… to my followers, stalkers, fellow bloggers, and random dropper-in-ers…
How was your year!?
Oh, umm… I was going to say how I ended up cycling more miles than I planned… then I just opened up my list of “New Year Resolutions – 2016” and there it is at the top of the list: “Cycle 6,000 miles”… I had it in my head that I was intending to cycle less than I did in 2015 (5,000 miles) since I was worn out at the end of December after getting the last of my miles in, or perhaps it was 2014 that I was thinking of. But then I had my trip around Scotland (which I/I’ll keep bringing up because it’s my 2016+ highlight) which bumped my monthly average up and then by November I had already done 5,000+ miles and when I figured out how many more miles I needed to do to get to 6k I figured it was do-able. I wasn’t 100% certain though.
Anyway, I like setting myself goals and targets; not everyone seems to do this, but maybe that’s their subconscious aim in life, to not aim for anything in particular. Not me, I like my New Year Resolutions for this reason. Below is some “waffle” on some of the various aspects of my 2016 and what will or will not feature in my 2017:
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Music, Languages, and Home
At the start of December I had “just” 20.7 miles a day to do, but I didn’t get my finger out initially and then I had a cold and ensuing chest infection for a couple of weeks (as if cycling each day wasn’t tiring enough). By this point I needed to do 30 miles a day to make my target, and I still wasn’t sure I was going to make it. One thing that spurred me on though was meeting one of two older gentlemen raising money for various cancer stuff by cycling from here (North Wales) to Rome (“Holyhead to the Holy City”) in February/March – this particular guy was fairly new to cycling, he had a new knee, and while was raising money for his thing at various shopping centres, he was sat on an exercise bike, and needed to get “30 training miles in each day”… I thought to myself “funny enough, that’s how many miles I have to cycle each day to reach my target.” I talked to him about my trip round Scotland and wished him well for his trip. From then on I kept up with my average of 30 miles a day, some days doing more to make up for days when I couldn’t do that…
Such as on my trip back from the market on Christmas Eve with bicycle panniers full of carrots and sprouts, battling a 50mph head wind! Getting to the market was fun, being blown along at 40mph, but then looking down as a plodded back to see the display read 5.5mph. Two points of interest regarding my trip round Scotland; 1) I don’t feel any fitter (although I have it on good authority that I am fit), and/but 2) I very much recognise the advantage of having something to head for, a goal in life or a destination on a map; when I have these things I travel so much further; going out each day with only the intention to cycle 30 miles is as much of a mental challenge as doing 100+ miles in one day when it’s more about the journey and that’s all there is to think about. And there are now a few times in my life when I’ve achieved the latter, and none of those times I planned.
And the reason I didn’t drive to the market on Christmas Eve when it was blowing a gale was because 2016 was the year I decided I no longer needed a car, because I was cycling so much, and so I sold my car.
I actually stopped my detailed record-keeping of my cycling efforts. For 10+ years I had been keeping a record of each day’s cycling; distance, time, average speed, top speed and calories (I also used to write a brief description of the route so I could compare efforts), but it began to feel like a pointless exercise, so I stopped resetting my cycle-computer after each day and left it to run for the month. One problem with this is that it turns out that my cycle-computer can’t calculate my average speed once I’ve covered more than 300 miles or so, or whatever time that takes, and it reports an error on that screen. Oh well.
Prior to my Scotland trip I also cycled to the various high points on Anglesey where I live.
Another day I couldn’t cycle 30 miles, or any, was the day of my Granddad’s funeral (which we missed) which was a full day of driving. For me, my granddad dying wasn’t a low point as such, it’s how I’ve come to terms with people dying; seeing him in hospital was upsetting, but he was on his last legs – mentally all there but his body increasingly letting him down and he’d had enough of it; each winter putting him on the edge. Visiting him and his funeral were really the only two occasions I could have really done with a car; not enough to warrant keeping one. The final trip was a trying one between family members and I’m apprehensive how things will pan out in 2017.
I also managed to lose two cats this year, one was old, but the other died while I was on my trip round Scotland, and was a surprise departure (it’s not the first time I’ve returned from a long trip to learn a loving cat has left us).
I’ve also said goodbye to some relationships and friendships this year. I before about my Internet Addiction and Second Life and this is where I’ve had to leave people be; getting emotionally close to people and them leaving or me leaving can feel like grieving at the worst of it. For some of us we cut deep and I think this coupled with a sense of being addicted or obsessed with a place or people does more than make someone feel down for a short time but causes hurt to the soul (more on this in a moment). I see a lot of people wasting their lives away in Second Life and online in general, and I can’t observe that in others and not see it in myself; over on Facebook it happens a lot for example, and I left that a while back. Not everyone feels this stuff it seems, some don’t have this deep level of attachment or can click it on or off, or distract themselves from any feelings; I quite like feelings and the sense of nagging I hear is there for a reason. I’m still logging into the virtual world each week and how much time I spend there waxes and wanes, and I feel guilty about not being there so much for the nice friends I have, but I tried all sorts to actively combat my sense of addiction, like changing my password to something long and random and writing it on a piece of paper that I folded up and put away and told myself that I couldn’t open it for a week… only to, in a split second, find myself going against my decision, as if my hands were on puppet strings. I also ended up memorising the randomly generated password because I’d typed it in so many times! In the end I think time is the healer whilst persisting with my efforts throughout to not log in so much – I knew that whenever I would log in far too many hours would pass and I considered this to be a waste of my time. Not everyone experiences this, maybe some do but when something persists for long enough it becomes the norm and they just accept it, this I think is when an addiction runs away with us.
Time on this planet is what feels precious to me, time for friends is important, time to relax with a cup of coffee is nice, but I get a sense of wasting time if I’m not careful, kind of why I avoid TV. Spending hours a week on my bike, strangely, doesn’t feel so much like a waste of time; it gives me time for fresh air and time for my thoughts, although too much time there can mean I avoid other responsibilities.
Seeing others “wasting” their time troubles me, but I think it’s best to focus on myself and try and lead by example.
A quirky twist to my 2016 was the arrival of Jehovah’s Witnesses on my doorstep; Actually their first appearance was in 2015 but it was 2016 that I got the opportunity to invite them in and they visited a number of times, although they haven’t for a while now but they still pop by while I’m out and drop leaflets off. One curious thing I learned about them (from what I read online) and from the Bible that they gave me was that they don’t believe in us having a soul; any mention of the ‘soul’ is marginalised in their Bible. I’m the polar opposite; I have a strong sense of having a soul and I see a soul (or sometimes a lack of) in others. And this is what I think this life is all about; I think our souls are on a journey here, a journey of learning (which requires some experiences and interactions with others) but above all it’s important for us to spend our time here wisely and without causing hurt/harm/damage to our soul (or the soul of others); we will generally cause some problems along the way (for me I feel I do this to myself, in that I don’t blame others, but I consider the souls of other people important too), but the important thing is to not leave our soul (like the planet) in a worse condition, and ideally we should learn as much as we can along the way (this isn’t specifically on an “intellectual” level where what we learn is learned by the mind only, but absorbed by the soul).
The JWs have invited me to their church a few times but that’s not for me, if there is a “God” then “he” knows this 😉
Why I keep reading so many books (although not quite this many compared to other years, but not far off) is probably explained by this notion that the stuff is absorbed into my soul, if not at my mental forefront. Not that I read a lot compared to some people, it’s not about 24/7 studying, because living is learning, but I read one or two books a month on average, like non-fiction, and they often seem like books I don’t really understand or have the mental capacity to explain, but I feel I absorb enough, and this absorption reaches the soul and will then surely serve me well when I pass onto the next stage of my existence (if it works like that). If we absorb the wrong stuff then we do ourselves harm or cause a step backwards in our learning and development, this of course includes the food we eat, and I generally get my 5+ a day there.
I finished reading Volume 4 of Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia (as I’ve been reading one a year) and I also finished Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (just!). Interestingly they both ended on a similar note; the Encyclopedia had a list of illustrations on the second-to-last page depicting some good rules to live by, and the final chapter in the Canterbury Tales was a lengthy one about the Seven Deadly Sins; this wasn’t covered beyond a brief outline in my translated version (similar to one other section) so I had the olde English of the original to contend with; although it wasn’t as much of a challenge as the actual tales. All this which probably explains a lot about my mindset right now and my thoughts about looking after one’s soul.
Coincidentally, regarding the final two of ‘Go to bed with the lamb’ and ‘Rise with the lark’, I was attempting this in November and made a point of observing the sunrise and sunset each day.
In addition to my cycling I did a lot of jogging too; 175 miles in total, double what I’d done in the previous year. This was mostly due to my brother wanting to start running too so we ended up running together once a week. We did this on and off for six months, but in the end he decided he wanted to go to the gym instead. The route I ran on those days with my brother was 6 miles long and showed, again, just how getting into a routine makes all the difference; outside of this I would just run 2 miles on the days that I felt like it (which in December while I was concentrating on my cycling was only once); I liked that I got my brother out of the house and running for those months but as advice for anyone else (and myself) I think once a week isn’t enough, for anything you want to positively impact your life; more often but less would have been better, which is what I intend to do in 2017; return to my couple of miles, but continue to make the effort to do this more often.
Oh, and then there is yoga.
This kind of snuck into my life in 2016 and I made sure to do some after each day of cycling to help stretch out my tired legs, although it’s not really a “part of my life” beyond this 20 minutes or so. I’ll keep it up, it feels nice.
Music, Languages, and Home
There were a couple of things in my life I let slip in 2016 and they were my music playing and language learning.
I began 2016 by purchasing a keyboard and I taught myself to play a few songs I liked the sound of, but again, I didn’t keep up with regular effort and by the time I had the roofers round to replace my roof (another 2016 “event”!) I had packed my keyboard away for safekeeping. I also don’t delve into my music collection so much just to listen either. Further to this I hid my guitar away under my bed and gave up my weekly noise disturbance efforts; I lost my enthusiasm to play which I feel was linked to my emotional state as talked about above, I also observed something to do with “ego and the self” that made me self-conscious; I’d “attempted” to play the guitar since my teens and I was still hammering along to the pretty much the same stuff, never really learning to play properly; kind of like a tired old boxer, still getting into the ring to get his face smashed in, just because he thought he was cool. I started to question why I was intent on doing these things and if I felt any sense of achievement from them… I didn’t seem to think so.
My office needs some decorating before I think about getting my keyboard back out and this and other work on my house is a priority for 2017; it would be nice to have a carpet in my lounge (and some other rooms). As for my language learning I was having fun learning German and I got to inflict some of it on German people I met on my travels around Scotland; I also enjoy putting what I have learned into practice online, although being in Second Life less means this happens less. The number of words I had to review on Memrise before learning new ones grew quicker than I was allowing time for, so I just stopped, but I want to finish the course I started because I want to move onto another language this year; I’ll not allow myself to do that until I finish what I started. I’ll certainly not be fluent but I think the end of the course is a good target for me.
This pretty much wraps up my 2016 list of Resolutions and now it’s time to write my list of Intentions for 2017. Generally I want to pursue this idea of looking after my soul; this is coupled with my mindfulness of how the world operates around me; you know, the not so good stuff which I think can be influenced by focussing on the good in and around our own little worlds; living in a way that isn’t so much of a burden on our planet and people around us; travelling in a green manner, using as little electricity (and fossil fuels) as possible (which means not so much SETI@home), avoiding overconsumption and the consumption of stuff we don’t need (from material things to TV and media nonsense), and recycling stuff. In addition to not keeping daily records of my cycling efforts I have also cut down (I think) on my lists and pages of notes, preferring to live by the rule “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” This has helped me to keep my desk tidy, although my ‘Desktop’ needs a little more work!
These are things I think about a lot and I will continue to do so. I hope those around me notice this, which is why I blog about it, to shove it in your lovely faces 😀
Links to various topics mentioned: