Musings on Bicycling and Buddhism

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Charlie's Got A Brand New Bag

Setting the Stage

First, channel James Brown, specifically - "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag":

Then instead of fly dance moves from back in the day - think bicycles.


My darling, he's old, he's Austrian, there's no one like him - he is a bicycle. We've gone more than eight thousand miles together over the past two and a half years. Late last summer I took him apart because he looked like this once the cranks came off. He needed to be cleaned.

He needed a new chainring and a few other things.

And he's been waiting.

Mercutio's become the winter bike, he's aluminum so I'm not so worried about the road salt eating him alive, whereas a couple of winters have tried their hands at Charlie's steel. (Princess Buttercup does not come out when there is road salt, she's too fancy for that.)

So Charlie has waited patiently, but now Charlie's getting a brand new bag.

Compliments of the most excellent idea of one of my roommates, we are taking the wheel building class at Broadway Bicycle School. Charlie's fly new wheelset, made by yours truly includes a lovely White Industries track hubset laced to H Plus Son Archetype rims.

Charlie's getting rebuilt, just like me.

Last year brought a lot of change, and fall brought some more. I always used to think that you had to take what was handed to you and deal with it, but it doesn't have to be like that.

Building Anew

You can build yourself anew. And I'm doing that with life, and I'm doing that for Charlie. The bicycle of my personal awakening, of making me into a cyclist, deserves that. But even outside of anthropomorphizing my bike, people deserve that too.

You, me, and all the folks out there.

Some words I continually come back to:

"Indulgence and indolence produce nothing creative. Complaints and evasions reflect a cowardly spirit; they corrupt and undermine life's natural creative thrust. When life is denuded of the will to struggle creatively, it sinks into a state of hellish destructiveness directed at all that lives.

Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the end more difficult than opening the door to all the mysteries of the universe.

But to do so is to vindicate your existence as human beings. Even more, it is the mode of existence that is authentically attuned to the innermost truths of life itself; it makes us worthy of the gift of life.

There is no way of life more desolate or more pitiful than one of ignorance of the fundamental joy that issues from the struggle to generate and regenerate one's own life from within. To be human is much more than the mere biological facts of standing erect and exercising reason and intelligence. The full and genuine meaning of our humanity is found in tapping the creative fonts of life itself."   -Daisaku Ikeda, from "The Flowering of Creative Life Force"

Building Mercutio taught me a lot about the mistaken delusions of perfectionism; Charlie is teaching me how to rebuild and start again, all over again.

Come spring, we'll be rolling by - renewed, refreshed, rebuilt, and ready for anything.

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