Sunday, August 21, 2022

Let's Hang On

Cover picture of the 45 RPM
My teenage years were not far ahead when the Four Seasons had "Let's Hang On" make it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. I was not listening to Top 40 radio in those days. But within a few years I was a fan of the Four Seasons. Here are a portion of the lyrics, "Let's hang on to what we got. Don't let go girl, we got a lot. Got a lot of love between us. Hang on, hang on, hang on, to what we got. There isn't anything I wouldn't do. I'd go to any price to get in good with you. Give me a second turn..You got me cryin' , dyin at your door." As I moved through the teenage years these genre of songs and lyrics were abundant. Get into a relationship of love. The magic will happen. Then it is a matter of sustaining it. One's life is happy and fulfilled if you can hang on to that initial feeling.

The teenage years are a distant memory. The music of the Four Seasons come up on my Spotify stream as "Oldies" or maybe even "Ancient!" As my relationship of marriage approaches 41 years the lyrics of "Let's Hang On" are telling, but also unrealistic. It seems there is a desire (at least a little one) to hang on to what was. The romance. The passion. The spontaneity. The reality of multiple changes, as well as recent, significant "in your face" changes breaks the illusion of hanging on to anything. What is real is today. As Frankie Valli sang, "getting in good" is fantasy. What takes priority today is commitment, sustainability, grace, and perspective. Together this helps me maintain sanity. 

On another level, I see our culture in disarray because of the notion, both perceived and promoted of "hanging on." Some people want it like it used to be. There are established norms and perspective that dare not be changed. The belief that "hanging on" will provide some type of stability and ultimate salvation is sacrosanct to many. Now my Spotify stream can open my life to music from around the world. I do find some comfort in the melodies of the past, but they are from a different era. The lyrics, (other than a few) have no context in the reality of today. I discover new perspectives and new stimulation by letting go.

On Saturday (Aug 20, 2022), I participated in a 70 mile gravel bike event. It was in an area of Minnesota filled with lakes, wetlands, fields, trees, and copious climbs. I had a past connection to this area. While some of the scenery brought back memories, the terrain taxed leg muscles that had not been previously called upon. About two thirds through the event I began getting extremely painful cramps running along my inner thighs. I attempted to drink more fluids, ingest additional electrolytes, munch a few salty calories and continue pushing forward. The pain would subside briefly and then without warning become excruciating to the point of getting off the bike. I had a time in my head to finish the event. I believed if I could hang on, continue doing the same things to alleviate the cramping (which WERE NOT working), I could get the  miles completed. In frustration I stopped, got off the bike, and attempted to stretch the cramps away. I looked at my phone. One of my daughters had called. I did something different. I called my daughter. Walked a  little, but focused on conversation, not getting the miles completed. I was not going to win a trophy nor 

Getting to completion
move ahead in the line of salvation. After about 20 minutes of conversation and relaxation it was time to complete the miles. I did something different. I let go of previous expectations, embraced the moment realizing conversation with my daughter had more benefit than a set time of completion, and pedaled with a new perspective.  

70 miles completed. Thigh muscles are slowly releasing their tightness. Hanging on to past expectations were left in a ditch in Otter Tail County.

My next post will be on September 25.

Saturday, August 6, 2022


One of many dotting the area
An often used phrase in the Northern Great Plains says, "There are two seasons, winter and road construction." Along with orange barrels and cones are the familiar detour signs. I am coming to believe that orange is overtaking green as the color of summer.

According to the following are definitions of the word "detour": 1. a roundabout or circuitous way or course, especially one used temporarily when the main route is closed 2. a deviation from a direct, usually shorter route or course of action." 

For the most part I have found detours to be frustrating. When driving I want to arrive at the destination as quickly as possible. With the relatively high price of gasoline, efficiency is also a key factor. The advent of navigation via phone applications has aided me on numerous occasions. This past week I used online navigation even with some familiarity of the area. A 
change of plans brought a change of route finding. Gravel roads were to be a part of the change. Navigation indicated that I was to go straight for eight miles. After one mile, a large sign alerted me, "Bridge Closed." I had driven across, as well as biked across this beautiful, old bridge in previous years. Forging ahead and cresting the hill I noticed barriers on both sides of the bridge. Both barriers had been pushed to one side 
leaving an inviting lane of passage. Being in a hurry I contemplated driving across. Caution reigned and I turned around on the narrow road with steep ditches. Had I been on a bike I would have more fully explored my options. The bridge deck looked solid. Back to the intersection where the initial sign was located I disregarded the spoken navigation (I was told to turn onto a dead end road) and charted my own route. The rural, gravel intersection did not have any detour signs!

Directional arrows
This situation along with a few others which happened this week provided ample contemplation. When highway engineers design roads, is their default developing the most direct route? When the Interstate Highway System began in 1956, these four lane, limited access ribbons of thick concrete were meant to be straight and efficient. Portions were also designed to be used as runways for the lumbering military bombers of that era. I am thankful to highway engineers. When driving I appreciate straight and efficient! Yet the question bounces around in my mind, "Why do highway engineers control where I go?"

The pondering continues for me. Who determines that a detour exists? Who controls the narrative of what is normative? Who determines efficiency? What is temporary and what is permanent? Are these decisions left to lawmakers, celebrities, influencers, opinion polls, medical professionals, clergy, economists, engineers, etc.? Is determining the correct and efficient course for life a collective decision, an individual decision, or a combination? I am grateful for the experiences and insights of others as useful guides. Sharing experiences and stories adds shape, color, and vibrancy to the fabric of life. Why is it that when I veer from the set course I am on a detour? I am plotting my own course. It may not be straight and efficient, but it is mine to experience. Am I less than normal when I go exploring on my own? Is staying within the lanes of "normative", taking the route of least resistance, forfeiting personal growth? Are autonomous driving vehicles the logical extension of humans mindlessly following one another?

Similar vehicles in a straight line

I will continue to use online navigation to visualize routes and options. I will also inquire of others in order to hear their experiences and glean from their insights. I will no longer be frustrated by what others decide is a detour. I will live fully to explore and appreciate the journey ahead!