Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Waiting for the Riders to Return, a Reflection

I attended an event called Roll-Out-The-Barrel the other night, a bike-and-bourbon fund-raiser for Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance, or CORA. I do not ride off-road, it hurts too much, but I wanted to make a contribution and I love spiked cider. It was kind of iffy as to whether we could even make it in time for the group ride, which, alas, we did not. (Work interferes with everything). No worries, though, we made our own short ride around Covington and then went back to sample the libations before everyone else.

While I was sitting there with Velo Junkie waiting for the riders to return I asked myself what I was doing there. I wondered “what has brought the Reluctant Cyclist to a place in her life that she wants to be around a bunch of gravel-eating, hill-jumping bikers”. Hmmmm….

I have a couple of degrees and 25+ years of experience in manufacturing and maintenance. And yet I write about my life through simple bike rides. As I pondered this fact I wanted to come up with a reason why. Then it got bigger than me. Why do some people identify with their work and others with their past-time or passion? I could just as easily have started blogging about enterprise asset management or industrial chemicals, but I didn’t. I chose to start a blog about my life through cycling.

I used to identify with my work. If people asked me what I did, I assumed they meant for a living, so I answered in context. If the roles were reversed and I asked the same question I expected a likewise response. How narrow minded of me. We are so much more than that. We work to live, not live to work. So, then, why? Why does one person say “I’m a mechanic, or I’m an engineer”, and another say “I’m a cyclist”? Or one responds “I work at Company A” while the other says “I advocate for bike safety”?

This is my unprofessional, unsolicited explanation.

I identified with my work when I was foolish, and believed someone actually cared. Get over yourself. No one cares what you do for a living unless you are at a business conference. They will never take part in that facet of your life unless you can offer them a job.

So, just like I did, I think folks believe that someone else may find their title, or the name of their employer impressive. Yeah! Right. When in truth, if your title or employer is impressive you are probably not at liberty to share the information. Tell me you run covert operations for an underground band of reclusive, royal, vampires, you might catch my ear. Or tell me that you were part of a team that just launched the first SpaceX rocket, yes you will grab my attention.

Gotta love a room full of Geeks.

Tell me you test the rust inhibition characteristics of amines in a salty environment for “Major Company A” and you will get a blank stare. Not that your work isn’t important, it may save many a marine vehicle, it’s just that, well, it’s a title only a mother could love.

As I have grown wiser I find it much more enthralling to recognize people for how they live, not how they exist. So now my short truism has come full circle. Why do I blog about cycling, which I spend less than ten hours a week doing and don’t particularly excel in, instead of the thing I spend 40+ hours a week doing? Put simply, because I can; because cyclists are fun, neat people to be around; because I feel less judged around a group of urban commuters than I do in a room full of business professionals, albeit, many of those cyclist are professionals as well. I believe that can be said for any group of people who all share a common interest, a passion for something. Whether you run, bike, or play video games, it’s much more interesting to share those trials and tribulations than try to explain what you do for a living. Unless you make money doing what it is that you are passionate about. At that point you are the envy of the rest of us.

Let’s be honest, not many of you care about my work or education, unless you are in the same profession. Cycling, running, or any other pursuit of endurance can reach across boundaries, can bridge unlikely comrades, and can introduce us to friends across all walks of life.

I guess the moral of the story – "Do the best you can in all aspects of your life" and "All work and no play makes for a dull life"!

Happy New Year!

#rolloutthebarrel #CORA #simplebikerides #whatdoyoudo

BTW… If you are interested in my work, that's a picture of my desk (nothing too exciting there). You can click on the Minions Caption for a link to my latest Webinar.

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