Monday, January 31, 2011

The Reference Point

Sometime during the chaos of building My Front Door, my sister Jenny slipped my wife Jenny (yes I know it is a little weird) a wad of cash and told her to spend it on something fun. This Front Door Adventure is brought to you by my loving Sister Jenny.

Adventure Bike 1.0 (AKA Url). Built like a tank yet hard to hit. Designed and built by David and Issac at Second Ascent in Ballard. Top notch work done at a fair price.

Oishii Sushi in Greenwood. Pros: Good Sushi and great service. Cons: No bike rack.

I am a Lucky Basartd to have married such a fine looking woman who will go on a bike date in the rain with me. I am thankful her parents invested in orthodontic braces.

My month of sobriety did not stop me from stocking the beer cellar. Chuck's on 85th and 8th in Greenwood has the best beer selection in Seattle. Chuck is a pretty entertaining fellow as well.

My Team: Promises of hot coffee and food just around the next bend and beer at the end of the day keep Team Snowman on the move.

In what I have coined the Beach Climb Ride, 5 Seattle and Shoreline Parks are visited over 40 miles and 1500 feet of climbing. Hamlin Park, Shoreline WA.

Rails, rain and empty playgrounds.

One of my favorite tree in Seattle. If this one could talk, a story it could surely tell.

Salmon Slide. Carkeek Park, Seattle WA.

Perfect riding conditions. 43 degrees and raining. We love our green summers here in Seattle.

The tree gives the blacktop the middle finger. As much as pavement make my life by bike easier, I still like to see the trees win the battle.

First beer in 29 days. I haven't gone that long since I was 12.

January 3oth, 2011. Rainy and 43 degrees in Seattle Washington. Today was a perfect Reference Point Day. A Reference Point Day you ask? What on earth is that? The Reference Point is closely tied to my belief that we might all benefit by embracing a little more discomfort in our lives. Yes that is what I said, embrace discomfort.
I had this conversation a couple weeks ago with Ben Krause who has been farming in the Snohomish River Valley for the past 30 years. Sitting in his hot tub drinking a beer just a few miles short riding a 1oo miles on a day that the temperature never creeped above freezing, Ben offered his opinion of my recreational pursuits, "I can see the fun in riding bikes and all Matt, but today is pretty miserable man."
I couldn't disagree, but instead posed this question. "Are you comfortable right now Ben?"
He looked a bit confused and hesitated, but sitting in a 100 degree pool of water with a cold beer, there was really only one answer, "Yeah, I am pretty comfortable."
"How do you know?", was my follow-up question. Again, a confused look; this time I didn't wait for a response.
"You know you are comfortable because you have spent quite a bit of time uncomfortable Ben." I pointed across the yard over to the old milk parlor, which was converted into a bakery/kitchen several years ago when the Krause's discovered that pumpkin patches and weddings were a better bet than cows. "I can remember when we were kids and you would be up at three in the morning on freezing cold mornings going broke milking cows. Covered in shit, cussing up a storm and every day deeper in dept. That was pretty uncomfortable eh?" Ben laughed and nodded, "Yeah, that was pretty uncomfortable alright."
"Exactly, you know you are comfortable now because you have spent quite a bit of time in your life really uncomfortable, you have a reference point for understanding comfort. " I could tell Ben was following me but still thought I was crazy.
It seems to me that we strive so much in our lives to eliminate any discomfort that we don't recognize or appreciate the simple things that bring us comfort. A hot shower, dry socks, a roof over my head, clean drinking water and a warm bed. These are a few of the simple comforts that I appreciate on daily basis.
People have a hard time understanding why I get out of bed an hour early in the morning when it is pouring down rain, get on a bike and peddle when there is a perfectly fine automobile sitting at curb side ready to deliver me to my destination. The truth is that inviting a little discomfort into my life provides the reference point for me to understand and appreciate the things that bring me comfort.
As our country becomes collectively fatter, more polluted, and increasingly mechanized I think we all might benefit a little by inviting a bit more discomfort in our lives. Maybe a short walk in the rain to bus stop, possibly getting up a little earlier to carpool with coworker, might I suggest a bike ride in the rain?
You gotta get to know the ying to understand the yang.

Livin' the Dream



  1. Alford,
    You are seriously my spiritual advisor for 2011. I bought a new bike the other day because of you :)


  2. Kowalski-
    I am an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. At your service to perform weddings, funerals, baptism and exorcisms.