Monday, April 11, 2016

Big Ideas--Small Ambition

The pin flags are in.  This coming Saturday is the first big trail day in Flat Hollow this year.  I’m hoping that we’ll knock out the last few hundred feet.  It will all depend on how many people show up.  We have the tools.  It looks like we have the weather.  And we’re starting early.
If we don’t finish the loop on Saturday I’m certain it won’t take much more to close the Flat Hollow loop.  There are a lot of little pieces that need polishing, but we’re almost there.  I took my girls up for a hike to the arch on Sunday afternoon.  At one point my wife asked me: “How are you going to feel when you go up there and there are a bunch of people?”
She knows me too well.  I am sort of anti-social.  I like to do my riding alone.  I like to go out on the trails when there are no other people.  I ride early, or late, or take a work day off simply so I can avoid the semblance of a crowd.  I often fantasize about the apocalypse. 
Anyway, I hadn’t truly pondered this question myself.  Off the cuff I answered that I would actually feel satisfaction at having created a trail that people would travel to ride.  But would I?  The altruistic fa├žade I put out there is thin.  I do most of the things I do for ulterior motives.  If I could build miles of mountain bike trails just for myself I would gladly do that and only share them with a few other people.  I realize it takes a collective effort or a lot of money (which I don’t have) to make things like this happen. 
While I was away in Arizona I did a lot of thinking.  With my bum ankle I wasn’t able to explore or escape sessions like I usually do when I am in a big city for a conference.  So I sat through boring sessions and had to occupy my mind and I spent time loafing about my hotel room reading and thinking.  I read all of Stephen King’s On Writing while on the trip.  I finished my many months long journey through Harry Caudill’s Night Comes to the Cumberland and I read a big chunk of Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.  On top of reading those books I did sit through some compelling sessions.  The one on rural decline got my synapses humming.  The one on citizen led change was another great one.
From out of all of this synaptic activity I came away with a few pages of notes on my phone and a lot of ideas.  I’ve yet been able to pin any of them down into blog posts, articles, or my languishing novel.  Though I will say I have solved the plotline of the novel.  I just need to put meat on those bones now.
One gem that I took away was “what I want out of life.”
I wrote out a few lines.  Simplistic.  But I feel as if this short list has distilled my wants and needs down to the good stuff.  So without further ado, here we go:

  • I want to live, work, play, and worship in the same community.
  • I want a career that has manageable levels of stress and produces meaningful results in the world.
  • I don’t want to have to worry about paying my bills.
  • I want a good quality of life for my family which includes reasonable access to the community amenities that most people expect including health care, government services, nice public spaces, dining and recreational opportunities.
  • I want to live in a community of like-minded people.

That pretty much sums up what I want in life.  I don’t necessarily want a lot of land.  I don’t necessarily want a big house or a lot of stuff.  I do want access to mountain bike trails because I love mountain biking and I recognize that it is by far the best proprioceptive therapy I can gift myself with. 
I don’t want to be the guy that fights to get trails built or to improve quality of life in the community.  If that can be my career in the community in which I live and my career aligns with my personal values then I’m okay with being that guy.  But it’s not something I specifically aspire to.  Unfortunately I feel compelled to do those things because no one else is championing them even though most people I know express a desire for the same kinds of things I would like to see in our community.
I will be happy when I go out for a Saturday morning mountain bike ride in Bald Rock and see other mountain bikers riding and enjoying themselves.  Will I go out early and see them as I’m coming back in to the trailhead after my ride?  Likely.

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