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Riding Tahoe and other Adventures

ImageSo this weekend I rode my bicycle around Lake Tahoe. Yes. All the way around. Haha. It is fun to say, especially when people always ask me if I really did go all the way around the lake. It’s 72 miles of fantastic scenery and over 4,000 feet of climbing!

I have been training for a ride called the AIDS Lifecycle, which Imagetakes place on June 2nd. It is a 545 mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Yes, all on bicycle. 🙂 I can hardly believe it myself. In January I had practically no experience on a bicycle.

When I joined the South Bay Blaze cycling group, I was scared to even ride 20 miles.

They told me that if I did the weekly training rides, which went up approx. 5 miles each week, I would be ready for the Lifecycle. With each ride, I felt tired at the end of each ride. In fact, I was exhausted. But as the weeks went on I felt more confident in my riding. I began to learn the lingo, how to call out road hazards to my fellow cyclists, and how to properly eat and drink for the rides (I also learned the wonderful recovery benefits of chocolate milk!) Sure I was tired every Saturday, but I was getting stronger, taking on more hills with confidence. I was getting to know the other riders and forming friendships with them. We went through many experiences together – chilly breezes on Winter mornings, blazing heat in mid-afternoons, seemingly impossible climbs up hills, as well as potholes, bumps, zooming cars, flat-tires, glass, wind, odd tan lines, spontaneous rain, achy muscles, funky post-ride hair-do’s, challenges with spandex, bug swarms, long restroom lines, angry storeowners, rude drivers, and overwhelmed eateries across the bay area. But through it all it warms my heart to know that my buddies are there too. That they are going through everything with me, and I with them. This is not something I have ever considered before, and through the camaraderie, I have since forgotten how much I initially feared this whole experience.

And now it is May, and I have since ridden Imageover 1,000 miles on my bicycle. The approximate distance between San Jose, CA and Vancouver, BC!

I ride because I have HIV and I want to make sure everyone who is living with HIV/AIDS can get the services they need. I was blessed with amazing services in my community and hope others get the services they need wherever they live. For me, this ride is about love and community, about sticking together when we can very easily find ourselves too busy, too scared to continue the struggle to fight HIV/AIDS. The disease is still with us, despite great medical advances, and it is up to us to show up and let people know that there are so many people out there who have been affected by this virus. Even if they themselves are not HIV positive, they know someone who is, and has died of HIV, or is a child, lover, friend, co-worked, relative, acquaintance, neighbor who is still struggling with HIV.

Lake Tahoe is a beautiful place, full of crystal blue waters, fertile land, crisp air and lovely vistas. But this weekend it was more. It was a place where I could let me soul find just a little bit of solace in the fact that the community I came here with was even more beautiful.

Thank you South Bay Blaze, Jamie Pereira and all our new friends for making this a weekend to remember!

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Negative Calories (aka Don’t drink the poison)

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Sometimes I can’t believe the shit people say… Sigh…

Is it right to be judgmental? Must everything be black or white? I like to think that there are many shades of gray. The critique I hear about musicians, actors, actresses, sports players, and even friends, and acquaintances can be so… well… mean. I get that we as humans like to make judgements. If we did not, we’d never sit on a chair, because we’d be forever considering and debating what a “chair” is, instead of saying “it has a flat surface, and four legs and a back support – it’s a chair – and then sit. Well, when it comes to others people, especially friends and acquaintances, I often feel pulled into opinions and critical judgments – as if I am supposed to not like certain people, to judge people harshly, to make them feel less than. As I grow and learn, I often see how hateful and mean people can be.

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“#*%$(@!?!” – some angry dude

Just this weekend I experienced the misplaced rage of a driver who shouted “get off the road you assholes” to me and my friends as we were out on a bike ride, and at a stoplight. I have recently read that Don Miguel Ruiz suggests not looking at the person doing the shouting, but instead at my reaction to the offense. Did we deserve to receive such hateful words? No. Were we being safe and respectful of others on the road? Yes. Did we do anything to warrant such anger from a stranger? Absolutely not. SO then why would I even be bothered by this? Human nature tells me that anyone in that situation would be bothered by being yelled at. Well, is that really true? Do all people feel such low self-esteem that a comment by some angry passerby really makes them re-evaluate their entire existence? I’d hate to think so. In fact, I bet a lot of people would tell me that they wouldn’t even be the least bit affected by that.

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Beware of the pizza dude (caveat emptor…)

Letting the anger and hate of others slide right off sounds easy enough, but what if you weren’t in a place to take that so easily? Should one blame themselves further for letting it happen? Well that certainly wouldn’t help matters.

So what is there to do? Avoid ever going outside? Stay away from any public setting for the rest of your life? Not an option. The answer again must come from within.

Don Miguel Ruiz speaks of a Magical Kitchen in which one has all they could ever eat – all the best food in the world. Someone shows up at your door one day, and offers you a pizza. There is a catch. If you take the pizza you have to obey that person. If you have all the food you could ever want, you wouldn’t think twice about giving up your freedom to a stranger with a pizza. You have what you need. You don’t feel any compulsion to give in.

Now imagine the same scenario without the advantage of having any food at all. You are starving, and the stranger offers you food. You take it. You need to. You are willing to do anything to get it. Even give up your freedom. You can’t help it. You are dependent on this handout.

Ok, so this is all metaphorical obviously. If you already have something in excess, you won’t be tempted to become dependent on it from another. Although in this example we use food. One could also apply the same logic to love. When I love myself in excess, the hateful words of another are meaningless to me. Not because I have a witty comeback, or because I am completely numb, but because I really have no place in my life for such negativity. It just doesn’t fit. It bounces off without effort.

That’s where I want to be. I want to exist in a place where the negativity of those around me doesn’t stick. I often hear half-compliments, things meant to be witty but are also seemingly hurtful. Maybe I am just way too sensitive. I see a lot of gay men do this to each other – talking about how they want to be accepted by society, while at the same time, they talk about each other like an enemy, like they hate them. They critique, judge, and make cutting remarks about looks, style, body, talents, social standing, class, and intelligence, to name a few. Sometimes I wonder why people who are still being treated like second-class citizens treat each other like they are less-than. I see racism and sexism too. Teasing people about the way they look or where they come from. It bothers me. Well, I must say that I choose to steer clear of it when I see it. It’s a deal-breaker for me. I guess it makes it hard to make friends sometimes. I feel like people like when other people feed into their hate and negativity. Since I try to avoid it, I often avoid the people who display these traits. Despite the challenges of finding good friends, who aren’t critical or judgmental, who aren’t racist or sexist, age-ist, or class-ist, there are good people out there. I value the friendships I have today for the fact that those in my life are positive influences. They are the best friends I could ever ask for, and I truly love them.

Society will never understand our love... :-)

Society will never understand our love… 🙂

P.S. – It is good to be happy.

Thanks for reading.

-Jon

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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