How do you ride a bicycle?

A Cycling Big Year would differ from a Jogging Big Year. I’ve been running for over three decades, on a bike I’m only slightly more competent than a ten-year-old with training wheels. Oh, I exaggerate slightly but in truth when I took the Specialized Sirrus out for a whirl, twice recently, I felt just like a kid. Turning a routine corner, I crashed into a pole (luckily at near zero speed).

But such a sense of freedom! Practice session #1: 13kms. Practice session #2: 24 kms. Both of them slow but who cares?

(Notice the complete lack of proper gear.)


Single versus album?

The role of songs versus albums . . . esoterica for most, but I’ve always eschewed the “hit single” in favour of the more meaty album. Pondering the role of music in my life, pondering a Music Big Year of some sort, the “30 Days, 30 Songs” notion resurrects that debate. (By the way, I’m not criticising this playlist per se – the first two artists, Death Cab for Cutie and Aimee Mann, are among my favourites.)

Big Year as psychological safety cocoon?

Check out “Productivity and the power of trust.” A short interview clip but coming from Charles Duhigg, whose new, wise book I’ve just worked through, and from Susan Cain, hero to us geeks, I read it carefully. It’s true, psychological safety is, for some of us questing souls, hard to obtain. I like to think my Big Years, within a wondrous family and life, offer me a refuge, at least a little.

Jogging Big Year: Keeping the flame alive

Unexpectedly, a wonderful two months of hiking was affected by the Jogging Big Year. I’m investing much emotional energy into that year, so distancing myself from it for so long – two months! – worried me. Luckily, part of the running commitment, one I rarely allude to – is that I’ve committed to stretching (a long-established routine of one hour) – each and every day of 2016. By hook or by crook, no matter what country I was in, I managed to fulfill that resolve. Peace arrived, like a dose of Zen.

Writing Big Years: Does apocalyptic brooding strike you?

Twice recently, in rambunctious social gatherings, dread has seized me, completely unbidden. I recall one specific thought: Armageddon is nigh. A dead weight settled over my chest.

Both times the sensation departed as quickly as it arose, but I’ve kept thinking about the topic. Like melancholy, dread is a therapeutic notion in small doses, an emotion preventing complacency.

My Dark Novel Big Year – a novel so dark my family should reject it – might slot into 2021, so it’s distant. But the book’s idea is a first page I drafted years ago, and it’s somehow always close to my heart. I felt it again this week. Welcome, blackness.

Birding Big Year?

In the September issue of the Australian Birdlife magazine, Jonathan Franzen, my hero in more than one regard, was asked in interview (in Papua New Guinea of all places) about “the appeal of traveling the world birding.” I swooned over his response, here’s one angle:

And also it gets you to places that would otherwise not get to go. I spent the first half of my life going to churches and museums in Europe. Now I arrive in Italy and my first question is, “How do you get to the nearest sewage treatment plant?”

Oh, for a Birding Big Year!

A word bag?

Laraine Herring in her On Being Stuck: Tapping into the Creative Power of Writer’s Block:

Begin keeping a word bag. . . . These bags can contain any word you gather throughout your day: single words, phrases, sounds, textures, smells, tastes, experiences. You can keep them on your smartphone, record them in an old-fashioned notebook, or even write them on slips of paper and place them in an actual bag. You don’t have to know why you’re selecting the words. You don’t have to know where or if they’ll fit. You are just creating a nonlinear word record of your day.