I sat just below the trail and gazed at a pristine valley in front of me last weekend in the middle of a lazy fall ride I joined in on after much debate within. I love Kenosha to Breck. It was my first overnight bikepacking trip three years ago. On every previous trip, I have felt alive, inquisitive and free. I imagined wings on my back and reverted to my ten year-old self at some point every time. Why, then, was I just sitting here with a blank semi-stare, clearly NOT present? I am not sure where my mind was, just not there. The trail was like the Cherry Creek mall on the weekend before Christmas. Hoards of people.
I thought of taking a picture of the parking lot and shoulder of 285 that looked (sticking with the mall image here) like, yeah, the parking lot at Cherry Creek. And I thought about taking a picture of the trees. But I had no desire to replicate the 50 or so pictures I had seen posted on Facebook the day before. Yawn. So, instead, I took a picture of the results of my short standoff with an Aspen tree on the descent to the parking lot:
Why did I just post my bruised shoulder? Yes. As humans we want to share, talk and laugh about our triumphs and follies. And it has become kind of fun to show "damn, I was lucky but check this out" pictures. I love it when it involves voice and facial expression but I also know that the world and life and social interaction is different. That I accept and feel fine with.
But my own, personal struggle that bothers me is the ever-lingering (almost annoying) desire to take a picture to let everyone else know what I am doing. Why do I feel this?
Where has this demon been lurking and why do I let it steal the moment from me? If I don't share my view of the yellow trees between Kenosha and Breck, is it not as valuable? Is the current moment not satisfying enough? Am I looking outward for validation that yes, indeed, I am having fun?
I honestly don't even want to take a picture, maybe in this case because I have seen so many already, yet I feel an (urge? habit? duty?) to do just that. Isn't that strangely approaching an addiction-like definition? Is that addictive part of me taking away from what I strive/love/yearn to do--be present and aware? Instead, I am distracted by the part of me that wants to record/share it. Wait, then am I even actually "here"?
Whoa. Slow down, Cowgirl. Calm the brain.
I closed my eyes and looked deep inside. I tuned out the voices, footsteps and noise from all the people passing by, laid back in the grass and took about ten deep breaths. I opened my eyes and watched the white clouds above me and the black mass of clouds approaching from the west. My nostrils felt the slight tingle from the cool air of an approaching thunderstorm. I just lied there for about 20 minutes thinking of, well, nothing really.
Then I sat up and saw so much more than a bunch of yellow trees. I saw intricate details and patterns in scars on the trunks, I saw the color gradients on individual leaves as well as entire stands. I saw and inhaled and felt each second as it passed. I thanked God for the opportunity I had to be exactly where I was at exactly this moment and the light it brought to my soul. It took effort to bring my mind to this place but I was instantly filled with joy that I was still capable. Nature brings me here when I let her. I am fully aware, free of distraction, free of expectations and truly cherish the gift of simply being, living and existing. I want nothing more. There is nothing better.
And that, is the main reason I quit Facebook. My addictive tendencies are stirred enough by social media that they steal the present moment from me. Similar to the way worry, stress and exhaustion functions to do the same thing, I can't deactivate my "worry, stress and exhaustion accounts" (heh, wouldn't that be cool?), I can only manage them and reduce them. They have been part of my existence since I was old enough to worry about an upcoming spelling test in the first grade and they will always be around. Those I know very well, I know their tricks and tendencies. They are old demons. I know the punches that will knock those bastards silly. But this newer demon, ahhhh, he pulls some sneaky shit. He tries to steal my mountains by keeping my brain occupied with recording the moment. Thankfully, I can learn ways to knock him to the ground by hitting 'deactivate account,'
This is not a brand new battle for me. I have been fighting it for almost 4 years but it has grown a lot in 2014 and I have just chosen to write about semi-recently. If you have read my blog for a long time you may remember these as well as many thoughts from the Tour Divide postings:
The above are just the published version of my struggle. Some who know me personally have engaged in lengthy conversations about it, know the issue weighs on my mind and have watched me swear off it only to gradually slide back. I told my roommate about two weeks ago that I could feel a Facebook hiatus coming on and my target date was October 1st. Yesterday, two days earlier, I socked the demon in the mouth.
I have learned it is in my best interest to not use the word never, but I am pretty sure this will be quite a bit longer than a 30 day hiatus like the three times before. And (all of you reading will applaud this) I am done talking about it. But I need to do some last minute processing, which is the reason for this post.
Again, this is a personal struggle I need to come to terms with. I have some work ahead of me. It is a habit and habits take time to break. I still want to talk about the places I love and I still want to write about them, but I have to make my heart right with it. I need to live/pedal/run/climb/explore/laugh/cry/play for me. Me. Like I used to when the thought of posting something did not even exist. I need to rid thoughts of "Oooooh, that would be a good profile or cover photo" and the term "blog fodder" from my brain. Live first, document second. I am not judging anyone, I am explaining my own issues that plague me. If you relate, you get what I am saying. If you look at it differently, that is fine too. There is no need to agree on this as everyone is completely entitled to their own relationship with social media. The point of this is to reiterate to myself that I need to look within and slowly untangle my grey matter from this habit/addiction/demon--whatever the term is. Maybe someday I will be right with it, but until then, I think I have some internal exploring and realigning to do.
But for now, as humbling and embarrassing (yet cathartic in a way)as it is to admit: I know that it steals my present moment and brings (crappy-to-me feeling) urges to record it, share it and have it acknowledged. And for something that brings such things: I have two words:
Especially when it involves the mountains, trees and trails of Colorado.
Oh, here is what Wheels had to say about the whole matter: