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The Cool: Of Monsters and Of Men

Ducati Monster 696

Metamorphosis is the abrupt and conspicuous change in an animal’s biological structure and processes. As I rode in to work on a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning to coach our school’s rugby team, a story that M. told her littlest students kept cycling through my mind. She told them about how we came across a dragonfly just as it came out of its previous body. She asked the boys to imagine how traumatic it would be if you had suddenly awoken to find that your whole being had changed, to find that you now had wings. In a typical way, all of the boys imagined the wings, and all desired that they, too had wings. Not a single one could understand the trauma and emotional scarring such a change would possibly cause, nor should they; each boy wished to fly and the trauma would be irrelevant if he could finally fly. The life of a human man is not exactly the same.Santa Monica

I began to ride a motorcycle in 2008. During that year I metamorphosed in a different man based on a need to become three things: a man who believes in human freedom, a man who lives his life as a true artist, and a man who takes care of those he loves at the risk of the first two aspirations. I have found success and happiness. The year 2015 has been full of challenge and the returns for my efforts have been slow. Still, I push on and forward. I keep my hair long and my beard full. I listen to those who I care about and I try to understand those people who I might have once seen as enemies and monsters.

What about the cool? How can anyone remain cool as they age? We seen the failures of celebrity flood the media, and cringe at their plastic surgery, failed projects and desperate attempts to retain their cool. If those with endless resources cannot avoid the metamorphosis into elders, then how can a simple man avoid the mini-van life? I ride a Ducati Monster 696 that I have upgraded and modified for each of its six years of life. This season I reached for nostalgia and the dream of being able to ride across the United States on a Harley Davidson Fat Boy Lo. At the age of 42 I should accept my place in society and surrender the cool for a dignified retreat into the setting sunset of life. I never even made it into the local Harley dealer. I chose to remain who I am, because this is who I chose to be. Not all creatures need to gain their wings to fly.

Red-Tailed Hawk

As we watched the electric duo of Whitehorse play their music at Massey Hall last night, I felt weak, disappointed in myself, and a little lost. Clearly, they were achieving that which I have not: mastery of their instruments and lives as artists. They just had a child. They are still cool. What last night forced me to reflect upon is how insane it is for people to be stuck in the comparison wheel. We constantly see and experience how much better Person A is doing than we are. We then see Person B rise above us in another are. Person C kills at that other thing we do, too. Mass media and the internet does not help. I can check out a thousand people on YouTube who can do it, no matter what it is,  better than me. Therefore, to retain the cool becomes almost impossible. Unless…one accepts that the only way to be cool in the current day is to not care what other people can do, but rather focus inward on what we want to spend our lives doing.

Me? I am going to my tattoo artist to get a lion etched into my flesh this afternoon, and then maybe I will do some gardening in the evening. Maybe I will practice my forward rolls on the banjo or maybe I will rest, which is something I never get to do when I am running the wheel of comparison.  Next up, planning for our June trip to Maui.

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