) A pinch each of:

Misplaced Expectations

Mix together with a bicycle build and
 receive an education.

Outside what we know...

You can think that you've got it pretty good, that things are pretty much covered. You can hang out in comfortable-town, doing comfortable things you know how to do, and leave it at that.  You've got your bases covered, things happen, you can pay the bills and life goes on.

But sometimes what you don't know is that there is an entire other horizon to explore, a life just like this one, but a little different, and a whole lot better.  Where somehow purpose, passion, talent and need all come together and are actually fulfilled. 

"Listen; there's a hell of a good universe next door: let's go."  -e.e. cummings (from my favorite poem of his...)

But you don't get there unless you dare to dream and push outside what is normal and comfy.... (sometimes pain, if it's familiar enough, can even be something we tell ourselves we're ok with... but that's another story...)

Past circumstances in my life let me get to a point where I could be complacent and comfy. I knew the answers to just about every scenario that would or could come up.  I did my time, worked my way through - often learned the hard way.  I inadvertently cultivated a sort of nonchalant confidence where I did not have to try my best to do an excellent job, my opinions were sought after and considered with weight.

This was not making me happy.  Even though the bases were covered.  I often begrudged my circumstances and that was the day to day.

It was not until I made a commitment to doing my absolute best every day and winning over my weaknesses;  not until I determined to live with a purpose; and to make each decision with deliberate intent - only then did my environment come to change.  And so inside a year my life has changed more than 180 degrees. Everything changed.

Dynamic perception and delusion...

In the process of building, challenging, and dreaming up new ways forward in this new place I have fallen on my face again and again.  Learning so many facets of a world that I knew so little of before - all of these have profoundly challenged me.  Each and every time I thought I had unearthed a solid foothold from which to advance to the next step I would screw everything up and fall on my face again.  I would make another mistake.

Perfectionists do not like mistakes.

So much so that sometimes we will not undertake something because we might fail.

At least that's how I used to look at things.  Much less so now.  I've always been detail oriented and had high expectations for myself, no matter where I find myself.  I've often had a hard time admitting when I'm wrong about something.

How things were before, I was rarely wrong, so I didn't have many mistakes to acknowledge or apologize for.  But I also became somewhat stagnant and used to being right all the time.

Then the carpet was ripped right out from under me.

In the Oscar Wilde quote above, Gwedolyn Fairfax does not want to be perfect as it would limit her development.  Even though in the scene this is more of a piece of flirting banter, it has truth in it. (Like so many of the witty strokes of linguistic genius Wilde gives his characters, unsettling truth - perhaps that is why I love his writing so, but I greatly digress.)  Perfection is static, it doesn't change.  Life is dynamic - it has to be, it is constantly growing, changing, breaking, rebuilding, adapting, becoming more.

Early on I thought if I just did these certain things a certain way I would be fine and could carry on as before.  But life doesn't work like that.  You don't just get to press pause, change positions and then press play and things continue as they did before, except in a different setting.  You must move, grow, fall on your face, get back up again.

But all that failing and continuing creates courage in the face of the unknown, it removes fear.  When you give everything you do all that you've got, whether it ends up being a mistake or not, you at least didn't give way to fear or delusion.  Give all that you do all that you've got.  In taiko we say if you're going to make a mistake, do it with everything you've got.  Play the drums with your whole heart, no matter if you screw up or play perfectly.  Own it, take responsibility.

I'm trying to live life this way.

Yes, maybe what you thought was the right path was wrong, as I have been doing time and again lately.  Maybe the way it ought to have been or how you had your heart set on it being wasn't the case.  But if you're completely present and invested in what you do, do not hold back - then you know you really did give all there was in you.  In that kind of action there can be no regret, even if something was a mistake.

We make mistakes and we break through our delusions, sometimes forcibly.  When we can break through we can advance past the pretense of perfection, past a static state already in the past and look toward the future, to growth and empowerment.  Move to a dynamic, growing reality and all the hope and prospects it has to offer.

We receive an education.

And my most recent education has come in the form of building a bicycle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some assembly required...

Custom head badge came in the post yesterday, thanks Shane!

I've got the JB Weld, I've got the head badge, I've got the frame.

Waiting for Mercutio's parts (and Charlie's replacement parts) to come....

...Emily is building a custom rear wheel for Mercutio because his rear hub spacing (135mm) is too wide for a regular track hub (120mm), that's what happens when you re-outfit a prototype. (Especially when you change something into a fixie that wasn't built to be one.)

Just need Charlie's parts to hold out a little longer...

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Tour de What You Will by Jessie Calkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License