A question asked in the moment before a head-on collision, used to demonstrate the clarity of mind and purpose exhibited by men who have made their peace and live only to execute the plan.

Tyler Durden: Guys, what would you wish you’d done before you died?
Steph: Paint a self-portrait.
The Mechanic: Build a house.

-from the movie Fight Club.

I can relate. I woke up in a strange place Saturday morning. It was my own bed. Recognizing an opportunity to do other than serve humankind I put on my swimming trunks before I made coffee.

I drank it on the way to the Wakulla river. My friend, colleague, and house guest was with me and five minutes after slipping kayaks into the river he says, “Check it out Diggity, fat dolphins!”

He may or may not have said that, but he was right. The fat dolphins were out and playing. One, covered with scars, looked at with his woeful gaze and I thought, “Don’t give me that woeful gaze, you don’t know the kind of month I’m having.” A few lashes to swim in the river all day and eat? Doesn’t sound so bad to me.

When you have little or no time available, priorities become clear like spring water. It doesn’t have to be a pending car crash, it could be the price of keeping your word and earning a living that steals your time.

The next morning I did it again. I woke up and rode off to the park to ride bombing great singletrack with Mystery (that crazy un-tameable stallion). The Cadillac trail was a real pleasure- if pleasure was a lot like a kick in the ‘nads. All the same the bike felt great and I felt pretty good myself due to my extended wagon ride.

I seem to have a similar brief window this evening and look, I’m spending some it with you people. I have to shine my head and iron my guayaberas before I go to Miami tomorrow.

What would you wish you’d done before you died?


12 Responses to Compression

  1. I think what I really, really wanted to do my entire life, whether consciously or not, was to have a family that was truly real and loving and I think I have been blessed with that.
    So…beyond that?
    See a book I’ve written in print.
    And hold a grandchild. If one of my kids would like to give me one to hold….

  2. Go to Barcelona and live the romantic life of an expatriate english teacher!


  3. I’ve got a ticket for Spain next week… can you make it by then? I’ll show you how to change the diapers and where the chicken nuggets are before I go.

    Thanks! You’re the greatest Juancho!

    p.s. Now that Juancho is fulfilling his “before I die” dream of being a manny, the big ring circus may take on a slightly different tone…


  4. I would like to travel around Australia by bike. I read a book about a guy who quit his job and rode around the country. Did not have any fancy Pearl Izumi gear or anything like that. Just slept out it the wild. Sounds awesome!!

  5. I wish I had bought that Voodoo bike in 93 when I wandered into revolutions. I didn’t start riding till 2000.
    I still want to do the drive across country with no time table.

  6. I want to always be careful of what I wish for. I thought y’all might as well hear from a curmudgeon on this topic. ;}

  7. Juancho,

    I’m really enjoying reading your blog. Feeling bummed it’s been around so long and I’m just now catching up with it, but that leaves me lots of posts to enjoy, I guess.

    If Huck Finn is really one of your favorite books, my hat’s off to you indeed.

    I recently started a bike-related blog that also has a philosophical bent to it. I found yours when out looking for similar minds. If you’re interested, take a peek.

    Tailwinds to ya.

  8. Actually, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish so far. A tenured-prof teaching animation, travelling as much as I wanted mostly… two kids I actually love and GET to spend a whole lot of time with. A good wife I still love. Good Friends and MTB riding/racing…….
    I can die happy, and I’m only 37.

    Now, if you ask something like: What if you could design your life and world over again…that would be different.

    I can remember back when I was 10-11 years old, in N. Alabama, thinking about what my adult life would be like: An ex-wife or two and yard apes. A double-wide trailer, maybe. Owning a beat-up old pickup. A job at the local steel factory. Maybe an affair…

    In hindsight, that was my father’s life. Thankfully, his life took a nice upturn afterward, as did my expectations for what I could accomplish. Moving very far away from Anniston, Alabama showed me that a diverse/better world was really out there.