Dreaming Up a New Life

For those of you who know me personally - outside of a computer that is - you’ll have probably heard me mention Psycho-Cybernetics. It was updated and reprinted, but it’s original publication date was 1960. It is the original self-help book. It practically defined the whole genres.

The 5 minute introduction is thus: your current situation in life - not economically, but emotionally - is based on you. Your self-image. Dr. Maltz, the original author, noticed that some patients of his plastic surgery practice would come out of their surgery and be a completely new person, while other’s would hold on to the old image of themselves. The ears could be reduced, the nose improperly set after being broken, straightend; but some people still felt like someone who had big ears or a Frankenstein nose. He concluded that this was related to the way the person saw themselves, and the original PsychoCybernetics was born.

From there, he realized that your self-image, while deeply ingrained and often subconscious, could be modified by the mental environment you set up for yourself. Through mental visualization - or as he coined it, the Theater of the Mind - you start to adjust your self-image and change your situation. The thought (pardon the pun) is that by having an end goal in sight, you will start to find yourself subconsciously and consciously putting yourself in positions to make that goal a reality.

Every athlete that’s been at their sport for any length of time will be familiar with this. Mental practice, the mental game, the game between the ears. All things we’re used to hearing. My best races have always come after the proper mental preparation. I had been through what was going to happen so often that I already knew the outcome of the race. I would stay focused, calmly react to anything that was thrown my way, and put in the best effort I could that day.

So this morning, after a good hour on the road bike, I walked to the store to pick up some food for lunch. While walking across the street, I started thinking that I’m in a place where I want a change. The Psycho-Cybernetics in me kicked in and I started imagining what I want that life to be. The rest of this post is just that. I’m not sure how I’ll get to that end, but the first step is identifying where I’m going.

I want to live in the mountains. Plain, simple, and something I keep coming back to. Every time I’ve been in Flagstaff this year, I’ve left thinking “this is where I should be”. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Flag, but right now that seems like the most realistic option.

In the mountains, I’m torn between two places to live. One, I would love to have a place on the outskirts of town with an acre or two. A nice old-growth pine forest for the lot, and a cabin. It has to have a wood burning stove to provide the majority of the heat. I’m not thinking rustic, something that’s comfortable and uses technology, but doesn’t overpower you with it.

The other option in a town like Flagstaff would be to live near the center of the old downtown. It would be great to find an unconverted loft with 2,000 - 3,000 sq. ft. of open space to make into a home. Oh, and it would have to have an old freight elevator - the kind with the guard across it instead of a real closing door - to get to the upstairs. Big windows on one side would be a necessity; with a view of the mountains or the town.

Once I’m there, I want a simple lifestyle. Working remote almost all the time so I’m working from home would be perfect. I hate commuting, unless it’s being used as a good reason to ride a bike. I’ll get up early in the morning, start on the morning’s work. Mid-day, I’d take off for a few hours to get a ride in. After coming back and showering and eating, I’d get started back up on the late-afternoon’s work.

I’ll keep that up until that evening when I start supper. I’d fix my own meals every week night and relegate eating out to weekends or special occassions. I love eating out. Good food, good atmosphere, and almost always good company, but I really love cooking. Spending 30 - 45 minutes a day fixing a meal is therapy for me. It’s calming, centering. Spending that time cooking with someone else is better than therapy.

The springs will be spent preparing for the upcoming racing season. Getting in good base miles and starting to up my intensity. As the summer comes in, I’ll start spending time on the road or in the air heading out to the major races. After a few years of spending time at altitude, racing back east even with all the humidity will seem easy and I’ll finally be able to put in the effort I know I’m capable of when I’m racing with the big boys in Colorado and Utah.

The fall will be spent riding for fun. Group rides, weeking camping trips with my B.O.B. Trailer in tow, playing on the big bike. I’ll also get in some good camping trips, even if it is just thirty minutes from where I live. This will be the transition period from a hard season of racing as I just reconnect to just having fun on the bike and outdoors.

The winter will be spent snow-shoeing and cross country skiing. That’ll help with the cardio and serve as good base building for the next racing season. I’ll take up downhill skiing too just for fun and to help with my coordination. No, that’s a lie. I’ll do it just to give my mother one more thing to worry about! :-) And you can’t forget the ski-bike. I’ll have to have one of those, maybe two. One that’s set up for XC with some sort of propulsion, and another that’s set for downhill.

I’ll spend a few days every few weeks living out of a hotel or crashing at friend’s places in a warmer climate so I can get some good training in on the bike and make sure my legs remember how to work for the next year’s racing season. Speaking of racing season, I’ll have my pro card and be able to race at that level. I might not be winning at that level I’ll be holding my own.

I’ll have a fireplace that’s the focal point of my living room, not my TV. Some big comfy chairs and my comfy couch will surround it with blankets to curl up in while I’m reading. In the winters, there will be a perpetual kettle on the stove for tea and hot chocolate and extra blankets in the closets for the beds so you fall asleep feeling the weight of 5 blankets push you in to sleep. In the summers, the house will be laid out that you rarely - if ever - use the AC. Just open the windows and a cool breeze will keep the house cool. The fresh air will be good for my lungs and I’ll have finally gotten rid of this allergy crap that’s been bugging me since I moved to Phoenix.

I’ll need two rooms with a view. One for my office. The view will help keep me inspired, realizing the “work” I do is to give me this life style and to provide inspiration. I work better when I can take a few seconds every now and then and just look aimlessly outside and watch the world move by. A few deep breaths and 30 seconds of watching the bushes or trees sway or traffic drive down the road and I’m recentered.

The second one is for an art room. There will be a desk with a computer, but a computer that’s just used for art projects: photography processing, printing, finding inspiration, etc., etc. There’ll be a drawing table that is kept clear except for the pad of paper and the rack of pencils I’ll keep handy and use on a regular basis. I might take up painting. If I do, there’ll be an easel in the room with all my painting supplies within reach. I’ll keep my guitar in this room and keep it out of the case because I’m playing again. The case will become decoration and I’ll only use it if I’m taking my guitar somewhere. My piano will also be set up and I’ll have finally started the lessons to learn how to play jazz piano.

I’ll live a pedestrian life style. My car will be used sparingly, only on big trips out of town or when I’m going to the store and need to buy a lot. I’ll be involved in the town; know what’s going on, attend a few town council meetings even. I’ll get involved in another IMBA group that’s as good and active as ER or help get one to that point. I’ll start building and maintaining trails again.

I’ll start devoting a set amount of time each week to open source software. There’s a few pet projects that I have that I’d like to get out of the idea stage and there’s always existing projects that can use a hand. I’ll make time for these so they become something I do instead of believe in.

I’ll start taking a few classes at a local university or college, or maybe online. I’ll focus on history, like my original plan was back in ‘99. The degree won’t be the end goal, but if I get there great.

Finally, I’ll have someone to share all of this with. Maybe they’re not crazy about this whole plan, but they’ll like that I’m crazy enough to dream it all up on a lazy Saturday.

So there’s the manifesto for my life. The way I want it to be. I know it’s not all going to happen at once or next week. Hell, I even know that it’s not all going to happen at the same time, there’s just too much there I want to do. But that’s where I want to be… That’s who I want to be. I’m sure it will be an evovling goal, so this post might just get updated.

Next step, figuring out how to start moving toward this goal.