Reinvention

Banana Seats and Life

Banana Seats and Life

When I was eight-years-old, I had the coolest bike ever. I don’t remember the brand, probably a Schwinn, that was big then.

But the thing that made it very cool? The Banana Seat with the trick sissy bar. Yep, that was cool.

I’ve always been a lover of speed and general mayhem. I was that kid on the block that built the coolest bicycle ramps…ever.

You know the kind: pile a bunch of flat rock and strategically place a board on the top to make a ramp that you could launch yourself into the air and see how many matchbox cars you could fly over.

Hmm…to remember correctly, that flat rock? Yeah, that was broken pieces of asphalt that my buddies and I dug out of the nearest pothole (I know, we created a bigger pot hole—it was for a good cause!).

Oh, and the board? Yeah, an old shredded 2×4 or 2×6 or 2x something or other. Actually, anything the bike tires would fit on, worked juuuuust fine.

Then after this fine bike ramp was constructed?

Travel about two houses away and pedal as fast as I could. Fly up the ramp and Wham! I’m in the air and have defied gravity once again!

Again, very cool stuff.

Until one day…

I couldn’t find the perfect flat rock so I used a garden rock (um…no need to specify where that came from) to prop up the ramp.

I headed up the street on my fine banana seat bicycle and let the pedaling begin.

I was hauling buns by the time I came to the ramp.

Then, right before my tire touched the board, it slid to the side. I jerked the handle bars and I was launched, without the bike under me, straight into the gutter.

I blacked out momentarily, but when I came to, my bike was in the middle of the street, my friends just stood there staring at my corpse, and my entire right side was on fire.

Not literally on fire, but I had road rash from my right ear all the way down to my right ankle.

I still can remember the pain from that crash.

And…somehow, I survived my childhood.

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Life is full of pain.

It’s also full of good things too.

It’s extremely important to be able to see the goodness around us when feeling the pain that life dishes out at times.

Yet, the deepest wounds in life aren’t the ones we get from crashing our bicycles, but it’s the emotional pain inflicted by someone else; usually someone we trust, someone very close.

Emotional pain is deep, sharp, and can linger for years.

Enter the term…Forgiveness.

It’s an easy word to write. Easy to tell someone else to forgive. Easy to complain about someone else, “Jeez, they need to let it go and move on with life!”

But the reality is, Forgiving may be one of the hardest things on the planet to do.

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Anger, pain, joy, surprise…these are all normal reactions. Physiologically speaking, there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.

Walk into a room and everyone yells, “Surprise!” Automatically, if not expecting it, you’re going to be surprised.

Something good comes your way, you’re going to be full of joy.

Crash your bike into a city gutter? You’ll do what I did…run home a bloody mess looking for your Mommy and leave the darn bike in the street.

Broken promise? Betrayed?  A lover that decides it was just a fleeting season and now it’s time to move on?

Painful? Yes. But it also produces anger.

Anger is just as normal of a reaction and there is nothing wrong with you feeling anger.

It is NORMAL!

After the anger wears off, that’s when the tricky part starts.

Unforgiveness can warp the mind and heart and wreak havoc on you physically. Life is just too short to walk around pissed off at the past, and those that live there.

And that includes damning your own self!

Problem with emotional hurt is we have a tendency to replay what was said, the promises made, the actions done; like some horrible rerun, it plays over and over and over in our minds.

We find ourselves brooding over the hurts, which perpetuates the pain.

Brooding is an interesting word. The origins of the word is from German that means to breed, and to nurse feelings in the mind. As a noun, it relates to new born animals; as a verb it means to think deeply about something that makes us unhappy.

So, a step to Forgiveness, is to stop the reruns—the Brooding—that, unfortunately seems to happen naturally.

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For some reason, I have more of a tendency to brood and walk around under a cloud of despair even when it’s clear and sunny out.

It’s something I’ve been working on more and more over the past few years and slowly, the sun seems to be brighter these days.

Here’s a few items that have helped me to stop the reruns, refocus my energy on the positive, and ultimately has helped me Forgive others, and myself. I hope this helps in some way:

  • Journaling. Set aside some alone time, grab your computer (good old fashion notebook works too) and start writing about life. Write about whatever it is that is on your mind and heart. And, don’t hold back. Let it rip. Want to cuss, call someone bad names, throw a few F bombs around? Go for it. It’s healthy. Just don’t let anyone else read it. It’s for your eyes and your eyes only. You’ll be amazed at how clearer you will be able to think about a situation after writing about it. It’s like it purges the ick. Lot of research out there that tells us that those who journal are overall healthier and happier in life.
  • Concentrate on your Four Pillars. Your Physical, Spiritual, Mental, and Emotional health. Move, be it a walk or a run. Meditate and be grateful. Read or do a list of ideas (list 10 ideas about anything, doesn’t matter, just get the brain to think and sweat a little). Surround yourself with positive people; not those filled with drama, gossip, and complaining.
  • Grateful. I mentioned this above. It’s hard to be grateful when the reruns turn on, but this little simple thing you do is a huge game changer. I look at even the smallest of things, a flower, a bird flying, heck, just the fact I can see those things is incredible. Being grateful helps shift our thinking toward the positive and begins to erode the negative.
  • Find a confidant. Hard to do when you’ve had your heart ripped to pieces. Find someone you trust to confide in. Take it slow if you’re not sure who to trust. You don’t have to divulge everything all at once. A confidant won’t judge you or damn you; they’ll listen. And if anything, someone just to listen to us is a healing salve.
  • Accept and be kind. First(!), to yourself. When we get hurt, we have this horrible reaction of blaming ourselves. “If I were smarter, then this wouldn’t have happened.” “I should’ve listened to so-&-so, they warned me!” Needless chatter! Be kind to yourself and learn to forgive yourself. Accept you’re not perfect. Accept the fact that in life people do things to protect and preserve themselves (sometimes very selfishly) and most of the time, their actions have nothing to do with us at all. It does NOT mean you’re a bad person. Change what you can for you to be better in the future, but don’t continually beat yourself up over the past. It’s just not worth it.

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After about a month I healed up from my nasty crash.

I kept riding that very cool bike and had that thing for another 9 years before I stripped it down and used the parts to build the best BMX bike ever.

Yeah, more crashes, but very cool ones.

Life is exciting and full of good things, even the crashes…so much to learn from them that really does make us better at riding this crazy thing.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Reinvention, Self-Improvement
Science Won’t Change You

Science Won’t Change You

Crunch, crunch, crunch…

“Hey, um…,” Eve said with a mouthful of sweet goodness. She savored the slight tartness that swirled over her palate and then swallowed. She winked at the creature hanging on the limb of the tree she leaned against, turned to Adam and announced, “You should try this, honey.”

And according to that history, it all went downhill from there.

Next thing we read is The Big Guy comes to Adam asking about why The Tree was violated.

And, of course, since the dawn of mankind, we’ve been putting the blame on others.

In this case, a dude named Adam blamed his gal. Keep in mind, this hasn’t changed for centuries.

“Ahem…well…” Adam swallowed hard but not from the apple he just ate,”…well…it’s because of this woman, that You gave me.”

It’s always someone else’s fault. Here, he blames his gal and the Creator. Way to go Adam.

Again, this hasn’t changed for centuries.

Then, in the cascade of blame, Eve blames the serpent. Hell, the only one who had the balls to accept any responsibility in the matter was the serpent.

No, this isn’t a lecture on theology.

Just the fact that we homo sapiens have been blaming and reasoning as to why we do things…since the beginning.

And frankly, it doesn’t matter what you and I believe in as to how we got here in the first place.

What matters is this, we’re here right now and at some point we need to take responsibility.

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I love data. I love science. I love technology.

But!

None of that will create the type of desired change we seek.

We have tons of data about tons of things, in our lives, about our lives, and how we live our lives.

BUT!

None of all that science, research, and acquired data will change us. It never has. It never will.

Yet, we’ll sure use all of that data to reinforce why we do what we do.

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What about all the scientific data? The research? The findings that are replicated over and over and over again?

Smoking: takes care of 30% of all cancer deaths. It’s the cause of 87% of lung cancer and is associated with 15 different types of cancer.

But, the data that won’t change a smokers mind about quitting.

Fitness: it is one of the most effective ways in dealing with stress. It raises HDL (the good) cholesterol, which in turn expels LDL—the bad cholesterol that causes heart disease. Not to mention the data on losing weight and looking better and feeling better mentally.

Yet, the research doesn’t cause anyone to start exercising.

Gratitude: I could speak of Hebb’s Law and give more data to show how that practicing Gratitude everyday actually rewires the brain and the neurological pathways.

But, that won’t make someone who always sees life as a force that’s out to get them and squeeze every drop of blood out of them, and no one is to be trusted, change their minds about being grateful which in turn could make them happier, and those around them.

Never mind about all the data out there about journaling, meditating, exercising your brain and turning off the heavy doses of T.V.; the research that points us in positive directions about having positive people in our lives, and that being mindful of the now is the best way to fight off anxiety of the future and the regrets of the past.

But! We’ll use the data to boost our position and then beat others over the head as to why they should change…now!

I am guilty. Guilty of heaping guilt on those not ready for change.

Unfortunately, it’s not the data that creates the intrinsic reasoning for us to change anything in life.

It’s usually the triggers in life that forces us to change: divorce, failing health, times of depression (maybe even suicide attempts), lay-off, company downsizing, and the list is endless.

Living intentionally is about taking responsibility for where we are, what we are doing, and with whom we do that with.

The data merely helps us plot the course of our change when we’re ready for it by giving us some logical insights as to the why and how those changes benefit us.

As Legolas said in Lord of the Rings (yes, there’s more truth in fiction than you would believe), “…but change and growth is not in all things and places alike.”

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Burned out, no energy from sleep deprivation, and unhealthy relationships; yet, I did nothing to change it.

I knew the facts, I knew the data, I knew the eventual outcome, and yet, I did nothing.

I got up. I went through a routine. I clocked into work. I was stuck.

I guess you could say I woke up one day and was just sick and tired of the crushing weight from the sides of the corral.

After a few years of living this way, I took one small step. It seemed insignificant. I had no idea that something as little as writing a few, nasty, horrible, curse ridden sentences in a personal journal I started in 2012 would eventually lead to a published book, two others in the works, and this post.

It led to other changes.

Instead of the typical frump, frown, and other F words that used to be associated with my wake up in the mornings, I had no idea that I could wake up, look at the sunrise and go, “Wow, it’s a new day! There’s a lot of cool possibilities today.”

If you seek change, no matter what it is, you can do it. You can make it happen.

You might fall on your face a few times. It won’t look perfect. Those around you won’t like it. And I assure you, change is nothing what it looks like in some sterile scientific laboratory where everything is controlled.

Question now becomes…

Can you see down the road? Are you traveling in the direction you want to end up at? If not, are you ready for change?

What holds you back?

We don’t need more data, just that place in our lives where we’re willing to stop blaming others and our past, and start living intentionally; taking one tiny step in the direction of the path that burns within.

 


Photo by Hannah Gibbs

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Reinvention