Christmas, mountain biking and living in the moment

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    • #231572

      Merry Christmas to all on Singletracks.  I hope each one of you have a great Christmas and enjoy the moment and some downtime with your families … … and hopefully a ride or two also.  I know we often talk about living in the moment as we ride, and of course we must do so if we don’t want to enter into the “pain and suffering” that Greg wrote about earlier this week in his column “Over a Beer”.  But I find for me that many rides include a strange mix of living in the thrills of the moment and contemplating the profundity of the past and the future.  Seeing ancient mountains and massive rock formations frequently cause me to stop and consider how they have come into being, how long they have stood and how much longer they will stand — far longer than my brief 80 years or so on this old earth.  Christmas is similar for me, considering what happened some two thousand years ago and how that affects so many even today and what are the implications for our lives and for the future.  So many things in life, including mountain biking, are maybe even more meaningful if we consider them in more than just the context of the moment.  Ride on and live in the moment, but maybe not just in the moment.

    • #231576

      Merry Christmas mongwolf! I am an absolute “scenic” mountain biker.  My rides (and trips to the trails) take much longer than normal as I am always on the lookout for points of interest.  I’m not above ditching my bike for short jaunts searching for a cool feature or view.  Though I’m not really built for speed, I enjoy rolling through a flowing piece of trail as much as the next rider, but the things that stick with me are the critters, people, views and discoveries on ride.

    • #231577

      Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.  I couldn’t agree more on how to enjoy what is around you.  I have been pretty blessed to have a wife who enjoys riding trails and rode biking.  I also have a Son-in-Law who is an avid mountain biker.  I love to ride all forms.  Riding has opened up so much more country than if I didn’t ride.  If you ride without enjoying the scenery around you are missing a huge part of the beauty of cycling.  I reach a half century in 2018, I hope to make this year the most epic riding year yet.  In 2017 I upgraded both bikes, a newer Klein rodie and a new Roscoe 8.  Planning this years travels during these cold dark months.  Happy Riding.

      • #231593

        Merry Christmas! I’m also about the scenery on the rides.

    • #231758

      I’ve been thinking about your post Floyd, and this is probably worth it’s own article, but I think that contemplating the past and the future in the sense you’re describing is one way of truly living and embracing the moment. I’d argue that taking the time to appreciate the immensity of the past and unknowableness of the future is a way to be truly engaged in life.

      On the flipside, when we obsess about what happened in the past to the point that we want to relive it or change it, wondering whether we’ve done the right thing, is a very different and unhealthy rearward look at life. Worrying and fretting about what will come in the future is similarly unhealthy.

      In my mind, truly living and engaging in the present moment doesn’t mean not thinking about the past and the future at all, but rather how we think about the past and the future.

      Anyhow, just my 2 cents on the topic 🙂

      Merry Christmas everybody, and a Happy New Year!

      • #231782

        Nicely said Greg.

    • #231792

      Merry Christmas as well and Happy New Year to all…living in the moment is all too important but (like mountain biking) takes a great training of the mind that is no small task these days.  I find such solace in hitting the trails but it is often so hard to shake off thoughts of work, deadlines, family struggles, etc…but with focus those thoughts tend to unravel as the trail unfolds before us.  I typically tend to ride alone (and never with ear buds) which can leave an awful lot of headspace to deal with.  Oddly, I’ve found that when I have a lot on my mind I tend to ride better (?!). Perhaps I find myself focusing even harder on the trail to push away life’s stresses and “Live in the Moment.”  Scenery is key as well in righting yourself with nature and your place in this world, be it peaceful trees or ancient mountains.  I often think of the quote in Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums” while on his hike in the mountains…“to me a mountain is a buddha. Think of the patience, hundreds of thousands of years just sittin there bein’ perfectly silent and praying for all living creatures in that silence and just waitin for us to stop all our frettin and foolin.”  I’ve been on so many rides during the highs and lows of life and taken in the lessons and metaphors of life that can be gained from mountain biking.  Just yesterday I was on a VERY CHILLY ride but determined to hit the trail on account of my bike (my baby) having been out of commission for 2 months following a cracked rear triangle after backing into an unseen metal pole while on my bike rack.  Even worse I had JUST arrived in Bentonville, AR for several days of a solo mountain bike trip.  Anyway, after much time missed and dollars spent, I ended up reflecting yesterday on a lesson in being thankful for what you have (which can be lost in an instant) a working bike to do what I love, my health and an able body.  It was also a huge monetary set back.  I had built up my own dream machine as a mid-life gift to myself a couple years ago.  Having the latest a greatest and trying to keep up with that is nothing when it can be taken away in a moment.  What’s important are the simple things, simply being able to ride, riding whatever bike you got, being healthy, etc…even those mighty ancient mountains are impermanent.  So what does that say about ourselves?!  So, CHEERS to the coming New Year and to being able to do what you love and if you can do it with others you love…even better!!  Happy New Year everyone!!!!

    • #231872

      Great thoughts everyone.  I concur with all.  Great words MCTolen about being thankful.  For me there is a great peace in that, and I always benefit from a little reminder about that.  There is a contentment with that rather than a wanting of more and more.  And great thoughts Greg.  I agree with the direction you are heading towards in somehow defining “living in the moment”.  I wasn’t really trying to narrow it too much or make it negative.  I myself similarly have a broader view of “living in the moment”.   We might propose that there are different degrees or types of living in the moment.  For example, bombing through a rock garden requires one level of living in the moment and that in itself can have a good and cleansing effect on the soul.  Pushing through a punishing climb could be another level or type.  Then standing out on a vista, taking in the immensity and beauty around oneself is maybe yet another.  Extending that moment on the vista, to thoughts about how long everything around us has been and how it came into being, etc. would also be living in the moment.  I guess my thesis is something akin to not narrowing “the moment” too much all the time; that would seem unhealthy to me.   Additionally, life and even a mountain bike ride would probably have greater meaning and satisfaction for most if we sometimes thoughtfully connect the present to past and future and place ourselves in a greater picture.   That would be in contrast to “JUST living FOR today”.  I think as we see a bigger picture in time and purpose, then we will likely become less and less narcissistic and materialistic and likely more content.  One of the great experiences in riding for me is being surrounded by nature and its past and surrounded by history (historical sites) and the human past.  I find myself many times stopping, contemplating, giving thanks, praying, asking questions of what I really know and don’t know (and how little I really know), and asking questions of what others before me have gone through.  I guess this forum started by a recent experience on a ride which caused me to contemplate Christmas more deeply.  Is there a Creator?  Can all of this beauty, simplicity and complexity around us really just have come into being without some intelligent input?  Did a Creator really become a man (a baby)?  And if so why?  What does it really mean for me?  I’m not trying to push anything on anyone.  I’m just sharing/processing my own experience because I can be just as overly-driven as anyone else, wanting more and more and be discontent.  But I do know I find contentment as I see things in a bigger picture, eat a little humble pie, and give thanks … … AND THEN go out and try to take on a mountain or try get through that rock garden I’ve never been able to get through.

    • #231969

      ” I think as we see a bigger picture in time and purpose, then we will likely become less and less narcissistic and materialistic and likely more content. ”

      “I do know I find contentment as I see things in a bigger picture, eat a little humble pie, and give thanks … … AND THEN go out and try to take on a mountain or try get through that rock garden I’ve never been able to get through.”

      One idea I’ve been grappling with is the relationship between contentment and ambition. If you listen to one group, contentment is all that matters. If you listen to another, ambition is all that matters. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere between the two extremes.

      Let me know if you figure that one out 😉

    • #232049

      Greg, you are such the philosopher. =)  If I remember right, one of your “Over a Beer” columns touched on ambition and great achievements of men and women.  I really enjoyed it.  As I see it, ambition — in and of itself — is a great part of humanity.  Without getting hung up on religion, I would venture to say that is a God-given quality of humanity.  The greatest achievements of mankind have been accomplished through great ambition.  And I am sure or assume that for many of those people, they found great contentment in their achievements.  I think where people become discontent is when they have SELFISH ambition and are doing things or seeking achievement primarily for themselves (narcissism).  It is quite plausible that even the seeking of contentment can leave us less content.  Our greatest contentment is probably found as we live less for ourselves and live more for others (serve others). Great examples in mountain biking might be seeking to serve one’s community through trail building or volunteering for high school mtb races.  So I guess I am proposing that it is not a balance between contentment and ambition as you proposed.  I think it is more likely simply getting rid of selfishness in our ambition and in our seeking of contentment.  I think this is where family, community and even faith can be key elements in our contentment and ambition.  I would propose that as we seek to do things for others or even for God in a heart of love (and not live our lives for just ourselves), then we will have more contentment and a “truer” motivation for our ambitions.  The old saying in leadership, “It’s not about me”, says a lot.

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