Breaking the radio silence after a couple months away from the creative side of my keyboard, I find myself with very little to say on the subject of riding. In large part, it comes from not really having ridden much. What I have found interesting is the amount of free time I've seemed to already occupy in the wake of normally spending a few hours per weekend typing, proofing and cleaning up photos. I've gotten a lot more done by not being strapped to the keyboard constantly, and that's a good thing. Sure, much of it stemmed from a self-imposed need to post detailed ride reports to share the magic with the interwebs. For myself, writing served to outline the mental journey involved with riding such distances, plus the therapeutic breakouts I'd often find along my way. I don't mean to imply that I suddenly don't need the riding anymore - I don't need the writing 5,000+ words part, as I'd become accustomed to doing.
I'm already looking for unique ways to transition cleanly into a single-interface social media existence. So far, using Instagram has forced me to use photographs to tell most of the story - and while its interface does allow more than 140 characters, I try to stick to the Twitter limit for cleaner cross-posting, which is all handled via API leveraging. Post in one place, broadcast to many. Not blogging the full story; yeah, it pains me a bit, but,maybe I have truly reached a tipping point wherein I either don't have much else to say, I feel as if its already been said, or find I myself lacking the muse. Perhaps that will change once I get back out on the road... Yet, I'm mildly hopeful it doesn't. I've really come to enjoy the time I've found, and the accompanying mental relaxation, resulting from not staring at a computer screen after work. Or a TV screen. Or fixing someone else's "screen-based" device. I've dropped out of the business of fixing computers on the side, and phones - and the resulting work/life balance adjustment has served to restore my sanity. I don't feel stressed out, nor constantly rushed for time. Perhaps not trying to keep myself so busy should have happened years ago - but, I'm happy it finally happened.
The shoulder surgery, as much as I'd dreaded it beforehand, has proved to be the best thing that's happened to me since the kids were born. It slowed me down, forced me to stop EVERYthing. I've learned from it. I've relearned patience. It's okay to just sit down and hang out with the kids. It's okay that I don't constantly have a project in motion. It's okay to sit and play guitar, listen to music. It's okay to just go ride, or work on the bike when it needs it, instead of feeling like I'm obligated to. The same goes for discussion and commentary on the same: I'm the one who decided to put my riding under the microscope. Now that I'm gaining this altered perspective, it's okay for me to decide on pulling it back.
I'm fully aware of the "responsibility" I've upheld out here in bloggerland, how I've attracted new riders, inspired others to commute to work, etc. I'm truly flattered by the support and readership I've received over these last twelve years. I don't plan to pull the page down or anything like that, and once I figure out a good way to post directly from social media without making the blog page an unorganized archive interleaved with non-cycling content, I'll likely keep posting little quips here and there. But, in thinking over the mechanics of that, I'm already talking and thinking too much. I'm really happy where I am right now, where I can pull the plug on over-thinking prior to it becoming problematic. The void needn't be constantly fed with empty words. Sometimes, that just gets in the way of the moment.
Keeping the reigns tied back like this, adding a little balance, it keeps me moving, it keeps me fresher, it keeps me engaged in my family instead of typing away, and by not overloading myself on the computer it keeps me fresher and more effective at work, too. Work has been crazy again - but I've been creative, I've solved incredibly complex problems, and resolved process headaches previously thought impossible only nine months ago. The flip side of that balance, however; had there been a long ride to post about, I doubt I'd have had the energy to do so anyhow. The ramp-up elsewhere would have taken a toll here eventually anyway. What I DO have, though, is the ability to take one or two minutes to compose about 140 characters on whatever may be happening with my cycling, and let the accompanying photo tell the rest. I should have discovered Twitter ages ago. Rediscovering my love of sketching makes me wonder about 1-3 panel rando comics, without the droll and cumbersome backstory. Who knows.
While this all flies on the face of my ultimate retirement plan of writing the Great American novel - it seems as if the best writers collect their notes, then spend years arranging and rearranging them, quietly, before even working on the first draft. Someone else I've chatted with this year gave me yet another perspective, which I must admit has weighed in with this decision, also. He has, over at least the last few years in succession, tried one new thing each year. Doesn't matter what, so long as he found himself interested. One year it was this, the next year something else. Some stuff stuck, others faded... But the experience of having done it or having learned something new has and will remain in place forever. It occurred to me, instantly, that I'd been at this blog for a very long time, as blogs go... and not much has changed. It became a much easier decision, suddenly. What had I been keeping myself from? Stop riding? Heck no. That's one of the things that has stuck. Yet, maybe there's something else I'm avoiding, or missing, by wrapping myself up in the stories. Maybe this was inevitable. In any case, regardless, like those real authors, I've now amassed 12 years of notes. It's time to come out of the trees and rest.
With that, I'm going to wrap this up, finish some chores, and then go out for an afternoon spin - without feeling rushed or guilty about having already spent 1/3 of my weekend at the keyboard describing my last ride. I don't know what my next "thing" will be, but, taking a break here is a good thing. I promise. If it had been the writing all along, well, perhaps just a short break is in order no matter what happens.
Until next time, see you out on the road. Thanks for reading.