Thursday, July 26, 2012

Social ride

 On Wednesday morning, my friend Jan invited me out for a "social ride." Knowing Jan, it seemed likely this nice, easy ride would include at least 5,000 feet of climbing, so I showed up prepared with a few energy bars. We set out from Woodside to ride new-to-me trails in Purisima Creek Redwoods. I love the simple surprises afforded by exploring new places. Even though I've lived in the Bay area for more than a year, there are still large tracts of open space within a twenty-mile radius that I have yet to see. Each new discovery continues to surprise me, both in the reminder that I'm far behind the curve in my hometown explorations, and the fact that there is so much scenic park land within spitting distance of a population center of seven million people.

 Jan is currently searching for a new job in the biotechnology sector, which has been a source of both frustration (that he seems to vent by going for awesomely tough bike rides) and inspiration. As we discussed some of his intriguing ideas for start-ups, I realized that Jan was among my growing list of biking and running friends who work in compelling and complicated professions — I would categorize their work as "stuff I'd really need to read several books about first before I feel comfortable asking questions." There's Daniel in Frisco, whose start-up company aims to draw patterns from the wild chaos of human behavior through tracking technology. And of course I have Beat, the theoretical physicist who just spent the evening soldering tiny parts on a circuit board for the electronics of a prototype device for his friend's start-up company. These days I seem to frequently meet brilliant people, and the reason I'm even on the periphery of their world is because I like to ride and run long distances.

I have been mulling my own career path recently and wondering if I'm on the right track. I have no doubt in my mind that I want to be a journalist, which is another way of saying I want to observe life and tell stories. If Jan ever does discover a hormone that he can turn into an anti-obesity miracle drug, I'd honestly rather write his biography than serve a research role and rake in a piece of the billions (okay, maybe that's not true about the billions.) But the point is, I am secure in what I want to be. I'm just not sure whether I'm on the right path to make it happen — not only from a financially viable standpoint, but also in regard to my ongoing struggles to be the prolific producer I know I can be. Do I ride and run too much? Do I spend too much creative and intellectual capital on my adventure scheming and this blog? Am I more afraid of failure, or possibly success?

I admit spending time with my brilliant friends sometimes leads to me feeling some professional guilt. The fact they create what they do while avidly pursuing their outdoor passions means I should be able to do the same. But right now I'm still in my "deciding" phase. I guess this blog post is really just another part in my recent "Why is Jill feeling so insecure this month?" series. It feels good to air them out.

But Jan and I had a great ride today. We wended through the redwood forest and a tight ribbon of singletrack and emerged on a grassy hillside, dropped to the coast on a farm road and then climbed again. There were more downs and ups, 37 miles and 6,200 feet of climbing. Just an easy social ride.