I came across the term “Character Pathology” at work yesterday, and I stumbled over it. I couldn’t quite get a handle on the concept. It has something to do with a psychological disorder related to multiple personalities, or so I deduced.

I called for back-up and reached out to a bona-fide professional and he explained it to me this way.

“The brain does well what the brain does often.”

As in, if you are attacked by murders of crows every day of your life your brain is excellent at swishing your arms around your head and screaming. This is not a problem and a perfectly healthy way to respond to bird attacks, and not just crows. It becomes a problem when the crows go away and get replaced by other things, like having to be at work on time, or improving your lap time at Munson Hills, or responding to stressful situations. Your many years of arm-flapping screaming become hard to undo.

I am talking about habits I think.

We all know it is hard to get up and exercise, it is hard to learn new things, it is hard to quit smoking, it is hard to change your life in any measurable way because we are all suffering by degrees a level of character pathology, or more simply, inability to adapt or initiate new behaviors.

Stuck in a rut. Give someone a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Like this…

“Would you like a glass of water?”

Response: (Waves arms about head and screams a lot.)

“Does that mean no?”

“I’m sorry, I spent a significant portion of my life being attacked by crows, I would love a glass of water.”

If any real psychotherapist would care to weigh in and save me now would be a good time, but what I am really getting at is that in order to change something significantly, like a lap time at Munson, you have to lean in towards the adversity and change the way you think, which changes the way you act.

You can’t just buy a new bike.


13 Responses to Repetition

  1. As for changes in your riding styles, try mixing up your ride partners. I ride with my primary crew, 99% of the time, as I’m sure most folks ride with their usual crews. BUT, I’m always amazed at what I learn, when riding with a different wheel in front of me.

    Perhaps we should mix our respective crews again, and soon, I hope.

    Or maybe, just maybe, I just want to watch you flap about while screaming at imaginary crows.

  2. I’m a psychotherapist (whether I’m a “real” one I’ll leave to my clients)and I think you’re doing pretty well with the question on your own.

    I know; therapists always say those kinds of things. But I really mean it.

    The other option — the one you didn’t mention, the one I’m trying to embrace — is accepting middle age.

  3. It doesn’t matter if you accept middle age or not because when you hit 70, you will go to great lengths, and perhaps accumulate more fractured bones, trying to not accept old age. As for habits, I will also kick in my two cents on that: if you want to change something, don’t try to quit an old habit, but instead, but just do something new. There are just so many hours in the day.

  4. P.S. I think by that I mean carry a shotgun, and you will cease waving your arms over your head beating off the murder of crows. (God, I love to write that…murder of crows, murder of crows…)

  5. Listen to your Mom. She is right. It is impossible to stop behaving in a manner that has become a habit until you identify and value that which will it will be replaced. You have to want the new being with enough passion to offset the friction of change. This is true whether it is overcoming cancer or improving you time around Munson. To continue to do the same is to get the same. Remember, in the words of Yoda, “There is no try, only do.”

  6. I am the real psychotherapist for whom you have been waiting, and I say: eff accepting middle age. Rage, rage against the crows. Bare your teeth and, yes, lean in towards their talons in order to lessen the impact. It’s the old karate trick.

    When people wonder why I am slower than they, I tell them it’s because I spent most of the ride in the air- catching fat airs- and your wheels decelerate some.

    New bike not cutting it? As a bike shop employee, I am obligated to mention that a new wheel-set is just what you need. How old is your helmet?

  7. And you’re right. I need to get a new helmet. I’ve knocked myself out with the current one. I think that might mean it’s not working.

  8. Thank God my spiritual advisors showed up. My new bike is a thing of beauty, a true piece of carbon fiber art. It just needs miles. I like that answer though, about the air time. I’ll be using that.

    I sure do wish I could ride with all y’all. Velo, Rev, Lopo, the whole big top.

  9. I am a real physco and I learned to love the crows once I realized no one could see them but me. Now I fight them with my imaginary hands instead of my real ones. It’s much more fun, you can do it while waiting in line (or on road rides) and you never get tired.