Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Question of Balance

Strangely enough, at a party a few weeks ago, I had a big fight with a dear friend of mine. That is unusual for me, as I am pretty easy going, and rarely riled by opposing opinions; obviously, this hit close to home.

Jon, who was literally, and figuratively, in the middle of the argument, eventually smiled and slipped into the other room, either out of annoyance, or amusement. Either would have been valid.
photo by Todd Bauer

The argument escalated, and it was, of all things, about balance, regarding biking. I was "fighting" for the cause of keeping balance on things that are good, but can easily become "too much." He was "fighting" for the cause of pushing limits 'til you can't go any more, rather than presupposing what "can" happen. The discussion did not end well.

Neither of us was trying to convince the other; like most things that get us riled, we are trying to convince ourselves.

I believe that biking is a vehicle, nothing more, nothing less, for connecting. In its best form, biking is a means of connecting with friends, family, the environment, our community, or ourselves. In its opposite form, it is a means for distancing, or ignoring, all of the above. Those who seem to succeed do a constant re-appraisal, and balancing, between the two. We love the feeling of connection among like-minded people, but we also love the escape from the inherent difficulties of work and relationships. It's all about acknowledging and keeping track of where we are at any given time.

I was invited to join some friends on the slopes last night. I was still tired from our Wisp trip(away thurs-sun) and a stressful beginning of the work week. The relentless question of "balance" and wisdom flickered, ever so briefly, and I decided to override it and go. I am not a skilled snowboarder; and I am not endowed with wisdom when it comes to limits, so I honestly had no idea how this would turn out. I went anyway, aware of that.

My first run on a blue slope was a disaster: I simply could not relax enough to turn the snowboard. I was forcing it with my body, rather than my legs, and I mostly tumbled all the way down the slope. I knew I had made a big mistake in going. I was probably going to die, I thought.

On the next few runs, I relaxed and "remembered" how to board. It came easily, and I jumped on the black slopes that didn't have "bumps," and descended with ease and confidence; the steeper the slopes, the better I did.

I am thankful to Julie, Joe, Todd and Larry, who patiently waited while I missed 4 left turns in a row, even after repeated attempts to both guide and wait for me to join the group. Direction wise, I couldn't seem to focus.

I knew after the last run, that I had run a huge risk. Had I continued my bad runs down the slopes, would I have pulled back and taken a rest? Would I have acknowledged my limits and been ok with that? Or would I have pushed past them and gotten hurt? As hard as it is to admit, chances are I would have opted for the latter.

So my argument with my friend was, in fact, an argument with myself, trying to understand, and accept, that limits, and balance, are crucial. I'm not sure I was born with the genetics to intuitively "get" this, but I can certainly use my intellect to at least TRY to overrride it.

I am successful at this balance, maybe half the time. That's better than it used to be.

Like many of my mountain biking friends who share(either admittedly, or not) the same "pushing the limit" quality, I have been fortunate. I am alive, after many many risks, on the slopes or the trails or whereever.

Could I live differently? Yes and no. I'm certainly aware, when I want to be, of the "angel vs. devil" voice in my head that prompts action, or not. Maybe that, in and of itself, is progress. Only time will tell. But I had one hell of a time boarding last night. If I had listened to the warning in my head, I would have missed all of it.


Todd said...

Your "balance" seems to be nicely worked out these days. The big smile you sport these days is a good indication of this truth.

As for missing the turns, that's "sense of direction". Very minor in the grand scheme of things and easily fixed with GPS. ;-)

Glad you came out that night. It was a great night to slide down hills and hang out with friends.

Blue-eyed Devil said...

I have it on good authority that that dear friend probably should have kept his damn mouth shut!

Sounds like you've forgiven him?...

beckyb said...

...he's forgiven only if he agrees to write something for my project:);) ;0
can't wait to see you guys soon... definitely next weekend!

Blue-eyed Devil said...

Project, project...I believe I'm drawing a blank...little help?

Knowing nothing right now, there's no reason why I can't agree whole-heartedly to it right now. ;)