Saturday, July 16, 2011

Giving Away Gold

It's another scorcher out there. Right now (@3pm) it's 89° with a heat index of 98°.

Weeks like this make me appreciate all the more the toughness of the riders in the Tour de France. Also reminds me of a famous quote i've read attributed to one of the famous riders of the past, I don't remember which one but maybe Hinault or Indurian. In response to a question about using performance enhancing drugs he said "What, you think we can do what we do on water?" :-)

Saw the mighty Mississippi River this morning! The ride from Carbondale to Murphysboro was easy. From Murphysboro to where I picked up Highway 3 to get to Chester, though, was a different story. In short, it kicked my butt. Up and down all the way with some of the climbs making even 1st gear cry in pain. Once on Highway 3 life was back to flat and except for one very nasty encounter with a dog and his owner a pleasant ride to Chester.

I admit to walking up a couple of hills into town. They were long and steep and I asked myself "why bother killing yourself?" It was the end of today's ride, it was hot, and I had nothing to prove to anyone. Why force myself to ride it? So I walked. Simple. Save the legs for cooler days and other climbs.

Made it to Chester by noon and swung by the post office to mail a few thing back to Chicago. Decided that I had a few things (cold weather gear) that I wanted, just in case, but didn't need. Given that this heat isn't supposed to relent for another week, I decided I didn't want the weight they added.

While at the post office a local stopped to chat. He's a bike rider and runner and has known other cross country riders so enjoys talking to us. He's ridden that big (20k+ people) cross-Iowa bike ride four times so has a good understanding of what this takes. He also suggested i consider staying at a local Eagle Scout campsite in town rather than camping in the park. The facilities sounded great and i could get dinner there so i readily agreed and that is what i had planned to do. After chatting a while we parted ways, him home and me to Subway for lunch.

While eating Bob showed up again, this time to invite me home to spend the night. As he said, he had thought of asking earlier but needed to go home first to check with "the boss." It turns out i'm not the first stray they accepted for the day. So here I sit in their air conditioned basement, using their wifi, a nice shower, and free access to their kitchen (which I won't use). Very, very nice couple. Friendly outgoing people with hearts of gold.

Tomorrow morning i'll cross the might Mississippi and head into Missouri. The guidebook has me stopping in Farmington tomorrow, then going to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park the next, and then on to Eminence on Tuesday. Each one of those is too short (one of them only 36 miles) and i'd like to combine them into two days somehow, but given this heat I admit to being fearful of pushing myself too far on any one day. Right now i'm guessing i'll leave the schedule alone and plan on doing a lot of reading in the afternoons. Maybe the Egyptians were right and the sun isn't just some inanimate object up in the sky... and somehow i've angered her... and this heat is her revenge???

Things to think about this afternoon...

Venkatesananda says:

"There is variety in creation; the infinite can be viewed from infinite angles and approached in infinite ways. Temperament and tradition are the main guiding (not deciding) factors here. The waters of the ocean are the same, whatever be the name given to the ocean at different points on the globe.

"The man of mystic temperament ‘beholds the self in the self by the self' in deep meditation. ... ‘I' do not see the self, but the self itself sees the self in the self. Self-realisation is merely seeing that what you and I previously regarded as the self, never existed! "

Kosho Uchiyama quotes his teacher, Sawada Roshi, as saying:

"Zazen is just our whole self doing itself by itself."

I like what Venkatesananda says, but think that he stops just short of the goal. He's right there, but leaves the meditator as that ego sitting on the cushion. Uchiyama, and Sawada, step over the stream into new land by recognizing that the meditator doesn't behold the self, the self behold's the self. That's easy to say, but not so easy to work with because if you ever say, or think, that "you've" gotten there, then you haven't — there is no "you" at that point. Don't get me wrong, that stupid Lao Bendan will still be sitting on his butt, but "he" is nowhere around.

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