The Brutal Realities of Buying a Bicycle

As a kid I wanted my own bike, and so my parents took me to Toys”R”Us. We found the bike aisle, and I scoped out the selection looking for the coolest ride out of the bunch. Obviously I settled on the blindingly bright neon green Huffy that reminded me of alien blood (so cool). I yanked it off the rack, gave it a test run through the store, and minutes later it was purchased and mine. Take note: this is how buying a bicycle should be.

Now 15 years later and I am on the hunt for a bicycle and it is a nightmare.

You’ve got frame sizing, components, wheels, gears, brand types, and a million other details that are seemingly vitally important to making sure you purchase the best bike ever. To top it off they use phrases like “frame geometry” so that potential customers will develop chronic nose bleeds. I haven’t done math in years and they expect me to do geometry to figure out if my feet will touch the pedals?! Unbelievable.

Now here’s the thing…I could make all this terror go away in the blink of an eye by walking into my local bicycle shop. I could tell them what type of bike I am looking for, what my price range is, and they could make a recommendation. They could measure my legs and do the correct math to size me for the bike, and all would be well.

All would be well except for one thing.

I would pay a mountain of cash for a bicycle that could be bought cheaper online. I would have the assurance that the bike would fit me well and would be a good bike, BUT every time I went for a ride I would be thinking about how I could have bought if for 300 dollars less. For me, that is reason enough to keep searching online in this self induced bicycle buying tragedy.

So here I am searching for that top-of-the-line dream bicycle that will cost next to nothing. Occasionally I find a bike that fits close to the description, but I start worrying that I messed up the sizing formula and I’ll buy a bike ten sizes too small.

I’ll buy a bike eventually.

Birds.

Hundreds of birds swarmed through the sky swirling about in a strange fidgety pattern. It was abnormal and quite the sight as they circled about. It looked as if thousands of strings were dragging the winged creatures haphazardly in fast forward speed. I coasted down the highway keeping one eye on the car in front of me and the other on the wild birds. Why were they acting this way?

I wasn’t the only one interested in these birds. On the side of the road was a woman holding a notepad, head tilted upward to observe the strange sight. There she stood as cars sped by and birds entertained. I had a knee jerk reaction to pull over. It would be nice to watch these birds longer, and I could ask the lady if she knew about them. But I held my foot to the gas and pushed forward.

I drove the rest of the way home and talked with my family. We had a nice dinner of pasta and brownies. Afterwards I went to bed reading through a book that got boring after the first 100 pages.

I regret not stopping to look at those birds. Why do I rush past good things?

Two Selfless Gooses

Marriage is a mystery. Two individual people with different pasts, experiences, personalities, and lives becoming one. How does that work again? We point to the mystery by mixing sands or lighting a fresh candle with two individual candles, but they are only symbols. Marriage is deeper and more profound than a vase of sand or a new candle. It’s a shifting entity created by two people that grows and transforms and moves. Unlike a vase of sand that sits on a shelf, it requires work and conversations and diligent upkeep to keep alive.

My goose loving friend Tom married his dream goose Meg this past weekend. They proclaimed promises of love and commitment surrounded by their friends and family, and with a pair of rings and a long kiss their journey of marriage began. I am so happy for them.

It doesn’t surprise me that we live in a generation that struggles to commit to marriage. When I think of marriage I get the same hollow feeling in my stomach that I did when Jesus’ words of surrender first rang true for me. I was laying on the bottom bunk in a hostel reading the bible, and the words “for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” were grasped in a whole new way. Goosebumps raised on my arms, and I felt the intensity of these words. They are not light words. Following Jesus meant that I was going to give all of me to Jesus. Marriage is based on this same principle of selflessness. That’s why it isn’t a coincidence that the married say that marriage has made them more like Jesus.

Vines & Writing

Two things: When I get an office job I will buy a friendly vine plant to adorn my office with. It could sit on a high shelf and dangle down like it just doesn’t care. When strangers come to my office to talk about business we could start with small talk revolving around the Hydrangea petiolaris (that’s the scientific name, people are interested about that kind of stuff). We’d converse about the frequency that it needs to be watered and how old it is, and I would always make a joke about a snake hiding in it.

This is something I have decided.

Secondly, it has been two whole days since I read this by the artist/writer/painter/dog lover/photographer Lily Stockman and it is still in my head. Hands down this is the BEST writing I have read all month (maybe two months. maybe). Please read it, and affirm my opinion. Beautiful heartfelt writing that has oddly enough given me a new perspective on the day. I can’t express why or how or even what it was that she said that caused it to happen, there was just a feeling to that piece that has changed me and for that I am grateful.

well today is Wednesday and i have yet to drink coffee. find someone you love and tell them they’re the best.

it’s the THRILL OF THE FIGHT

Some years ago my friend Ben got hooked on the Rocky series. He invited some friends over and we all watched Rocky yell for Adrian in the first flick of the series. Afterwards, we were all jazzed up on boxing and wanted to box. It was like watching a two hour movie on cake, and getting a real craving for some funfetti birthday cake. Instead of going out back and punching the hell out of the red punching bag that hung in the tree, we ended up in my car, and someone (all of us) began barking out Eye of the Tiger. In a moment of youthful stupidity I instinctively decided to throw a few jabs into the front windshield, and in a moment of great sadness and regret, the windshield cracked. I felt like an idiot, my friends laughed, and we all still wanted to be like Rocky minus the accent.

Hey June.

This is June. She’s a rascally girl who’ll never turn into a proper lady. She’s got too much wildness in her heart to be prim and proper, and we’re ok with that. The world wants to tame everyone and everything, but we’re cool with letting June be June. Her favorite activities include nipping at Killer’s ears, pulling tomatoes off the vine, and yapping at cameras. We like her.

PATAGONIA.

Life is much stranger than fiction.

Sometimes I pride myself thinking that life & Jesus & I have an understanding. I know where life is going to take me. Look and see at what direction I am going! But the last two weeks have shown me that I have only the faintest idea of the future. Life is much too complicated to know what is coming, and God is too creative to let you plan everything.

so in the midst of the last two confusing weeks, my friend (in perfect timing), told me to buy a ticket to Patagonia.

and so i did.

So expect amazing stories & photos & greatness all related to Patagonia in the near (but not near enough) future.

God willing.

Stephen Baldwin on How He Became Second

Stephen Baldwin’s story on how God got his attention is great. It made me laugh, because it all started with a housekeeper who just loved to sing about Jesus. God chose to use a woman who scrubs toilets and dusts cabinets to bring the good news to this Hollywood star. That could be an award winning film right? What a twist!

FROM DOWNTOWN.

Part of my new morning routine is to shoot hoops with my brother. I pull on my sandals, he laces up his broken down nikes, and we spend twenty minutes pretending we’re in the NBA. We’re the worst shots in the world, but every six thousand shots we’ll put one in the hoop. We mainly shoot from 3-pointer territory, because that’s what the pros do, and the rejoicing is much more joyous when you sink a wild shot from the neighbor’s house.

He Gets You.

Most mornings rejection and loneliness bind together in a double-team effort to ruin my day. The enemy knows my soft spots, and he uses these weapons to drag me down. He tells me to stay in bed and give up on today. He whispers lies that entangle me with insecurity. You are not loved. You are a failure.

Sadly, some days he succeeds and I go throughout my day a real royal mess.

But thanks be to God, most days I shake off the lies and live as a son of the royal king.

For years (and really to this day), I thought that I could defeat rejection and loneliness by filling my life with people and activities. The more I did, the more I surrounded myself with people, the easier it would be for me to point to my day and think “How could I be lonely with all these people?” and then I could point at all the stuff I did and say that today was a success.

But this doesn’t work.

Even with all the people and all the busyness of life, when I got to the end of the day, I still felt very alone. Years ago, I tried to explain to a friend what it was like to be me. I wanted him to understand that I am me. That I was a being that was aware of my existence, and that because of this I felt that I had a purpose. He didn’t get it. I tried explaining it to other people to, but it just confuses people. If only I had a bigger vocabulary people might understand me, and perhaps, I wouldn’t feel so alone.

But last night, as I looked at this photo of a man by himself in the big city, I knew that I was not alone. The phrase that kept coming up was “the Lord is near.” And I don’t know about you, but to me, this is good freaking news.

I wonder often if anyone on this planet can fully know another person. My parents have known me the longest, and yet they don’t fully know me. My brothers and friends have spent so much time with me, and yet even through all the open conversations and time spent together, I would say that they don’t have a full picture of who I am. Some day I will have a wife, and even if i’m as vulnerable and honest as can be, I still don’t think she will know me 100%. People will never fully understand us, because I don’t think we can fully know ourselves.

But the amazing thing is that God is near, and He knows us fully. He sees our hidden faults that run deep inside us. He understands our motives and emotions more than we do. He knows our actions and their intent. We don’t need a large vocabulary to help him see who we really are. He. gets. us.

And so when I trust that the Lord is near, the loneliness and feelings of rejection dissipate. Now instead of pointing to all the people in my life or listing the things I have done, I point to Jesus. I am not alone, because the Christ is with me. He was rejected so that I could be accepted.

He loves you. He knows you.

We are not alone.

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