The long winter doldrums have been getting to me lately.  We’re on the cusp of Spring and I know they will pass soon but the cold and damp and wind are having their way with the psyche of this bike rider.  My job is to sell bicycles to bike shops.  Doing that in this part of the country isn’t the easiest thing in the winter and especially after the local economy is still struggling after what the news calls “Super Storm Sandy” devastated both personal lives and businesses. My house needs work and my kids cost a ton of money that I don’t have.  Not much different than the problems most people endure.  My refuge has always been the bike.  Getting out for a few hours and doing what I enjoy to escape the pressures and worries.  Doesn’t matter if it’s tricks in a parking lot, the trails in the woods or a visit to a skatepark, my mind finds an escape.  I just haven’t been able to find enough time or opportunity to get out.  This leaves a lot of time for reflection.  Reflection while being in a blue mood is rarely a good thing.  It leads to depression.  I look at my 45 year old divorced ass in a little house and even littler bank account and it gets overwhelming.

Luckily, I have a great friend who has been there to listen to me when I need a talk, distract me when I am thinking too much and offer support.  Most people offer support in the form of suggestions.  That’s not what is needed.  When someone comes to you with their problems, offer support and comfort.  If they ask what they should do, only then is it appropriate to make suggestions.  Through this supportive friend I am getting some thoughts together and feeling more positive about the future.

We are a sum of our experiences.  Growing up I was part of a group of BMX riders that made a difference in the sport.  A couple of the guys are considered to be two of the best in the world.  One of them pretty much invented the BMX video industry.  Another is a writer and has made a life based on a little BMX ‘zine he started in high school.  Now I was never the great rider, writer or video producer that came out of the group.  I was just the average rider and I still am.  I didn’t have the success on or off the bike my peers did.  This Winter I have been thinking about that.  Why didn’t I do more?  Why haven’t I made a better life for myself?

A big chunk of it is that I had a life outside BMX my buddies didn’t.  I went to college and got a degree, I had a girlfriend who became a wife, I had kids, I worked when they didn’t.  While I was doing that, I kept riding as much as I could.  I couldn’t dedicate myself 100% to my BMX life because I had a life outside BMX.  I couldn’t dedicate myself to my other life because I had BMX.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret it at all but I’m realizing that I half assed it.  The average person would think I’m crazy for saying that but I have been witness to people who really dedicated themselves to a solitary pursuit and seen what it takes.  I understand what Michael Jordan did to become Michael Jordan.  Did I put in that much effort?  Hell no.  To be that successful, you can’t do it all.  Something has to give.  Only now I am realizing that was my downfall.  My friends who are successful were focused.  They chose one thing and did it.  Did it a lot.  True, they have lives outside this one thing but they took a back seat and were often sacrificed in ways that I wasn’t willing to do.

My supportive friend has pointed out that I have dedicated my life to BMX and bikes as a whole.  I have worn so many hats and helped so many people.  I’ve made a difference.  My tragic flaw is that I have often done these things for everybody but me.  I thought up tricks that I couldn’t do so I told my friends and they did them.  I designed bikes and technologies that I couldn’t make but someone else did and got the credit and money.  I guided friends through sponsorship opportunities that I never got so they could surpass me.  I promoted products that weren’t mine.  I shot photos and wrote articles for other’s publications and websites.  I’ve ridden in hundreds of shows where someone made more money off my countless hours riding than I did.   I have driven more friends than they have driven me.  I have given away more bikes and parts to keep people riding than have ever been given to me.  Looking back at all this I think that the biggest return is I will get a nice eulogy when I die but for now that doesn’t help my present situation.

I’m not looking for a million dollars or accolades that I earned and others received.  All those things are in the past and I’m pretty much OK with it.  I’m not sour about what some people would call exploiting myself.  I have come to realize is that I have a lot to offer and I need to offer it to myself.  Now I just need to come up with a plan to do just that.  I want to be consumed with a project that makes me jump out of bed in the morning and pass out exhausted every night.  For now I am just going to do my best at every task at hand whether it’s my job, my kids, my riding, my home.

When I think about it, the people I respect have made a career out of their passion.  They did something because they loved it and figured out a way to make a living.  Some are financially secure, even rich, but most aren’t.  At the end of the day they are happy with what they are doing and the life they designed for themselves.  That’s where I plan to be soon.  Exactly what my future holds I can’t tell you – yet.  I do know that I am worth more than I have to show.  Time to take advantage of my skills, knowledge and experience and do something awesome.  Something I’m proud of.  Next time I open the door of opportunity I’m not going to be holding it for someone else to walk through, I’m going to use it myself.

By brettdownsconspiracy