striking out in the sand...

I am always trying to stay above the negativity.  I try to control my emotions to keep my head in the right place all the time.  However, even this cool cucumber looses the cool sometimes.  It is the nature of the human existence.  We are emotional beings.  I am no different.  Christine and I cruised back down to Moab again to rip the mountain bikes on some slickrock.  Everything was going smoothly until it wasn't, and then I started to unravel.  A series of mishaps started to add up, and I could not fight the mind control that the downward spiral of our first day had me in.  

^The drive down was littered with scattered thunderstorms.  No big deal.  Made the drive a little more gnarly on Utah's deadly Highway 6, but relatively smooth sailing.  No problems...yet.

^This rainbow over the slickrock landscape gave us a rather warm welcome, which was quickly followed by the let down of the "Campsites Full" sign.  We rallied on to the next spot to look for a campsite.  The sun was setting so we were running out of daylight to see what we were doing.  Still not a too much of a problem, but the scales are starting to tip.

^We found a site and were in a hurry to get our setup rolling when the first real kick in the pants came.  Christine locked the keys in the Jeep.  We had nothing out of the vehicle yet.  Also, we were in the middle of the desert with nothing to even try to break in with except rocks.  Christine walked to a neighboring site, and managed to get a coat hanger.  After much struggle I managed to break into our Jeep.  We were saved.  The two of us quietly worked through our campsite setup with frustration lingering just inside our ability to speak cordially.  A campfire burned off all of our locked door anger, and the rest of the night rolled out like the starlight sky.   

^Morning brought a whole new barrage of setbacks that brought me to this pouty face photo.  A slow morning gave way to a few annoying trailhead parking lot experiences.  Then the shove off on our first ride attempt resulted in my realization that my bike was totally incapable of making it through the ride in the first 100 yards of the trail.  My chain was jumping off the gears like rats off a sinking ship.  We called off the ride, and descended back down to Moab along with my descending attitude.  The $250 bill at the shop was an additional slap in the mouth.  By now my attitude was so bad that my wife was walking around me on eggshells.  We had a while to wait as the techs solved my bike problems, so we took advantage of the time to get on a Wi-fi signal at a local restaurant.  I needed to correct a bonehead move I made in forgetting to submit some ads to Cody Smith, the Telemark Skier magazine designer.  So we ordered the worst pulled pork sandwich either of us have ever tasted, and struggled through a bad internet connection.  My poor frame of mind made the lingering "sending" message and dry pork so annoying to me that I could barely stand myself.  I was boiling over.  Poor Christine was just trying to hold me together.        

^It was like trying to push this boulder.  My head was in a downward spiral.  We finally made it to a point where we could get out on a short ride after the whole day was pretty much gone.  We chose a short out and back as a result of time.  I was starting to emerge from my spiraling attitude when I snapped this metaphor of my wife struggling to push me up and out of my terrible mindset.   

^It would actually be this wrong turn that would start to break me.  Obviously we didn't know it at the time, but I snapped this photo right about the time we were making a wrong turn that would take us off our route.  When we realized our mistake we were too deep.  We had to roll with the mistake and cut our ride short.  Something snapped in my brain.  All I could do was descend into hysterical laughter at the realization that nothing had gone right all day.  I had just officially chalked the whole day up to a proper baseball analogy of just flat out striking out.  We would get another chance at the plate tomorrow, and the acceptance of the strike out actually calmed me down.

^The riding was shot.  Now we had to find a campsite again.  However, we totally lucked out by founding this killer spot among some slickrock.  The tide had turned along with my attitude.  We could only laugh at the experiences we just had as the sun set on our dismal day. 

^Dinner brought some more baseball analogies as we discussed how we needed to fuel up for another at bat with the next day.  We were happy with our great campsite, warm full belles, and the promise of a full night sleep of ahead of us.


^...and shine.

^A new sunrise was another chance to us to knock one out of the park this time.  Yesterday's strike out was behind us now.  We were ready for any curveballs that the universe could throw at us.  

^Just like in baseball, being able to swing and whiff at a few pitches allowed us to get a read on things to come back better prepared.  Hardened from the disappointments of the day before we were calloused to anything that would try to hold us down.  We even went back to the same restaurant that gave us the dogpile pulled pork.  They totally redeemed themselves with a stellar breakfast burrito.  The beginning of our ride began just as smooth as the red slickrock we were riding on.  The tide had turned.

^Christine's smile shows it.

^The Shrimp Rock trail marker came and went with ease and speed.  We were ripping.  I had overcome myself and my salty emotions.  It was not easy or pretty, but the downward spiral had turned upward toward the bright blue sky.   

^All the while ascending big slickrock spines.

^On the bright side.

^By this time I was only going downhill on the bike.  My attitude was on the up and up.  Christine and I took our swings with our second chance at bat, and we hit one out of the park.  Striking out only sucks if you don't get back up to the plate to take another swing.  No one can hit a home run every time at bat in baseball.  You can't even expect to get a base hit every time.  Even the best hitters strike out sometimes.  These human lives we lead are no different.  Sometimes we blow it, get beat, strike out,  and totally fail.  The difference comes with what you do with your next chance.  How do you fight back and emerge with resilience.  

^We drove out of Moab with tired legs, dusty red sand smiles, and a soundtrack of the bluegrass angel, Allison Krauss, singing some vastly appropriate lyrics from her song, "The Lucky One".  The insightful lyric goes like this; "To you the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing."  I have always tried to live by ideas like that, but it can be hard.  Sometimes when your losing you can also lose the perspective that you are still playing the same great game.  A game far greater then America's great baseball pastime, but with many parallel lessons to be learned.  This is the game of life, and it is a wild and crazy game with all the twists and turns of any legendary World Series game seven.  There are heros and goats, home runs and strike outs, winners and losers, and we all get our turn at all of it.  However, the key lesson to take from it all in both baseball and life is that it is not always about the wins and loses, but how you choose to play the game each and every day.  Swing... batter, batter, batter... swing!