…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
My life has pretty much always included cycling. I think I was pedalling before I was able to walk, and apparently I was before I was even born! Perhaps it’s genetics, perhaps it’s aspirational – my dad being the other cyclist in my life, he died when I was very young, but knowing that riding a bike was a part of his life meant I was to ride a bike too (just like playing guitar).
Many people see me riding my bike, I go out ‘just for the hell of it’ and I also cycle to and for work. Because I don’t drive so often, quite a few people assume I don’t have a car, which is incorrect. People make comments about how fit I must be, or just drop their jaw when I casually answer their question about how far I’ve come (which usually isn’t that far in my books), or because of my ‘lack of fear’ of traffic or weather.
When people pass me in their car, especially if there is only the driver, I wonder if they think “I could be doing that”. When I’m driving and I see a cyclist I think I usually give them an analytical glance, not a judgemental one, but one of admiration if they’re going at a fair pace, or a happy thought of “I do that too”. I remember a good few years ago I was driving through Snowdonia in North Wales and I saw a cyclist tourer, towing a trailer along the mountain road. That image stayed with me and it gave me thoughts of admiration and I suppose one of “I want to do that”. A couple of years ago, without consciously thinking about that image, I did do that, not with a trailer, but panniers that were probably loaded with the same gear.
I always wonder, and I think hope, that I give other people some of that aspiration. While I like to think how I might be similar to my dad, I hope it’s not all down to genetics, I hope it’s just a state of mind that anyone can get into. I am sure it’s accurate to say that children are most easily inspired compared to us adults – the neural pathways that make up their imagination not yet lacking the inflexibility of their later years to come. I like that look on their face as I pedal past – I see them as my young self looking out at the world and deciding what I want to grow up being like.
Have I always been too easily aspired or inspired, I wonder.
having the effect of inspiring someone.
I feel like there have been many people in my life that have influenced me, either briefly, or for a greater period of my life (potentially indefinitely). These people are probably less often real people, and instead fictitious, such as characters in films. My inspiration isn’t only a mental flash that I sit and enjoy until it fades away, but it has often been something I act upon – I have made changes in my life to make me more like them, or make my environment more like there’s. This behaviour of course dates back to my childhood, and when it was more pronounced, and it perhaps reflects some sort of freedom I was permitted by my parents way back then, but to this day I still let things influence me and guide my life, even if I’m not quite so carefree.
When we see something in someone else that we want too, are we not perhaps just seeing something that already exists in ourselves, I wonder? A potential, at least. Seeing that person doing it, and feeling that aspiring energy, just guides us onto our right path – like seeing a tasty cake and realising “I just fancy that!” (perhaps you fancied something like a cake before you saw the cake, you just didn’t realise it was the cake you wanted until you saw it). And it is a right path if it produces something positive.
I have come across some people that have felt a strong inspirational draw from one particular person (sometimes fictitious), or a particular theme, and then their own life becomes that. I will admit that I once dressed, during my childhood, for a day, as closely as I could to that of Marty McFly in Back to the Future, I also tried to perfect the art of skateboarding, I took up guitar playing, I had a radio alarm clock, I tried sleeping in my clothes, and I also thought the high school I was choosing to go to was a little bit like Hill Valley High. This is an extreme that I now find uncomfortable (although funny to recall), especially if after all these years I was still living in my imagined world of Back to the Future IV which probably wouldn’t have developed beyond the realms of 1985/2015 as they were portrayed in the films (I could never actually decide if I wanted to be the cool Marty, or the time-machine-inventing Doc, but Marty had the better/viable look). Now I don’t think there is any one person or theme in my life that anyone could pinpoint as blatantly obvious, but I still find that energy and vibe from some characters and try and let it manifest inside me. I still play guitar and ponder the possibilities of time travel, even if I gave up skateboarding a good while ago.
Perhaps I should now invest in a white lab coat.
As I write this I’m also also thinking of the world of ‘cosplay’ where people dress up as a fictitious character – the best cosplayers are probably the ones that best embody that character, while at the same time making a great achievement with the accuracy of the costume and overall look. But I’m sure there are some cosplayers that struggle, beyond that first key character they became, to dress up like someone else quite so well – they’ll always be that first character. This could be a shame if they then fail to live their ‘own life’. Indeed some actors are only ever known for one key role – it can become a little bit cringe-worthy after a while. No, we must avoid that.
In returning to the topic of cycling, I suppose my point is that I believe there are lots of motorists that could be (when there is no significant physical limitation) on a bike instead of in their car, I think a lot of non-cyclists fail to realise that we’re all human and it’s more a mental state that lures someone into their car rather than onto a bike (getting into my car used to be routine for me too, but riding my bike now is my routine instead). I also think, sadly, some people have grown out of being guided by things that might have once inspired them, or they were never encouraged as children to follow the inspirations that are all around us. I hope I continue to be inspired, and if I inspire people and be a positive role model along the way, then that’s good too.