Howdy Traipser! If you’re new around here, I’m Dakota and this is my newsletter about reclaiming creativity and ditching tired personal paradigms.
If this were 1908, I’d drive around throwing newspapers against your door from a *new* Ford Model T to deliver this edition of Traipsing About. Instead, *thunk* this email landed in your inbox!
Here in Bend, we’re enjoying watching two red-tailed hawks nest in our backyard tree. (I love their shrill shrieks). It’s still cold af in the morning and it snowed this week, but spring WILL arrive.
Also, a thank you to Traipsing reader Lee, who pointed out last newsletter that in ancient Egypt I’d be writing hieroglyphic, not cuneiform. And if I were writing cuneiform, I'd be doing it on clay tablets in Persia, not on papyrus in Egypt. Y’all are smart!
This week on Telescoping About, Edition #122:
Telescopes, binoculars and magnifying glasses
How’s your balance?
Grammar can slow us down
Traipsing Tidbits: travel hacks and inspiration, art, and lots of music.
ICYMI: last time I wrote about bikepacking on a plant-based diet, a post I’d wanted to write forever. If you’re into backpacking instead, a lot of the info also applies.
Ditching the future telescope
Recently a friend asked me what I’m looking forward to. My answer wasn’t bikepacking or a trip overseas, but “continuing to develop the ability to be happy and satisfied without constant new experiences.”
Boring, right? Who kidnapped the old Dakota?!
(C’mon, you don’t actually read Traipsing About for bikepacking photos and van build posts, do you?)
I said this to my friend because in some ways, my life has less shiny *new* in it than ever before. My back injury is persisting, my business is in the tank, our elderly kitty Oliver makes it tough to travel…
Usually, my way through is ACTION. Hack, slice, dice, a metaphorical machete clearing a path. Onward!
But this time? I need to rest my back. The economy and my industry will recover sometime. We’re committed to being with Signore Gatto to the end while his quality of life is good. (Watching his connection with Chelsea is one of the sweetest, most heart-warming things ever.)
In fact, I’ve realized that using a telescope to futurecast, to peer into the distant future, makes me miserable. My brain defaults to “things will always be this way.” Hopes and dreams feel heavy, morphing into burdens. “I’ll never bikepack again!”
But if I kick the telescope over and pick up a magnifying glass, things shift. I trade decades and years for days and hours. Everything pivots, brightens. Perspective returns.
Instead of hacking, I need to take a page from the book Radical Acceptance:
The way out of our cage begins with accepting absolutely everything about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience.
Sooo I’m trying to focus closer in. Daily walks or hikes in beautiful Central Oregon. I feel connected to Chelsea, my family and close friends. My piano, drawing, and language endeavors continue to captivate me. Yesterday I devoured Chelsea’s homemade pineapple upside-down cake topped maraschino cherries a friend canned for us.
What else does a boy need? Up close, life is good.
Funny how zooming in works. It’s almost like…if I stay in the present moment…I’m happier?! Damn you, Buddhists, for continuing to nail things.
I’ve even found I can zoom out a bit—binocular distance!—and dream. Some van trips, hauling Mr. Gatto out to Airbnb on the Oregon coast, a few other glimmers in the distance. But I’ve gotta just say no to telescopes.
As they say, this too shall pass. Yes, even my back injury, which is improving.
But for now, it’s time for another piece of pineapple upside-down cake.
Falling over with my eyes closed
I have good balance and can stand on one leg, do tree pose in yoga, and walk on a slackline. Go me. Woooo. (←sarcasm)
The caveat is that all happens with eyes open. However, when mobility master Kelly Starrett mentioned the SOLEC test (standing on one leg, eyes closed) in this interview, all my balance pride splatted on the floor. Eyes closed, I’m like a wavy tire store gumby…but with more falling over.
Turns out SOLEC is important because it tests your ability to balance without visual inputs, using only your vestibular system or proprioception. Both are very handy for when you get up in the night and can’t see, which is partly why people fall down more at night.
Try it! Close your eyes and try to stand on each leg for 30 seconds. If you’re as bad as I am, perhaps it’s a good one to add to your routine. I noticed all kinds of muscles in my feet firing up and am already improving after a week of practice while I brush my teeth.
I won’t be trying eyes closed on a slackline anytime soon though.
He, she, they…
Unless you’re living under a rock the size of a moon of Jupiter, you’ve likely encountered the discussion around gender pronouns and the use of he/she/they. I’m all for calling people what they want to be called—let’s do this.
However, I’ve noticed that when authors switch between he and she seemingly at random, it derails my thoughts. “Why did they choose to use she right there versus he? Is it because they actually feel the opposite way?!”
More and more, I tried to simply use singular they instead of he or she since the gender usually doesn’t matter. Then the writing guide The Sense of Style hammered it home, saying “they” actually creates a better reading experience:
Singular they has history and logic behind it. Experiments that measure readers’ comprehension times to the thousandth of a second have shown that singular they causes little or no delay, but generic he slows them down a lot.
My takeaway: unless someone’s gender is a key point to what we’re writing, leave it up to the reader to decide what they want to picture.
Traipsing About Tidbits
For zat travel: Airhelp can get you compensated for delayed or canceled flight and you only pay if they’re successful (via Brent and Michael’s 8th post in their excellent series about travel hacking!)
For zee inspiration: in 2007, C and I had dinner with our landlord, Dan. He got fired up on our travel stories, hit the road…and still hasn’t stopped traveling! So cool—you never know if a spark will turn into a fire.
For dee eyes: I have no idea how this guy makes these fabulous glass sculptures without constantly breaking them!
For doze ears: I’ve enjoyed listening to the works of musicians in Ted Gioa’s Intriguing Musical Artists of 2023, including Madison McFerrin, Khruangbin, and Nora Brown. (All Spotify links.)
Quote of the Week
You forget that you have it all right now anyway, and you don’t know it. Why not concentrate on the now instead of hoping for better times in the future? Why not understand the now instead of forgetting it and hoping for the future? Isn’t the future just another trap?
From the fantastic book Awareness by Anthony De Mello
You’ve reached the end of Traipsing About newsletter #122.
This week’s unsolicited
Does this habit still serve me or am I blindly following an old routine?
(I, for one, recently stopped tracking my daily workouts or outdoor activities in a spreadsheet, something I’d done SINCE 2007.)
Catch you next time!
P.S. People aren’t as bad (or good) as we think they are.
Thanks for reading Traipsing About! I appreciate you taking the time to read it. I always love to hear from you, so hit reply and send me an email anytime. I read and respond to every one!
The best way to help this newsletter grow is to share it with a friend. If you’re that friend and want to subscribe, just hit the button below.
I love the examples of enjoying the day-to-day more by shifting perspective!
"But if I kick the telescope over and pick up a magnifying glass, things shift.
I trade decades and years for days and hours.
Everything pivots, brightens.
And the joy of pineapple upside-down cake - yum.
Recommending a video producing guy who making a life as a vagabond and using his scantily clad Asian wife to pose and play in half of his videos is bad enough, but it reflects on you, too. My girlfriend (wife) and I spent two years hitchhiking around the world through over 50 countries so I know much of what this character is doing. His form of exploitation has had a universal appeal since 5000 years before our Common Era. It's taking advantage of less fortunate people, often ignorant, always poorer. They'll do whatever get food for their family. But starting a co-op, offering to fund education, teaching the less fortunate to lift their entire community... ? That's nowhere to be seen or heard. Sad