Month: May 2015

Bicycling Lessons

My favorite pastime used to be reading. Now it is bicycling and reading. Together those two hobbies has taught me some life lessons. This topic is actually exciting for me since I have many fun-filled riding experiences. I hope you would find it fun too. And yes, I read books and magazines about bicycling (from touring to racing), and I can assure you one thing: you can never learn to ride a bicycle by reading about it.

The funny thing is my grandson learned how to ride in one try. He used to ride behind me a few times on his tiny bicycle with training wheels. One day, he made a comment that “riding looks easy”. In the back of my mind I was thinking “oh yeah, let’s see how good you are”.

One day his dad took off the training wheels. Then he mounted the bike, held the handlebars with confidence and started pedaling. He was able to control the bicycle on the first try. Amazing kid! His only lesson was watching me ride my bicycle. I guess he can connect the dots pretty fast, right?

Here’s a couple of my riding experiences and the life lessons I gleaned from it:

Prepping

Before every ride, it’s a good idea to make quick check of the major components of a bicycle. Tires inflated to the right air pressure and free from debris? Brakes work? Handlebars tight, no loose parts? Is there enough drinking water? Enough clothes or overdressed for the weather?

In our daily lives, preparation takes away some of the unexpected. Being prepared makes our journey to our destination much easier, less stressful and more enjoyable. It’s prudent to ensure that equipment, tools and materials needed to finish a task are in available and in good working condition before we start.

Falling into gravel

One day at the end of a high intensity ride, I suddenly found myself riding to the edge of the road and falling a few inches to a gravel strewn path on the road side. To my surprise, my bike continued to ride over the gravel. It slowed and the handlebar was clattering from the rough surface, but it tracked straight. I pedaled slower for a few yards and looked for where the road is almost the same level as the gravel area. Then I eased back into the road.

We’ve all experienced going steadily towards our goal, only for obstacles to come our way.  Everything was flowing smoothly, the destination was within sight, the we encounter a rough patch on the road. What are we to do? This is the time when we should maintain our focus towards the goal. Life is full of challenges. Without them, it’s boring. We need to watch our balance, gather our wits and steer right back to the right direction.

I have more to share but I’ll do it in several separate posts.

Have fun riding!

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Life Is Not A Shortcut

I remember back when I was 13 years old and my class went on a field trip to a park that was located about 1/3 of the way up a mountain. We were dropped off by a bus at the foot of the mountain. Then we have to walk about three hours to get to the park. We happily discovered shortcuts – steep trails that go perpendicular to the winding road.

There were several of these shortcuts and we used almost all of them. We reached the park happily in less than two hours and enjoyed it’s scenery, cool breeze and slight fog.

Isn’t it wonderful to have shortcuts in life?

For mountain trails, yes but life in general – no. If we take shortcuts, we may end up hurting others.

Most things take time to master. There are no quick way to do it. In increasing income, some people indulge in lottery tickets as their hope to a “better life”. The odds of winning the grand prize is higher than getting hit by lightning twice. The rare people who win find out that having a lot of money can be a curse, or worse can be fatal. But you don’t have to believe me, do research about “lottery winners”.

I remember when if you want to be a nurse, you have to go through four years of college. These days, there are schools which offer an assistant nurse certification for just a few months of studies. The result is we have too many people in the medical field that are not really there to get the job done but just to have good income.

I know of two ladies who focused their time studying during college. At graduation time, they received Summa Cum Laude honors. They were smart but it didn’t guarantee top honors. It’s the time reading textbooks, researching and intensive studying that brought them over the top.

Most successful businesses were started with a lot of time spent on the owner’s garages for years. They worked 12-20 hour days in the first few weeks tapering off to 12 hour workdays later on. Their businesses progressed due to the amount of time, effort and planning put into it. No shortcut there.

A Billionaire suggested that in order to have a good financial future, people in their 20s should continue to live like they’re still in college to save money. This means sharing housing costs by living with roommates, driving an old reliable car, no dining out and no unnecessary shopping. I think this billionaire subsisted on ketchup sandwiches while he was in college so he’s credible.

In life – to achieve something – first you must make it your goal. Second, your energy and talents should be focused on that goal. Third – you have to spend quality time – lots of it – to make it happen.

It’s the same in relationships – you can’t really prove that you love someone unless you spend time with them. We say we love God. How many times a day do we spend time in prayer? Do we take time to study His Word?  How about our spouse? Do we really love them? Or do we spend more time at work or with our buddies? We could go on and on but I think you can figure out the rest.

Yes, there are really no shortcuts in life.

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The Setup For Misery

This past weekend, one of the most expensive sporting event happened. I’m sure you know what it was. I was reading the comments of some of the usual commenters on yahoo.com and they felt that they’ve been had, and I realized that I have come to the same conclusion.

Just in case you didn’t know, this event charged $100 less a few cents for every household willing to pay that price. Millions of people paid that price but in the end they realized that the event did not live up to their expectations.

Many people also paid the 10,000-50,000 (maybe more?) per seats in the arena. Most of them are bought by very rich people but I bet you there’s a few thousand there that cannot really afford the tickets but want to be part of the happening. To what end? No one cares anymore a few days later.

The same event caused thousands of people to bet millions of dollars. Many of them lost. I wonder how many of those that lost can afford to lose their money? Someone said that gambling losses is tax for those unable to think critically (I made it pleasant because he called it “tax for the stupid”).

But isn’t that the pattern? We get lured electronically into spending our money in so many unnecessary things. They appeal to our sense of pride, as in “I deserve to buy this because I worked so hard for it”.  Did we know that there is an alternative to not buying? Did we know that working hard in itself is already the reward?

Annually, billions of dollars get transferred from the hardworking regular employee to many people which I will categorize simply as “entertainers”. I don’t know about you but money is very hard to earn (if you earn it honestly) yet at the push of an app button, the hard earned salary is transferred to a person or corporation who’s only job is to “entertain”.

If you really think about it, the dark forces of this world designed these things to make our lives miserable. It is up to us to not let it happen. We can start by analyzing our income and expenses. If most of them is spent on “wants” instead of “needs”, we are going down the slippery slope of misery.

It’s time for a change. Thomas Jefferson said “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. If we want to live a free life, we have to constantly exercise diligence.

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