higher highs

September 29, 2010

Adventure seekers are all around us. And they are not easy to classify.

Some would say these people are thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies who will do anything to reach a new height of nirvana.

Those, however, who share a love of adventure, but pull it back before the adrenaline obsession begins, recognize kindred spirits in these searching souls.

I personally have always held a more modest interest in interests, if you will. For me, there was always so many hobbies to attend to, but so little time.

My years in gymnastics pretty much lived out that dream. Looking back, I didn’t quite live out my dance and horse riding days. Working with animals in a vet clinic remain unrequited dreams–more on that later. Banging on the drums became an early-20s fixation, with visions of beating out solos in front of adoring audiences haunting my dreams, only after a few months to be met with the many hazards of owning a drum set–and trying to move it more than once. The muscles of rock climbers and the obvious skill of scaling a mountain drew me to buy my first–and only–pair of rock climbing shoes (not cheap, by the way); however, my lack of rock climbing buddies has kept me out of the shoes for a while, but I’m workin’ on it. Snowboarding’s surface similarities to surfing lured me in and led to a trip with well-groomed boarders, and I semi-swiftly made it down the mountain, even if I could never make it off a ski lift.

Which brings me to surfing, an experience I’ve yet to have that remains like a pesky mosquito that, swat as I might, I can never be rid of.

So in my everlasting quest to one day catch a wave, I did some research on the pluses and (in order to appear unbiased) minuses of the sport. And my findings were slightly unsettling.

First, for the good news:
Cardiovascular improvement from all of the energy needed to catch that killer wave.
Strength and muscle building from the paddling and the standing and balancing.
Increased flexibility.
Improved mood and overall mental health from the exhilaration and peace that comes from the ocean.

Now, the bad news:
Living things in the sea—This includes sharks, sting rays, jelly fish: painful and dangerous. The general rule is they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Mmmmm–so said the one-handed surfer.
Earth—Rocks and coral, most specifically. Of course, wipeouts happen, so scouting out your surfing turf beforehand will help to pinpoint the danger areas, as well as wearing protective gear.
Drowning—The best thing to do is to cover your face and relax; no panicking or struggling, which will only hinder you from rising to the surface.
And the most eye opening of all is a condition that has hardly caught wind due to the small number of people affected: Surfer’s Myelopathy—This rare injury affected a high school student that I know and has been reported among beginner surfers. It can cause short- and long-term paralysis due to loss of blood flow to the spinal cord, believed to be caused by hyperextension of the back while lying on the surf board for long periods of time.

New surfers are encouraged, if they feel any leg weakness, discomfort or tightening in their back, or hear popping sounds, to seek medical help quickly. Quick detection is believed to be a factor in recovery. More information can be found at http://www.smawareness.org/.

Surfers swear that there’s no rush like the rush of catching that mega wave. And I don’t doubt it.

But I like knowing that I’m going to make it out alive after a knitting session. And with all of the unconquered hobbies still on my horizon, I’m thinking the surfboard may be lower on my list than I expected.

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In my continual search for mind-opening experiences to expand my knowledge (solely for writing purposes, of course!), I have turned my attention to horses.

Like most children, I stayed busy with plenty of after-school lessons–jazz and ballet, piano, horseback riding, singing, gymnastics. And also like most youngsters, I didn’t yet understand or appreciate the sacrifices my parents made to allow me those opportunities nor did I realize the ways in which these activities would help to grow my mind and equip me for future challenges.

So, with riding as one of my early exposures, when I recently took a friend up on her offer to help at her boarding stables, I felt like I was somewhat up to the challenge.

I mean, I wasn’t one of those “green” beginners who’d never stepped foot in a barn or seen a saddle before. Now, granted, it has been almost ten years since I’ve sat on a horse and even longer since I’ve been instructed as to proper riding techniques; however, I still felt confident in entering a barn, petting a horse and stepping out into the ring with him.

My outing proved me slightly correct. Fortunately, I didn’t feel the anxiety that many new riders might feel. I didn’t fear the horse’s intimidating strength. I never worried that he was going to suddenly turn on me. Nevertheless, I did maintain my distance from his hind legs, for obvious reasons–probably more than was necessary.

Still, I learned that my knowledge, of course, is abundantly lacking.

In one area is my view of horses as intelligent, emotive beings.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love dogs. Can’t get enough of them–well, most of them.

But, as I was petting my horse’s nose the other day, I couldn’t help feel like I would never feel the affection for them that I feel for dogs. I’m talking that instant love, that immediate concern for their well being and that strong desire to be near them that I always feel for canines.

Horses don’t conjure up that feeling in me.

Yet.

I must admit that I am determined to change that.

First of all, they’re animals. Animals are all beautiful and intelligent. Horses are no different, of course. They are sensitive, tender giants who only aim to please their master.

But this is not all coming from my mouth. This is coming from lifetime horse owners, trainers and riders who have spent their lives around these creatures.

After all, they are the ones who would truly know.

To read articles about how they create deep communicative attachments with their horses; how they read their body language; how the horses respond in an effort to be closer to their human.

It’s beautiful. And I want that.

So it is my quest, my determination to achieve it.

And it will happen. I’m sure of it. 🙂

Major Television Vomit

September 14, 2010

I had another subject all lined up for my blog today, but, in tribute to the VMA aftermath, I will lay that subject aside for now, and focus on what’s on the minds of most young America tonight.

I never listen to the radio; I prefer to spend time with musicians with actual, ahem, talent –Elton John, Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, to name a few.

Of course, all good music has not been lost. There are many present bands who have not yet been conquered with million-dollar deals to exploit their sexuality and flaunt their drug excesses all in the name of music. They endeavor to follow in the gifted footsteps of artists of the past rather than rely on showy outfits and lasers to distract from their abismal melodies and horrific lyrical choices.

Now, you’re probably thinking, hold on a minute; all of these “talented musicians” exploited their sexuality and drug excesses. In fact, many lived very short lives because of it. And yes, you are right. However, I would argue that most of them did not become famous for these qualities. It was their musical talent that skyrocketed them first. Now, take a look at today, and compare.

These things said: it’s extremely obvious that I’m out of touch with mainstream pop of today. I know it, and I’m unspeakably grateful. But I didn’t realize just how much that was true . . . until the VMA’s, of course.

I only recognized about a third of the “artists”–if you can call them that.

I can safely assert that there was not one moment from the show that would persuade me to spend any of my time or money on any of them.

I ask, what did these people do to become famous?

Jersey Shore? Are you kidding me?

These kids are rich and adored thanks to their glorification of their white trashiness. They get drunk, fight, cuss, sleep around, don’t work, can’t string two intelligent sentences together, and look like they just walked out of a greasers gang from the ’60s. I mean, am I really seeing this?

Sigh. Yep.

And they’re not the only disgusting excuses for human beings. They may just be the most visible.

I’m not gonna touch Lady Gaga because words can’t even come close to what I feel for her. And besides that, her fans are almost as crazy as she is. I’m afraid one of them would knife me in the night.

I just have one word for her: blink. It’s okay. We all do it.

And Kesha? Her outfit was so laughable, I couldn’t look at her straight on. The garbage bag dress was really not that bad; it was more the hair and the feathers. I mean, just calm. it. down.

And of course, there’s more where that came from.

Did you catch Will.i.am and Nikki Minaj’s performance? I wonder how I can get her hair? So pink and spacelike. Reminded me of a jelly bean. That would have made a nice finale, have someone fly down and eat her hair, maybe even her whole head. Very Gaga-esque. I’m surprised MTV didn’t think of that. They were probably too busy trying to coerce Kanye and Taylor to duke it out in jello on stage.

For me, though, what made this night the most difficult to bear is what I noticed in the performers underneath the costumes. Nothing. Total emptiness. Blank expressions. No ability to speak their mind–only the mind of the collective public, who, after all, determine whether they succeed or fail.

They are solely concerned with what will be big tomorrow, where they rank, and how they can be more famous than the person next to them–and if that means showing their breasts and talking about their favorite sexual position, it’s all in a day’s work.

hope and defiance

September 8, 2010

Admittedly or not, consciously or unconsciously, most humans like change.

For example, the seasons.

As much as we may enjoy our current season–cough, fall (who doesn’t love fall?)–by the time it comes to its end, we are eagerly peering ahead to the upcoming climate rotation.

Because humans are innate adapters.

Some would give credit to our believed evolutionary roots; I, however, recognize the higher power who deserves the honor.

How come we are so begrudging to believe that an intelligent being is responsible for our existence and for everything around us? All of creation points to that conclusion, after all.

Humans have always been adaptable–through difficult, depressing times such as the Dark Ages, Spanish Inquisition, Trail of Tears, the pioneer days of covered wagons, all-out government tyrannies.

Through it all, the human spirit survives; we were created with the will to defy odds, even if they’re stacked against us–not just to continue working through a situation like an animal with no thought as to the source of its oppression nor of its end but as reasoning, hopeful creatures that can look to the future and focus on their inevitable relief.

It’s a beautiful quality: hope. And I don’t doubt that even in the dark days of the future that are sure to come around again some day, humans will defy all reason and continue to hope.

why must we eat so?

September 4, 2010

When I have conversations with the general public about calories and carbs I literally feel like I am suffocating in a room filled with seafoam–that I am physically grasping at my throat and making choking sounds, but no one even looks up.

I had another one of these debilitating discussions this past week. A woman at my local coffee shop used to regularly (by that, I mean every day) purchase a large sugar-free, nonfat latte (espresso, sugar and milk); lately, though, she’s made the switch to americanos (espresso and water) with a sugar-free syrup added for taste and no milk.

We started conversing about her reasons for the switch; she replied that she’s on a non-dairy, calorie-counting diet and that, although she didn’t quite enjoy her sugar-free americanos, it fit the requirements.

Then, I made the suggestion that she use raw sugar in place of her splenda-filled sugar substitute, as a fresh, new flavor without the icky chemical aftertaste.

She responded by looking me over with a steely–and slightly confused–gaze, as if I had absolutely no place in this conversation because I so obviously lacked any understanding of the no-calorie-goes-unpunished mindset.

And that is a fact I am quite certain I will always hang my hat on. Excuse me for thinking about your body’s well-being as opposed to the measly 70 calories you will add to your daily intake by consumiing something that actually comes from the earth instead of a science lab.

And then, that got me thinking about the fad diets and various shortcuts we all succumb to in order to reach for a dream that our society proliferates.

Then, we’re surprised when we don’t succeed, after a week of slight, and very often misguided, efforts of skipping meals, eating on the go and saving calories for drinks at happy hour.

For instance, spend ten minutes outside of QuikTrip, McDonald’s or any fast food establishment and take stock of the body types coming and going.

Just think, that is what you could look like in five years. What a prospect!

I’m willing to bet that the liver and kidneys of anyone following a fast food diet shares a very similar look to that of the obese woman waddling out of QT, clutching her bear claw and a 64-ounce Diet Pepsi.

Side comment: 64 ounces of anything just isn’t good.

the hunted

September 1, 2010

I am being hunted.

By a mosquito.

And he’s hot on my trail.

I have the bites to prove it.

There’s nothing quite like a mosquito in a room to send people into an absolute tizzy–something about itchy bumps that make us weak humans panic.

Maybe a mosquito bite draws up too many repressed chicken pox memories; possibly a mosquito is a buzzing reminder of how incapable we are of fighting back–we can’t give a rebuttal bite, after all; or could it be the mosquito’s lack of trackability?

We can’t fight something we can’t see. So we end up futilely boxing with the empty air, in hopes our hand will miraculously collide with the pest, causing it to fall to the ground, dead.

No guilt there.

That is one insect, arguably, no human feels any remorse over murdering.

One down. There will always be more where he came from.