Tears and snot and cycling on Mission Blvd

My good friend Al, who is from Zimbabwe, tells me that having to hunt baboons is the worst thing ever. When you find the baboons, you have to run them down over hours and hours. Eventually, the baboons take to the trees as they tire. When you catch up with the baboons, you shoot them from the ground as they hide and run around in the tree. When you hit a baboon, it starts tearing itself to pieces trying to find and remove the bullet.

Humans endure this too, just it is called therapy.

The good news for the baboon is that there is only one bullet. The bad news is that it will die. The spectacularly good news for humans is that nobody is going to die. The bad news is that we have many bullets, and in the process of removing them, our relationships may die.

The advice Richard Buckner gives, to keep your bullet safe inside, is good advice until it turns out to be terrible advice!

Recently I have been going through some serious stuff. Stuff that hurts everybody it encounters.

It is possible to hold it together during such a period, until you lose it. Until one day you wake up with “No Children” by the Mountain Goats in your head, and notice that you are beyond the self-destruction it portrays. Not expected.

So I listened to it, to see if I had finally transcended the rage. I was in luck; I seem to have moved past the need for self-destructive bloodletting. But that just left me hollow. Hollow in a way that only someone seeking the Mountain Goats as a measure of loneliness can know.

The Mountain Goats had me though, in their tractor beam of dysfunctional rage and love and pain. I listened on as I rode up the coast to work.

Around Mission Bridge, heading north out of OB, ‘broom people’ came on.


By the end of the song I was crying. Snot, always a hazard when riding, had overcome the capacity of my toweling bike gloves to absorb. I was a mess. I was riding as fast as I could in my hardest gear, up the long hill of Mission Blvd in Pacific Beach that I usually gear down for. I was hurting my legs and my knees. When they complained I heard myself whispering ‘fuck you legs, fuck you’ over and over again. I didn’t care if I couldn’t walk at the end of the ride. Pain brought awareness. But awareness did not help anything.

Frat boys and sorority girls stared at me as I rode by, a mess of tears and snot, a dervish of destruction working himself faster and faster into the pain, hoping to melt it away.

Finally, after ‘holding it together’, pushing it down, the Mountain Goats had found the sensitive spot I had hidden from. And they poked it, and poked it, and poked it.

That was yesterday.

Today, when I rode Mission Blvd, I was feeling a lot more calm. I was listening to a really awesome mix called “Southern Hemisphere Roots’ that the awesomeest people in Santa Cruz, Jonty and Shelly, had made for me. It was super soulful and healing. It was like a hug from afar.

Today, they were pruning the paperbark trees that line Mission, immigrants like me. The smell of paperbarks took me straight back home. To my childhood, when things seemed OK, at least cosmetically. To security. I thought of my family, my grandad whose house I grew in with paperbarks around, my brother and sister and mother, and scenes set among the paperbarks in my distant home. The music enfolded me, the memories made me feel alone, but comforted.

I wonder if I will ever ride Mission without tears in my eyes in the rest of my life.

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~ by maoctopus on June 16, 2011.

One Response to “Tears and snot and cycling on Mission Blvd”

  1. Ben at times the distance may seem far but you are always in my heart your pain is my pain, your delight is my delight, your happiness is my happiness, and of your compassion and goodness I am extremely proud. Release your negative emotions, don’t wast any effort on them because they tether you to a bad place. Your energy, time and efforts are much more productive when used for good thoughts and the resulting peace and happiness that will come your way. Be sure to experience the great joy that the most insignificant things can provide if you have time to observe them. You are one of the best although I don’t think you know it. Hear the good, not just the bad.

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