05 August 2011


My poor blog has grown stale while I've struggled to learn a new job this past month.  Many, many hours have passed these last long weeks, between sunrise and sunset each day, with me doing nothing more than sitting all-the-while in a chair behind a desk. Several days I have sat so long typing and talking, that my elbows have ached painfully by days-end. Naturally, this new schedule and the demands of this new job have eaten into the hours I would normally have spent on my bike or, more importantly, with my family.   And yet, despite all the changes and rigor that this summer has brought, I have had good times with my family.  And I have had time on my bike. Perhaps not in the same quantities as I've become accustomed to, but, as happens when you're busy, you find time for the things that matter when you can.  Today, it would appear, I have a little time for blogging...

As is my habit, I took a prolonged break at the top of my ride this morning.  Whenever I ride alone I like to take a few minutes off the bike once the majority of the climbing is done, to sit and reflect and relax.  Not exactly good for training.  But who's training?  I'm just glad to be out.

So I sit and think. Or I pray. Or I compose an outline for a blog post.  Which is basically where my head headed today.

I took several poetry-workshops as an undergraduate, many years ago.  Enough that I was able to take a minor in creative writing along with my journalism degree upon my graduation.  Most of these classes were great, filled with compelling people who possessed, as I likewise did, a sincere interest in telling good stories in verse.  One or two of them, as I neared the upper echelons of undergraduate poetry courses became a bit too competitive or something. Anyway, for whatever it's worth, I began to develop a real disinterest in them as too much attention began to be paid to things like "magical realism" and other poetic ideals or techniques that just seemed like so much nonsense to me.  I almost never write poetically anymore.

I remember in one of my first poetry classes, perhaps during my sophomore year, there was this girl.  Smart. Pretty. Quick with a smile.  Three things that have always been sure to smite me.  She wrote good poems, too, as I recall.  I wanted to date her.  Probably even asked her out.  Pretty sure she said no.  And that was the end of it.  Except for our classtime. I got to see her, and bask in her smile, in class everyday.  And though she had rejected my suit, I was nevertheless still a part of her class for the balance of the term.  And that and her smile would suffice.

I remember one day, she came to class with a poem she'd written entitled Reverie, which is a neat, almost archaic word which means "to be lost in thought."  And I remember that almost everyone said nice things about the poem when she had finished reading it to us aloud.  Except for our instructor, who seemed to dwell, during her critique, on her observation that the smart-pretty girl had misused the word reverie, going so far as to suggest that perhaps she had meant reviellie instead, which, of course is a word that usually describes a trumpet sound.

I was embarrassed for my teacher, who was an otherwise excellent teacher and quite knowledgeable, and who is now an accomplished poet and university instructor, too.  Likewise, I was embarrassed for the smart-pretty girl who had written the poem, an excellent poem and a lovely reflection on life, if recollection serves.  She, by the way, is also a rather well-accomplished university professor now, if Google has its facts right.

I should have said something.  I knew our instructor was in the wrong.  Might have changed the way the smart-pretty girl perceived me.  But I'm pretty sure I held my tongue, not wanting to call out our instructor on her error. I liked her.  And she liked my poems.  And I've never been one to take sides against a teacher.  But in hindsight, I think I made the wrong choice.

Amanita Muscaria
That word, reverie, came to mind today as I sat out in the woods near the top of Newham, just to one side of the hill from the fork in the trail where it either heads down Upper Moto or up to Twisted Sister.  "Reverie: a state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts,"  is precisely the correct word for my practice of stopping for a time of meditation, no matter what form or direction it takes, at the top of my solo-rides.  It's a practice I intend to keep.

So I'm grateful, to that smart-pretty girl, for etching the memory of reverie into my mind.


daralyn said...

May you pause for moments of reverence in your new vocation. And congratulations too!

johncoe said...

thanks, a lot, daralyn. i will try to remember to pause now and then.

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey