They say that it's always easier to write about a topic that you feel strongly about, so I'm going to kick off this weekly series of opinion pieces with a theme that is close to my heart...
We've all got our priorities messed up, and while it might not be the death of us, there is certainly something that has died and started to rot. It happens to most of us during our teenage years, a time when wearing the right clothes and doing what's expected of us to "get ahead" is the norm - study hard, get married and make babies, aim for the job that pays well, and you'll be doing damn fine, right? The large majority of us swallow that pill without even asking for a gulp of water to wash it down, and it doesn't take long for things like bank payments for that $40,000 truck, shopping for the latest clothes, and going to a job the you likely hate to take the place of the fun that you used to have with friends when on your mountain bike. It doesn't have to be like that, though, and the fact that you're here, right now, means that there is a good chance that you might be open to the idea of a revolt of sorts. No, a military coup won't be required, and you don't even need a black ski mask for this rebellion. What do you need to do, then? Only to ride your f*cking bike.
I bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills
With a truckload of hundred thousand dollar bills
Man came by to hook up my cable TV
We settled in for the night my baby and me
We switched 'round and 'round 'til half-past dawn
There was fifty-seven channels and nothin' on
Bruce Springsteen might have had no idea when he penned "57 Channels" that the figure wouldn't cover the number needed to harbour reality shows about a bunch of sisters married to the same man, old hairy men in camouflage who made millions by imitating a bird, or programming like Big Brother that strives to drill home how lying to other liars can win you half a million dollars. Yes, The Boss' lyrics might be an analogy for an empty and soon to be failed relationship, but when taken in a much more literal sense, they strike a nerve in me in a way that only trying to watch said television for a few hours can do. I'm not quite to the point of using a .44 Magnum to silence the beast (as happens in the third verse
) but I've certainly been tempted to put my SPD clad riding shoe through the screen. The thing is, though, it's not the television's fault. Nor is it the smartphone that constantly needs to be updated to run even faster so you can save a few seconds while checking Facebook to find out what your friends ate for dinner, seconds that most people are likely to squander by sitting in traffic anyways. And, as much as we like to use them as scapegoats, it's also not the fault of the famous faces that "grace" the cover of tabloid magazines that we're forced to look at when paying for groceries at the check-out counter. Sorry, we can't really pin the blame on the Kardashians (although I'm sure their entire clan is guilty of something worthy of a tarring and feathering, and I might turn on the TV for that one
). No, the problem is you. It's me. It's your wife, your husband, your neighbor, and your neighbor's uncle. We lost the plot ages ago and we all seem to be just fine with that fact.
|We stopped following our passions at some point, and instead started to follow the tracks that were laid down by people who don't know what's best for us, yet we still look up to those who stayed true to their own passions. Wayne Gretzky, the garbage man. Will Smith, the accountant. Michael Schumacher, the valet - those don't sound right, do they? Do they sound any better when your name is substituted in place?|
What do we do now? I suspect that the majority of us have already dug ourselves sizeable holes that are much deeper than the recommended six feet and filled with things like four bedroom homes for our two-person families, giant televisions beaming the latest episode of Big Brother straight into your living room at near-life size proportions that make the family dog nervous, and a wardrobe selection that's big enough to keep you from having to wash any clothing for at least two months, all things that make those memories of responsibility-free days in the saddle a bit foggy. It's not too late, though, regardless of how little time you think you have to spare, and your personal uprising most certainly doesn't require walking away from your current life of relative luxury. But remember, your time is literally running out. There is an overwhelming chance that you won't live comfortably into your nineties and then die in your sleep a happy man, yet we all seem to have convinced ourselves that will be the case. No, there is a good chance that the big C is going to take you out long before that. Or heart disease. Or a massive Cadillac driven by someone who was lucky enough to see their ninetieth birthday.
Wake up tomorrow morning and call work to tell them that you're sick and won't be coming in. Pawn your kids off on someone for a few hours. Cancel the appointment that you didn't want to go to anyways. Stop pretending to be so goddamned responsible if all you want to do is go ride your bike around in circles, pop wheelies, and lay down huge skids. The truth is that it doesn't matter, and that the world will continue to go around. What does matter, though, is that you'll be out riding your bike and that you'll feel damn good about it. It's not too late to revolt, and if only a single person who reads this does so, I'll consider the time spent writing these words and the ride I missed to do so as being well worth it.
I can see by your eyes friend you're just about gone
Fifty-seven channels and nothin' on...
Photos: Dan Milner