Sunday, July 30, 2023

Old Dog - New Tricks

It served well!
Aging provides an opportunity to coast with all that is familiar and to complain about all that is changing. Questions arise as to the necessity of change. Frustrations erupt when cornered by others prodding me to change. Can I not be left alone to gracefully slide into decrepitude?  Chided by an adult child, as well as decoding the cryptic intimations of my spouse, a new (well, it has 3,000 miles on the odometer) vehicle was purchased. The last time I drove a new transport away from a dealership was three decades ago. 

Air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, and rear defrost are necessary. "Less that needs fixing," was my antiquated mantra. These words also help weave the thin shroud disguising my economic rule of mass depreciation as soon as four wheels leave the boundary of the dealership. The old belief patterns had served, as well as saved. All of the labor to solidify this mindset was quickly cast aside. The mission or possibly the obsession for new imprisoned me. I finally submitted to my captor. So much for sliding gracefully into decrepitude!

Along with air conditioning, Bluetooth, and rear defrost comes: dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure

Words, not letters.
alerts, heated seats, automatic high beams, and forty miles of electric distance. Little hatches adorn both upper rear panels. One allows for a fuel nozzle. The other allows for the alien looking charging plug. The old fashioned "glove box" contains thick bound manuals with minuscule print and drawings explaining the features. It was strongly suggested to download the app in order to increase access to features and updates. Decrepitude was not found in the app!

I did not expect so many internal changes, either. My head is on a swivel looking at the multitude of circumstances which can damage this wheeled wonder. I obsess over keeping the colorful graphics in the proper areas which indicate maximum mileage. I ponder how often to wash it and where to wash it. And the most satisfying, yet disturbing change: I am honing defensive driving skills anticipating the action of other drivers. My initial, internal verbal response to the other driver is, "What an a**h#le!" It is now morphing to congratulate myself for being aware. Instead of cursing, I applaud myself for the insight into the behaviors of others. 

This may be my last vehicle purchase. The investment in extended warranty and service/maintenance contracts should enable a long term relationship with this vehicle.  It also spells the end of a meaningful relationship with the repair shop mechanics. By the time the contracts expire I will either no longer be driving or I will board a self-driving ride-share to my destination. At that time I will once again consider my slide into decrepitude!


Cartagena, Columbia

Sunday, July 16, 2023

This Is Only a Test

Tests captured my attention. In the overall flow of life tests were significant speed bumps which changed my focus. Once completed, life would resume its easy going rhythm. With the completion of eight years of post secondary education tests were placed on a high and out of the way shelf. I knew what I needed to know and I did not need to increase my knowledge.

A remnant of the Cold War with its penchant of nuclear holocaust were public service ads on radio and television from the Emergency Broadcast System. The portion of the announcement etched into memory is, "This is only a test. If this had been an actual emergency...." In an actual emergency detailed instructions would have come from the Civil Defense. Actions including shelter locations and updates from governmental agencies would have been forthcoming. Emergencies change the rhythm of life. Most of our days are only a test with little need to be concerned about emergencies.

Driving an EV (a test drive) was a thrill! It was not a significant speed bump, but the vehicle had plenty of speed. The representative from the dealership instructed me on a small portion of its features. The rep drove the vehicle for about 10 miles, all the while explaining the system, showing off the acceleration, technological driving features, and providing basic EV education. Getting into the driver's seat for the return trip to the dealership was my test. Not only did I pass the test, but I passed many other vehicles along the way. The experience was awesome! Is it an emergency to purchase this vehicle? NO. I have a very capable eleven year old vehicle with over 200,000 miles. It is reliable. I know about internal combustion engines. I know about its creaks and quirks. I know what I need to know without the mind numbing array of   

Toyota bZ4X
electronics. I know about the workings of gas station/convenience stores. I know nothing about charging stations nor their locations. My life can easily slip back into its easy going rhythm.

Along with many people, I find it not only easy but comforting to have a calm flow of life. As the joke is told in the Upper Midwest, "How many people does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer, "Change?! Why do we need to change?" The resistance to change or even to prepare for the test runs deep in human nature.  The idea that once the test is completed there is nothing left to learn is powerful. The denial, the push back, the acrimony expressed when we are confronted about impending predicaments in culture, climate, and global community indicate our unwillingness to prepare for or even learn from tests. 

Confronted with my own resistance to move beyond what I know and believe is becoming too uncomfortable. It is an actual emergency. Thus I will seek, listen, discern, and respond to instructions that are presented from a variety of sources. This is not about protection and defense. It is about embracing the current spectrum of life, expanding the base of knowledge, and moving forward.  

Sunday, July 2, 2023

The Bright Side of Life

Ryan finishes the
Lutsen 99er
In 1979, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" written by Eric Idle, was performed in Monty Python's Life of Brian. The song was also included in the 2005 musical, "Monty Python's Spamalot." Is there something that makes the song so enduring? Here are some of the lyrics:                                                               

Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad, other things just make you swear and curse.....If life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten, and that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing."  Chorus, "Always look on the bright side of life."

No matter when a picture is take, my friend Ryan always has a smile. Whether it be mud splatter, an ice beard, or  a bloodied leg or forearm he exhibits a genuine smile. Maybe it comes from the enjoyment of movement on two wheels? Yet, I have seen this smile many times when he is not on one of his bikes. Ryan has a full repertoire of emotions, but somehow he grounds himself with a smile. 

A hiking adventure in early May, close to Colombia's Caribbean coast tested my endurance. It was not so 
Saturated, but made it
through the first day
much the physicality of hiking, as it was the bodily adjustment to the tropical climate. The heat and humidity meant I was constantly wet. This was not just some unsightly perspiration, but soaked shirts, pants, socks, and hiking boots for five days. In the midst of my self-consciousness and some ribbing from fellow hikers and guides, I realized my bodily mechanisms were working to keep me moving forward. My sweating was beyond my control. Even though my limits were tested, I could easily flash a smile. I had a functioning body, the ability to interact in a less than ideal setting, plenty of food and water, and a covered place to sleep every night. Plenty of reasons to brighten my face!

With a steady diet of media, my emotional, spiritual, and relational functions plummet faster than a roller coaster cresting the initial climb. I believe there are individuals, businesses, and organizations who want nothing more than for me to view the world as frightening. These sources benefit both in power and prosperity from providing toxic materials which nourish an attitude of despair and dependency.  It is easy to get caught in the thick of thin things. Arguing over minutiae is a distraction from living life. The number of people, situations, and things to cherish far outnumber those I am encouraged to curse. I am tempted at times to succumb to the constant reminder that life is not fair and others are getting preferential treatment. ENOUGH ALREADY! 

We all have choices. We all have life. We all are terminal. The question is, "How do each of us choose to see life ?" I will choose the bright side.

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" This link takes you to a YouTube clip of the song from the "Life of Brian." You may find it off-color or offensive. However, that is part of the Monty Python genre of humor.

Shorts, snow, and a smile!