Monday, July 06, 2015

A Quick Realization Of The Tao Today

As with all studies of spiritual movements, we come upon sparks of insight that capture us wholeheartedly... This excerpt from 365 Tao by Deng, Ming-Dao has truly taken me...

Life is,

A crucial part of following Tao is seeking knowledge. All the efforts of self-cultivation are meant to make us a fit vehicle for that search. Sometimes what we learn is not pleasant. With learning, we glimpse life as it really is, and that is difficult to bear. That is why spiritual progress is slow: not because no one will tell us secrets, but because we ourselves must overcome sentiment and fear before we can grasp it. There is an underbelly of terror to all life. It is suffering, it is hurt. Deep within all of us are intense fears that have left few of us whole. Life's terrors haunt us, attack us, leave ugly cuts. To buffer ourselves, we dwell on beauty, we collect things, we fall in love, we desperately try to make something lasting in our lives. We take beauty as the only worthwhile thing in this existence, but it cannot veil cursing violence, randomness, and injustice. 

Only knowledge removes this fear. If we were shown the whole truth, we could not stand it. Both lovely and horrible details make us human, and when knowledge threatens to show us our follies, we may realize that we are not yet ready to leave them behind. Then the veil closes again, and we sit meditating before it, trying to prepare ourselves for the moment when we dare to part the curtain completely. 

I am left breathless contemplating this...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Coldwater Mountain Alabama Mountain Biking

Looks like some good shredding...

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Ted Talks 18-Minute Rule - Ever Heard Of It?

When I mountain bike or hike to a climbing area, I don't really listen to music that often. The buzzing in my ear is usually a podcast. Some of my favorite broadcasts include those from TEDTalks. At this point, TED, which stands for Technology Entertainment Design, has garnered a cult-like status in the Thompson household. I'm an addict. The content is rich in worldly and outer-worldly study. From the emotional to the very scientific, TED covers the gamut. Recently, while downhilling on one of my favorite trails, I listened to a 60-minutes broadcast about TED. The program covered the origins of TED Talks and how they've become so fascinating. But the one part that struck me was their 18-minute rule, ever heard of it? 

Each TED Talk has one critical requirement: no talk/preso can go on for more than 18 minutes. The owner of TED, Chris Anderson, didn't just pull that number out of his head. Naturally, there's science behind it. Anderson puts it best in discussion about the 18-minute rule: 
It (18 minutes) is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people's attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It's the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get the to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline. 
I found a great article on LinkedIn that sited some work by Dr. Paul King. According to researchers at Texas Christian University, the act of listening can be as equally draining as thinking hard about a subject. Dr. King calls it "cognitive backlog." Like weights, he says, the more information we are asked to take in, the heavier and heavier it gets. Eventually, we drop it all, failing to remember anything we've been told.

Imagine if we all listened so intently! But that's the point about TEDTalks! They focus entertaining with education. Each talk has a clear objective: to get you thinking. Whether it is speaker or listener, we all could learn a thing or two about the art of engaging our colleagues and the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bring It On Troubles!

I was never really bullied as a kid. But, like all kids, I did go through an ugly stage. It is a special time in one's prepubescent life when you're on the cusp of radical change, but where your nose, ears and forehead seem to have leaped forward before the rest of your body. You just look weird for a while. This is usually around grades 4th - 6th. Thankfully, your peers notice the changes, and call them out with gusto. So it was with 5th grade, for me. One day I came home a little depressed. I hadn't been a target before, but now, I was. Damn! After a particular bout of complaining to my Mom, she gave me some incredible advice: name your troubles, and go after them. Her point: you can't just stand there upset, you need to face your fears.

Her advice hasn't left me (smart Mom). I've found that the more one almost personifies fears, the more light you put on them. In the book, The Power of Now, by Echart Tolle, he dives deep in to the influence the "light" has on a particular part of one's problems. From that exposure, comes wisdom. We all have troubles, and how we grow from them is what makes us human. Ultimately, it isn't a collection of great times in our lives, but a series of character-building exercises, and to hell with those :)

John Maxwell quoted it best: a man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

New Mountain Bike World Speed Record - Video

Well... I guess that is something one could do on a Saturday!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Reflection

My Grandfather used to say to me, "Walker, saving money is like paying yourself." I've always struggled understanding what he meant. Isn't buying a rad mountain bike paying yourself? But when I take a step back, I simply transferred money to someone else, I wasn't necessarily paying myself. I guess one needs to consider the perspective of his generation, and mine. He's 97.  I use his commentary on a more deeper level: saving money is a lot like reflecting on your life. Whether you've accumulated assets or memories, we all must find place in our hearts and minds to take stock. 

Our lives are a going concern. The seriousness of how one looks back, shapes how positively we grow, or don't. There is no Facebooking when we reflect. No distractions. We are in a quiet place. Our heart is open to the power of the universe to help shape our decision path. We accept that. 

Prior to a year ago, my journal lacked purpose, and was simply a collection of credits from some period of time. I was simply keeping record of the emotional transactions of my life. Now, each morning, I journal how I could have improved from the day before. I close my eyes and take inventory of my day. Partly, it allows me to let go. However, my true purpose is to see where my actions, thoughts or deeds could use some investment. Will I need to be more compassionate to myself or others? Should I look for help? Where was the learning lesson? Perhaps I should have chosen (or will choose) a different path? Thus, the personal transaction is deeper reflection. And I am centered on: what one does with the collective power of all those memories, as these make up the sum of our growth, and who we are.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Black Rock Oregon MTB - One Sick Place To Ride

When I first started mountain biking I was more of an cross country rider (and still do a ton of that). In my spandex, while riding a 3" bike, I would see all these jumps, berms and wooden tricked out features. I remember thinking how "crazy" these guys were. In fact, I would almost scoff at them. "Who needs that kind of thing..." I would say. Funny how things come full circle... The spandex is gone (safely hidden underneath baggies) and I'm the one either building tricked out terrain or searching for it.

However my perspective changed again when I went to Black Rock Oregon. The stunts go to the next level at Black Rock (and so too with the trail building innovation). In the deeply wooded area, the dirt is tacked out and the building materials are endless. As you wind up the old logging road, you see riders jumping all around you. There are 20' tall wooden bridges with road gaps at the end of them. The trail builders are a dedicated group of serious riders that put some serious love in to each and every berm.

As for me, I only spent a short time there. I tried really hard to jump/gap/shred above my level. Alas, without more time, I could only do so much. But we can all dream of the big lines can't we?