Take the high road, take it like a man

I have a pattern of embarking on some new thing in life with great zeal. Like learning to ride a bike, I’ll strap on some training wheels and start cautiously pedaling around on my new thing.  The feeling of propelling myself forward in this novel way is fascinating.  My fantasies about racing around at high speeds with dexterous mastery fascinate me and take hold of my imagination.  I take the training wheels off and begin pedaling around. Sure enough, it feels AMAZING to take those corners and lean into them, in a way the training wheels wouldn’t allow. I pick up more speed. I leave my cul-de-sac and head for the hills. On my way to the hills, I gain a false sense of confidence about my level of mastery.  I arrive at the hills. I become an alchemist and blend the natural forces of gravity with my bravado.

In an instant that barely qualifies to be called an instant, I realize that I’m no longer moving. There’s blood in the dirt a crescendo of throbbing pain emerges, commanding almost all of my attention.

I’m in love with fantasies of my own expertise. I let my ego get involved and it starts calling the shots.  I’m that guy that will buy a new gadget and start trying to use it without ever reading the directions. You see, if I can make this thing work on my own, not only do I get to benefit from the cool things this gizmo does, I get to bathe in the glory of how smart I am.

Sometimes, I might even buy these gadgets, not because I really need a thing to help me ____________ better, but just because I want the validation of having figured it out. God, I can be so needy at times.  This is another case study in how a hole in your heart will cause you to waste all kinds of time, money, energy.  When said gizmo happens to be a person, it’s staggering to see how much heartache and pride I’m capable of pissing away, all in the futile pursuit of “doing it my way”.

There is a fine line between being a visionary genius and a needy fool.  Sometimes I think I have transcended friction based travel, and other times I am rudely reminded that I’m just an idiot trying to reinvent the wheel.

It’s time to pick up the pieces of my bike, stumble back to the cul de sac, and put those training wheels back on for a while. It’s time to submit my will to the tutelage of those who have gone before me and have been willing to teach me.

One of Maynard James Keenan’s songs with the band Puscifer really struck a chord with me this morning:

Paul Duane

Paul Duane is a photographer, writer, and talk show host based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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