I’m a naturally loud and weird person who expresses excitement through volume. Also, alcohol is supposed to be a depressant, but it doesn’t appear to work for me; all it does is make me happier (and louder) – until I have a little too much at which point I get weirder (a too-happy, too-loud kind of weird). But being a happy person also means you must be a little bit stupid; if you’re smart and paying attention you should be a bit pissed off at something.
Happiness is easier to find if you don’t sweat the nuances of your convictions, something most religious people have already discovered. As soon as you start peeling back the onion on your principles, you’re just going to find things that don’t line up; things that don’t line up invariably lead to questions, questions lead to thinking and suddenly what started off as a simple belief is starting to look an awful lot like work. From this perspective, atheists have it easy; there are no layers when the answer to every question is, “Life’s not fair, deal with it.”
On the other hand, its a lot of fun trying to find balance within contradictions, which is true for my chosen religion, Rule Holism. Some of The Rules build on each other, while others appear to be in conflict. But The Rules lie at the beginning of The Path to La Vie Velominatus, not at the end; learning to balance them against one another and to welcome them all into your life as a Velominatus is a never-ending struggle waged between form and function as we continue along The Path towards transcension.
These struggles are characterized by those things we know are right and those things we want to be true, something dubbed Of Course, but Maybe by Louis C.K. Here are a handful of examples that I regularly flirt with.
- It is very important to watch our diet over the holiday season. Of course. Weight is much easier gained than lost, an effect amplified with age. Of course, we should use restraint and not eat and drink too much over Christmas, especially as we enter the winter months and our inclination is to put on weight like a hibernating bear. Of course. But maybe gaining weight just before we start preparing in earnest for next year is a great way to gain fitness, using gravity assisted resistance training to build strength. Of course, putting enough weight on in December to cause adult-onset diabetes is a stupidly dangerous idea. Of course. But maybe its the only way to really get strong for next year.
- Whenever we go out riding, we should bring plenty of food and water to make sure we don’t get dehydrated or suffer la fringale. Of course. But maybe, becoming severely dehydrated effectively raises your hematocrit and being malnourished is a great way to lose weight – both of which would make us better climbers. Of course its dangerous and counter-productive to lose weight this way and we should really improve our climbing by training and dieting properly. But maybe not eating or drinking on one ride is easier than changing dietary habits and eating sensibly.
- Cycling is a lifelong undertaking, the practice of which is extended immeasurably by retaining the function of your knees. It therefore follows that to ride a compact is to spare your knees and will extend your ability to ride into old age. Of course – of course; it is reasonable to try and save the knees. But maybe boasting about scaling the neighborhood leg breaker in the 53×17 will intimidate your foes into submission and forever cast you into local legend as The Big Ring Badass. Risking your knees for bragging rights would be foolhardy. But maybe entering the local folklore is worth it.
- Whenever we are riding in dark or otherwise dangerous conditions, we should wear high-visibility clothing and employ the use of flashers and lights to make us stand out more to surrounding traffic. Of course; it would be foolish to risk our lives for the sake of fashion. But maybe all that hi-vis clothing just makes you more of a target. Maybe wearing something yellow awakens an ancient impulse in drivers to crowd anything offensively ugly. Of course, we should make ourselves as visible as possible, but maybe getting hit wearing a YJA is just a Traffic Fashion Nudge.
- We should always ride wearing a helmet. Of course. Riding without a helmet is foolish and flies in the face of reason. But maybe riding without a helmet, with the wind in your hair (assuming you have hair) or a cycling cap rakishly perched atop your head as you power up a brutal climb is worth the risk of a brain injury. Of course that would be reckless, but maybe we’re not really using our brains anyway.
It goes without saying that with the exception of the Helmet bullet, the Maybe invariably wins out.