My Unfortunate Update

As so often happens in life, plans do not go as hoped, mistakes are made, and compromises must be reached. I have had such an experience with my bike tour that I was planning this summer. As I covered in My (super weird) bike setup, I got my bike second-hand from BICAS, a wonderful bike co-op in Tucson, AZ.
This bike was in okay condition, however the tires and brakes were definitely not suitable for a long term tour and the shifting system was too complicated for me as well.
In the end, the whole thing ended up being too complicated for me. I would like to preface this story by saying that I know I’m not always a clever man.

 

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This is what failure looks like

 

I won’t go into great detail here, but what basically ended up happening was that I would unscrew one thing, and ten things would fall off the bike, none of which I had any idea what purpose they served or the original order they were in. I would frantically consult YouTube hoping for anything that could help repair the damage I had done, but the more I tried, the worse it got. By the end of it I had a table chock full of random metal components and not a clue on what to do with any of it. It was definitely not one of my prouder moments.

At this point, I resolved to make one important change to my bike tour idea. I am not going to bring a bike along. So it’s not really a bike tour, it’s a hike tour now.
The reasoning for doing this is that I clearly do not have the expertise to maintain a bike as of right now, so using one as my main vehicle to travel the country would not be a smart idea. I can take classes at BICAS and learn everything I could ever need to know about bikes. I may very well do that when I return to Tucson, but the trip is not ending just because I don’t have a bike. I had planned for this contingency, and if anything I am a tiny bit relieved because walking incredible distances is one thing I have always excelled at. The itinerary is obviously going to have to change, as it would likely take about a year for me to walk that route. Instead I am going to head straight for California and walk up the Pacific Crest Trail (If you haven’t heard of it, look it up because it’s pretty amazing).

I would like to point out that while my attempt at fixing a bike was a complete failure, that does not constitute a failure in my travel plans in any way. I would suggest that having fluid plans is much better for things of this nature, as life can throw some really unexpected curveballs at very inopportune moments. Getting caught up in the details is a really good way to set yourself up for disappointment.

Also, as far as I can tell I’ll be leaving within a month. Since I’m not taking my bike, I pretty much have all the gear I need except a good pair of hiking boots and perhaps a few random sundries. Once I have my full kit together I’ll post that up here along with my checklist just in case anyone wants to see what gear I’m using.
Lastly, I hope this information is useful, or at least entertaining, to those who read it. My point in sharing this, aside from the fact that I enjoy it, is that I am sure others out there can relate to me in my endeavors. If that’s the case, I hope you learn from my mistakes and triumphs as I share them because I am absolutely certain that there will be many more of both in equal measure.

 

How to Stay Sane

I know for some more than others, it is a day to day ordeal just to manage the maelstrom that is our chaotically ordered, often baffling landscape of a mind. For me, this is especially true during times of my life in which my days are constricted to a schedule, as I usually fly by the seat of my pants when left to my own devices. In this particular moment in my life, I am working so that I can raise money for my upcoming travel tour. This means that not only am I contractually bound by the company I work for (currently Wal-Mart), but I am also bound by my own desire to go see the world. What this means for me is that I can’t just go do things on a whim, I must always be conscious of the fact that I have obligations to fill and I have to keep a structured life to have a reasonable chance of maintaining my current position.

For me, this is a major source of stress, and in an already incredibly overactive mind, stress and anxiety tends to exacerbate the problem into gargantuan proportions. Add in the fact that I’m an introvert in a society that demands my participation, and that I’m a wanderer that is bound to one place for the moment, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster if a day should go particularly wrong or I wake up in a bad mood.
This is why I have to have coping methods, and I keep many of them so that I’m always prepared. These are techniques that could be used by anybody that suffers from stress and/or anxiety. Here are a few of my most used methods.

  • Communing with Nature
    This is always my first step when I feel overwhelmed. On any regular day, a brisk walk among the trees and brush will rejuvenate me and leave me feeling brighter. When things get particularly rough, or if I just want to go into maximum relaxation mode, I’ll go to a park, find a place that’s fairly hidden, and set up my hammock and tarp to spend the whole day chilling and practicing various bushcraft and survival techniques. Nothing but the sun, the birds, and the shade to keep me company. You don’t have to go all out like I do. Taking a hike through the woods, watching ducks on a pond, or simply sitting on the grass in your back yard can often be enough to bring you back to a good head space.

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    Nature will heal what ails you.

  • Art
    Sure, you may not be Picasso, but nobody is asking you to be anyone but yourself. You can make art, no matter what you think. Just because you can’t draw doesn’t mean you can’t make cool stuff. There are all sorts of crafts out there that you can do that are super fun and you will surprise yourself with just how crafty you can be! I promise, I know what many of you are thinking because I used to think the same thing. ‘I’m just not an artistic person, I don’t have that type of talent’. As our president would say:
    Wrong!”
    I have never considered myself to be an artist and I never took a serious art class. I barely even looked at YouTube videos before I started. A friend of mine was doing art with little wooden shapes like flat squares or hearts, and she’d cover the wood with metallic tape like what they use in plumbing, and she used tools to engrave little patterns in it, or put tiny objects underneath the tape and then smoothed it down to make it look embossed. Then she’d dab a bit of alcohol ink on it and it all came together nicely. I tried this craft myself and this is one of the things I came up with. Try this, or take a look on YouTube and see what other crafters are doing. There is something out there for everybody so don’t give up!

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    This is one easy, fun way to make art.

     

  • Music
    You don’t have to be Mozart to make great music! Music is one of those fundamental things that unite all humans, as we all recognize and respond deeply to chords, rhythms, and melodies when we hear them. The wonderful thing about it is that you do not need ANY background in music to begin making music. There are a plethora of musical instruments that any beginner could pick up, learn the basics in a matter of minutes, and be playing simple tunes within the hour. After that, each day you do it you get better until before you know it, you’re jamming out as impressed onlookers stop and listen to your beautiful music. A few instruments that I know of that are good for beginners are Native American flutes, kalimbas, ukuleles, harmonicas, and hand drums. I personally love my NA flute collection and my kalimba, and I play them pretty much every day. Here is me playing my kalimba, and this is me on the flute. Sometimes I’ll bust out a little tune on my harmonica, especially when I’m on very long hikes. For most people I recommend the kalimba, and to lightweight travelers the NA flute and harmonica are easy to pack. Either way, get yourself a musical instrument. It will be one of the best decisions you ever make.

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    There’s music in you, and now is the time to let it out.

  • Philosophy
    Philosophy really works for so many things in life. When I’ve been depressed, philosophy has helped me out of the dark abyss, and when I have soared too close to the sun, it has helped guide me down before I fall. The world of philosophy is incredibly immense and complex, but most philosophies seem to boil down to the same content, much like in religion. It truly does wonders in soothing the overactive mind, as I often find myself thinking about life, death, and everything in between, and philosophy simply gives me the tools to think about these things constructively. I prefer Eastern philosophy, but only because it does the best job of helping me to cope with my depression. I have heard it said before that Zen is existentialism but happier, and I can see the truth in that. I would recommend starting with The Art of Peace, which one of my friends who is an anthropologist said that one could base their entire philosophy upon that book and live a pretty good life. I think that’s true but it’s definitely worth it to delve as deep into it as you can. Søren Kierkegaard is excellent for a dark day, and Plato’s Republic helped me consider the way our society is set up in a whole new way. Also there are some good videos on YouTube from the School of Life which gives great basic rundowns on different philosophers.

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    Infinite wisdom that fits in your pocket

    These are just a few ways that I keep myself afloat in this crazy world. There is of course a lot that I’m leaving out, such as reading, being active, eating well, and socializing with loved ones, but perhaps I will cover those subjects in a later article. I hope that I can inspire someone who also deals with these issues to find better coping techniques, because there are many and you don’t have to choose between doping yourself up with pills or suffering. That’s just my take on it, I try to do everything I can to keep from having to take pills. I tend to choose natural remedies first before resorting to pharmaceuticals. That’s also no judgement on people who do take meds, and I believe those people can benefit from these activities as well.
    In summation, do what makes you happy, explore all the options, and most of all, HAVE FUN WITH IT!