Who the Hell is maadjurguer?

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I like to ski, mountain bike, drink beer, cook and listen to any jam band I can get my hands on; all while making a complete ass of myself. Hopefully this catharsis is as interesting to others as it is to me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A fearful paradox

I find myself fearful at the thoughts of those who dare not explore beyond what they can not see.  I am wary of a world where a person does not feel free to explore beyond what they already know. I have an idea of what to expect on my next ride: the turns are familiar as are the climbs up the hills. The trees I bank around with green foliage scratching at my leaning body are familiar to me. Less familiar is what is beyond that hill to my right where the faint double tracks disappears into the scrub of the desert. I ride my route as I often do, spending 2 hours on a loop that is predictable just like my work day, but I hunger for more.

I want to be fearful of not the fears themselves, but of the unknowns that still exist within my mind. I want to be terrified as I lie awake at night, unable to sleep. The idea of what is beyond that ridge prevents me from fading into the sleeping nothingness. It tears at the active part of my brain, straining against my bodies need for rest. It claws at me, much like the trees on my ride.

I have become my fear these days, predictable as a clock. I move to a rhythm not of my own, but of a company that pays me twice a month at the same time every month. I board a plane at a prescribed time and arrive to pick up my car in much the same way. I sit in the same seat on the airplane each time, looking out the window in seat 4A. I take the same seat in the shuttle from the airport to the rental counter, placing my carry-on luggage in the same slot upon boarding. I have the same room at the Marriott when I stay there...the window faces west and when I sleep in that bed, my feet face south. I wake at the same time every morning and I eat the same meal before arriving in the morning at the same time to sit at the same desk. I am fearful of predictability.

Out there, nothing is predictable.   My mind searches for hint of water, my fears multiply with each passing mile I travel. Where will I sleep tonight, will there be shelter from the wind, will it rain and will I have to dig for water. The fear in the moment is not a fear at all. It is the feeling of my innermost being doing what it does best. It is problem solving, it is planning, it is weighing personal and bodily risk against benefit...something it does better than anything else.  It is sharp and focused when it deals with these tasks. Will my knee continue to hurt when I wake, do I have enough food, what if the route I've picked dies out......????

Some call the life I now find myself in as comfortable and successful....but to me it feels like a slow death. To be comfortable is to die....to be fearful is to live. I am fearful of being comfortable because in this paradox, I am fearful of not feeling fear. This fear drives me into the unknown in search of something new. My fear takes me onto that ridge to peer over it into the expanse of the unknown. My fear is my friend....and right now, that faded doubletrack is calling me....

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Coming down from the full effect of a week off is never easy....especially if one spends it eating and drinking their way through Paris over New Years.

From the colorful flower shops on the street corner selling spring buds.....

.....the locks above the river Seine symbolizing a love locked away.....

....the luthier shop passed every night on our way out into the city, lit brightly from within just off the metro stop next to our appartment...

....to the Pont Neuf bridging all of Paris history.

The milky brown waters of the Seine flow rapidly through this city carrying with it an arc of human history.

The vertical and palatial stature in every building, from the Louvre at sunset....

....the domes of Sacre Coeur on New Years Day...

...to the arching structures of Notre Dame and its flying buttresses at night; all contain a physical and metaphorical arc.

You can see this arc in the everday......Parisians taking communion at noon inside Notre Dame.....

....bathed in the colored hues from stained glass windows framed in an arch of stone.  

An angels shadow even rests upon an arch....set in stone and light as much as it is in darkness.

Written in stone, standing at the spot the guillotine served its capitol purpose; the 3200 yr old Luxor obelisk explains a past that most can't read....

....reminder that history here as in all places is constantly arcing from one pivotal event to another.  But unlike most places in the states...the human history arcs deep from the time of Pharaohs, the Roman Empire, the birth of Democracy and the exile of self proclaimed Emperors....the last of which is entombed beneath an arcing dome of gold at Les Invalides...spotlighted against the first sunset of 2013.

Everything in this city seemed to arc to something else, creating a focus on what came before and after; what was underneath and what was supported above.  Sometimes it seemed it was the very clouds that were hoisted above the city...pierced by the sparkling Eiffel Tower and adding a glow to the otherwise dark mist above.

From atop the Arc de Triomphe, the lights below in the streets create 12 radial swaths that pierce the darkness and create the city of light....red and white course through the city breathing life into her as I stayed focused on trying to capture the scene.

It was here I felt her hand press upon the small of my back and whisper in my ear, reminding me to aim a little higher this time to capture the yellow glow from the tower lights.....a glow that projected a whirling dervish above the Paris skyline....deep purple of the setting sky exposed for seconds at a time in the spaces the clouds had yet to fill.  The satisfying click-thunk of a 3 second exposure filled my ears...she liked this shot.  Click-thud, Click-thud.....small variations in F-Stop and film speed were tweaked providing for what was a growing conundrum....so many shots, so few words....her so beautiful.

I saw a dozen more shots from my perch there....but I walked away from my spot along the railing and turned towards her, looking into her smiling eyes. This was not the movie moment you see on the Eiffel....but it was our own, here on the Arc, in the cold winter mist of a lowering sky.  All I could see beyond the radial sprawl of brake lights and taxi cabs making their way up and down the Champs, were those eyes from the city of lights....bridging the gap between darkness and light.

Eyes that looked on as Parisians came to honor it's fallen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier....an eternal flame protected by the arc above...

After a stroll down the Champs Elysées, we look back at the Arc to see the reflective glow of traffic and lights projected onto the smooth stone and rain...

A growing hunger began to gnaw at me.....how can I possibly tell this story, I asked myself....we had done our best to cover Hemingway's visible feast.....a veritable 'how to guide' for living....but well said and best left alone....

....watching the traffic go by at a cafe off of Bastille with drinks in hand; bikes and cars fly by early on New Years Eve.

We had walked all over the neo-gothic concepts of the city growing on top of the ruins of itself...Hugo's Paris has been so well-tread upon, I don't dare walk in his footsteps.  The Louvre with it's garish Pyramid hoisted onto the courtyard of the Palace...itself built atop the ruins of a fortress....it's laughable to think I can compete.

Should I say nothing and let the pictures speak?

It seemed trite at best and ignorantly futile at worst to even try to spill words on paper when so much has been said by so many exemplars of the written word.  Can't I just say Bonne année....happy 2013?

Perhaps my thinking about this conundrum of sorts, my struggle to explain the metaphorical arc of optimism growing in us as we initially threw our plates and senses to the city to fill....the culmination of New Years......followed by the patient and cultured descent towards our last day here....perhaps this IS the story!

As I descend from flight level 33 into Chicago O'Hare, I'm left with the feeling that I don't want to come down....I want to go back...I want to stay there on the arch, on that night, with those balmy clouds confining the rays of light in radial patterns which only converge on us.  High above Paris on an arch, bathed in the nexus of light and arc...my memory lives.