independence

Packing it in

I’ve been thinking about who comes and goes in our lives. What ‘sticking around’ looks and feels like. I suppose I’m exploring my own understanding of what draws me toward or away from things in life. I’m also interested in what generates movements and momentum in groups or how ideas gather support, take shape and gather energy and become dominant forces – not necessarily for any particular purpose but nevertheless have social and cultural effects. I was pondering this while riding to work and realised cycling was the perfect analogy (no surprises wheelie). So here’s a wee story/narrative, let’s go for a little spin.

I’ve never really been one for staying with the pack. Going it alone is fine and I generally prefer to ride on my own. It can at times feel a little vulnerable and lonely but I’ve found ways to feel the presence of others or to become part of the wider world while travelling or training. Riding in packs gives a sense of power and presence on the road. People in cars tend to notice a big group – even if they don’t like it – it’s hard to ignore. Being in the pack affords you space so long as you play by the rules. But you can also conserve energy and stay hidden, it’s easy and being swept along without a thought of where and why we are. But it can become a trap of comfortable unconsciousness. The question is then do I want to be here and how do I get out? Getting out of a pack depends a bit on where you are located and who is around you. Sometimes it’s as small gap, a change of pace, and a signalling to others around you. Going too quickly or with sudden moves isn’t always the best even if you desperately need out. Moving to the edges or finding a break through point becomes easier if others come with you. Once free it can be a bit of a shock as the wind hits and your awareness of how closed in it had been becomes obvious. But you can also see more, and have the ability to swerve and deviate from the line and not risk pissing someone off or taking others down.

Making a break on your own is tough, but sometimes necessary and others might chase and join. Then you could be caught but a big bunch. Riding with people that want to ride at a different pace or cover different territory could see you take different routes but meet up at a later point having arrived but having very contrasting experiences. Sometimes people drop off the back, you want them to stay with you and to keep up but they just aren’t able to. There could be a chance for them to catch up on the downhill but keeping up your own momentum is also important. Packs are not inherently bad in fact, it’s fun to join the back of one from time to time but I like to know that I am still travelling somewhere I want to go. But beware of large packs and mass movements. Just because they are moving fast doesn’t mean they are going in your preferred direction. They create lots of pull, and seem to move with purpose but they don’t necessarily care about sharing space with others. In fact some packs can blow right through other smaller ones fragmenting and disorienting those riders without stopping to look over their shoulder.

I like riding out of my comfort zone, with people willing to get a bit lost, but know how to read a map and navigate. Get off the beaten track and explore some back roads from time to time. Just so long as there is coffee somewhere along the way, otherwise I will pack a sad.

Free to be in-dependent

Like many kiwis I have blood ties to the United Kingdom and even fly the Welsh flag at the odd rugby game, because quite frankly it’s much more exciting sitting with Welsh/British Lions supporters than All Black fans. Why is it that no matter how much we win by spectators always look like they’re at a funeral and that’s not just the black attire.

I’ve been a bit non-preoccupied with our own elections this Saturday but am a little more interested in Scottland going for independence in just a couple of days. Again plenty of others with better credentials can offer insight to the political, economical, social and cultural complexities of such a move. But at a deeper, personal level I understand the striving for a unique identity. We’ve been toying with the same possibility for a while.

There are some obvious difference between what is happening in the UK and the Antipodes. But should we ever become concerned that moving toward independence might be met with serious resistance let me set forth a strategic plan of such cunning and ingenuity it could only be made from number 8 wire in a shed.

For a start there is a lot of water between us and anywhere else, even that large land mass to the west. Getting here requires effort and that in itself is a deterrent. But let’s say someone tries the water route. Try landing anywhere on a surf beach in NZ and you’d have to make it through territorial local surfers protecting their patch. If they try coming in from the air it’s likely the scenery would capture pilots attention so much that by the time enough selfies had been taken they’d be half way to Australia, the Antarctic or South America. If they did make land fall, they would have to navigate our roads. It’s not just they are narrow and gyroscopically winding, the road signs make no sense so anyone trying to read a map will have no idea where they are. If they dare think they’ll beat our traffic on bikes they won’t last 5 minutes before experience PTS.  Then there is the weather, perhaps our greatest natural defense. Landing in the middle of summer it will likely be snowing and freezing.

But I reckon we have home field advantage that could add to some psychological warfare. Pump out Dave Dobbyn long enough and the exodus will create enough offshore wind those surfers will gladly let them through. If we could breed Weta to be the size of rodents or cats that is an image only a hardened entomologist could love. If all that fails we will simply torture them asking ‘so what do you think of New Zealand? Have you been here yet? They will not understand the answer to everything is ‘yeah na’ that stands for affirmative and negative depending on the intonation. Finally a decent Haka would do the trick.

Let’s remember that from space there are no painted lines and no up or down. In space no one can hear you scream, but on earth freedom sounds like ‘FREEEEEDOM’!!!! And Wetas should always be screamed at.