Friday, May 28, 2010

Life - Rest Day @ Navone Studios

Not today, actually. I'm referring to Wednesday.

See, I took a tumble on Tuesday evening and although nothing noteworthy happened to me or the bike, I didn't quite feel like riding or racing on Wednesday night. So, although I drove to Bethel and had my bike and gear in the car, I declined to exercise my ability to remove said bike and gear from car.

Instead, I spent a very nice and relaxing few hours hanging out chez Navone Studios. You know them - they're the folks that had Bethel Spring Series registration indoors.

I ostensibly visited to take care of business, but the reality was that the place has a certain vibe, an atmosphere that's hard to capture in words or pictures. I find it really relaxing to hang out there, sitting on one of many chairs, gazing into nowhere, mind about as blank as can be. Sometimes I get almost manic with whatever task I set myself - whether it be reading, writing, whatever. Other times I just zone out, stare off into space, fall asleep.

Whatever it is, I feel a deep rooted sense of security, relaxed. It's hard to get myself into such a mental state. When I can it's (to paraphrase a former colleague) "a special and precious" time. He was referring to programs that did things "on their own", meaning "of course the programmer didn't write a bug - that behavior is magical, and we should save it because magic is a special and precious thing!"

I go looking for it sometimes, but more often it falls into my lap.

Sometimes it happens in an airport, waiting through the night for a flight. Other times it hits me over the head, late at night, prompting some furious typing on the computer, or maybe just-as-furious scribbling on paper.

But, incredibly, it happens every time I step into Navone Studios. Every Saturday I went to set up for Bethel. The Wednesday visits during the week, when I went to talk to neighbors or distribute flyers.

I don't know what it is about that place. The frame dripping from the ceiling. Shots of racers, racing, races. The slew of bikes hanging on the bike "rack", or the inevitable bike in the work stand. The team gear casually strewn around. The folks there, going about their business around me, but always conscious of me - asking if I need anything, want anything.

I thought about what makes me fall into that mental state. I sort of have to define it to describe it.

One overwhelming thing is that I need to feel like it's okay to relax. I feel like I'm in a safe haven. I don't feel that way at work, for example, because napping at the register just doesn't work. Oftentimes I don't feel this way at home because there's always something to do, something I want to do, something I need to do.

I find that certain friends' houses get me into this state - they may not know this, but they probably think I have some kind of narcolepsy thing going on because I drift off when I visit them. My dad's place - where my brother and his family live too - is another place. I get there and bam, I'm sleepy, drowsy, and can barely stay awake.

And though I said I don't often feel this way at home, there are times that I do - when the Missus and I call "time out" on errands and sigh and relax and nap and stuff.

A second important aspect of this "mental state" is feeling free to do whatever I want. If I feel the urge to check the Echo lawn equipment (I really need to empty them of the old gas/oil mixture), I can do it without feeling like I'm ignoring anyone or being obnoxious in some way. If I feel like reading a book, so be it. Or I make one of my interminable lists, thinking hard about the sub-lists associated with the list. You know, like "To do the Number One thing on the list I'll need to do A, B, and C. To do Number Two, I'll have to do A and B. And A needs to be broken down into hash mark one, two, and three."

So on and so forth.

In these safe havens, whatever my brain decides to do, I can do without any feeling of negativity.

Another factor in this "heightened state of being" has to do with the people around me, their attitudes, their actions. At my dad's it's pretty much always relaxing, with no pressure to do anything. Ditto friend's houses. Sometimes we are there to help out, but usually it's just hanging out, and that means relaxing.

No stress, no expectations.

When people let you be, it's very relaxing.

Finally there's the environment. Usually quiet, sometimes noisy, no unusual anything - smells, colors, noise, maybe some background noise or acoustics that isolate me from the rest of the room. It could be a loud party, anonymous in its noise, or it could be a cafe near the ocean, quiet like a library, breeze passing through. Nothing unpleasant though, else I get on edge.

I suppose if I had one of those Japanese gardens, with the stones and the water flowing and a perfect balance of sight, sound, and texture, it would be relaxing. But I think that the stress of making such a garden "just so" would kill it for me. Some of the stereotypical "relaxation" environments get me on edge - that would be one of them.

When I know that I can find myself in this mental place I'll make an effort to get there. I've wanted to get to Navone Studios for weeks now, but each week something else has come up and diverted me away.

So when I headed down Wednesday to Bethel, to Navone Studios, knowing there'd be a race there, I wasn't necessarily going there to race. But just in case the urge hit me, I packed my full gear bag, my bike, even the helmet cam.

I knew, though, that it was very unlikely that I'd ride. My neck felt sore from the crash, I wasn't sure how my legs would feel, and, frankly, I didn't want to leave the studio to ride the bike.

So instead I hung out there, talked with Frank, said hi to the racers, listened to the various stories and such, and soaked in the atmosphere.

I don't think I dozed off, and I don't think I did any manic work. I never got my bike out, nor did I open my notebook.

I watched the races there, soaked in the vibes.

Talked with some of the racers there. Caught up with one, who didn't know that the blue car was mine - he thought I was just jokin' around. I finally popped the hatch to show him my bike. He laughed. And then we talked about the bike.

The races ended, the riders left.

I had some of Frank's pizza - a newer, thin crust, delicious masterpiece, spices popping out at you.

Throughout my visit - probably close to 5 hours long - we talked. Talked about racing, compared wounds and their accompanying stories. He had a real reason to fall - he was racing mountain bikes. Mine wasn't so good.

We talked about next year, how to make things better.

Talked about some of the less appealing aspects of the sport, stuff in the news, stuff that's been news.

And when it started getting dark, when traffic on the highways had eased, I went back out to the car. I almost forgot about my wounds until I dropped myself into the driver's seat (I couldn't get in gracefully yet). My neck reminded me of its soreness when I turned to grab the seatbelt strap. I could feel the Tegaderm on my hip when I pushed in the clutch.

The car started right up, its unique burble music to my ears. I still can't believe that I have this car, that I get to drive it, even though it's going on seven years old. It revved nicely, ready to go, eager. Music started coursing through the car, the beat picking up where it left off when I last turned off the car.

I called the Missus, to let her know I was on my way. She had stuff going on too, and so we'd just meet each other back at the house.

I looked over at the Echo equipment on the passenger seat, on my gear bag, next to my first aid stuff, my business stuff, my cooler. In the mirror I could see the wheels sitting on top of my bike, and, reflecting off of the studio doors, the car's taillights.

I let the clutch out, nicely, a blip to ease the transition, and the car rolled forward.

I left Navone Studios behind.

Mentally I felt clear.




And that's what rest days are all about.

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