I’m Graham. I am 24 years old and from the SW corner of Colorado. Here’s a little bit more about me.
What do I like?
I realize I like a lot of things but the things I love the most are:
- Bikes–everything about them and what they do for people
- Coffee–the culture, the smell, the excuse to take a break sometimes
- Pie–because pie fixes everything
- Hummingbirds–exciting and relatively innocent creatures
- The Cat Empire–and other music, of course
What I value in life (a limited and opinion based list)
- Happy people are not complacent. They are rarely alone. They trust in their ability to balance desires and current standings. They don’t complain. They work hard at whatever they are doing….even if that’s not doing much. And they compete only with themselves. This, of course, is under the assumption that happiness is the ultimate goal, which it might be for some people but not for all—maybe, but I’m not sure about this.
- Wellness is important. It’s not a goal but rather a trust that our bodies, minds, and souls will take care of themselves if listened to and given space to change. Routines and practices help with this but too much routine can limit spontaneous growth.
- We are naturally adaptable to the situations we find ourselves in. Changing things up is usually a good thing. However, if change happens too much and too rapidly, it is hard to make connections, become masters of a craft, or feel grounded in the communities of others around us.
- Things that drag people down are generalizations, dogmas, pride, and distrust. Individuals tend to be the cruelest and inconsiderate when they are protected–when in cars or behind the internet.
- Thinking is good—within limits. Thinking too much about decisions, the shoulds/coulds/woulds brings us down. This is why we should elevate emotional thinking more than most of us do. I’m working on this one.
- We can’t control what other people do and we can’t really control what we do either–at least in the moment. We can, however, build our filters so we can better react and interact with the world around us. This takes time and intentionality, or course.
What has been my path?
I grew up in Mancos, Colorado which is situated below Mesa Verde National Park, just west of Durango. I attended school in Cortez, which is about 20 miles west of Mancos forcing my school and home lives to be separate–something I’ve grown to be thankful for. Public schooling in a rural area taught me to be interested in varying lifestyles, political standings, and backgrounds. The standards were set pretty low so ‘success’ was easy to achieve if I just showed up.
I was taught in the Montessori style, explaining some of my personality tendencies and world outlooks to this day. Middle School sucked and was uneventful as it is for most kids. In High School, I played the saxophone, swam (kind of), found my way into a bit of trouble, and eventually found that I loved riding bikes. I met and fell in love with a foreign exchange student, who I was determined to spend the rest of my life with. Reality is hard and the Atlantic Ocean is big. It took me a solid two years to be convinced that my constructed reality was never a possibility–or maybe I forgot.
While growing up in a little, slow corner of the world, I was consistently told to leave the area after graduating high school if I wanted to have a successful life–that there were greater opportunities elsewhere. I took this advice to heart and it has been driving my decisions since…..That there is a best-fit life somewhere out there and I needed to create my own home if I was to be satisfied with myself. I’m still working on breaking down this mode of thinking.
At the time and with the desire of something new, I started attending college at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. As a freshman, I was depressed and socially insecure because, until then, I’d had little social training. Sure I had some really really good friends which I still hold close to my heart, but I found I was horrid at advocating for myself in new social settings. It was during this time that I was extremely fortunate to find Brandon, my closest friend for the next years who helped me re-orient in this new environment. We bonded over cycling and personal wellness while rowing crew together in the damp and cold of the PNW mornings.
Helped along by Brandon, I made it to Sophomore year and moved into a house with a handful of people who I didn’t really know. As it turned out, we lived together for the remaining three years of college in the Forkmansion, my new home. I even have a commemorative fork tattooed on my forearm
Things quickly turned around for me when I found the bike again and racing mountain bikes became my (re)found favorite pastime. I was riding road bikes to stay fit and getting muddy on the weekends. A year later I became intrigued in Cyclocross racing after watching Brandon partake in a few races. I fell in love with the sport and the remaining two years of college were consumed with school, racing, partying, working as a barista on campus, fixing bikes for my peers, and leading trips through the outdoor program at the school. I worked hard, played hard, and felt on top of the world.
I graduated as a very different person with a degree in Exercise Science. Graduation can feel like a cliff. The silver platter of a social network is thrown away, decisions get heavier and harder, and ‘reality’ hits quickly. Fortunately, I was in an amazing relationship which was much more important than any other scary real life decisions knocking at the door. So I stayed in Tacoma and starting working for the University. I moved into a different house with some other recent graduates and got ready to start a 40h work week.
The transition was rougher than I anticipated–same location, same person, just different expectations. As I got further distanced from the student social scene at the school, my job became easier and life quality improved. With some semblance of a balance restored, life was steady and good. The plan was to wait for my girlfriend to graduate and then we’d move on to other things…maybe some travel, maybe some foreign work. Some plans don’t work out.
The break in this plan has been the largest, most confusing, confidence breaking, and decisive life experience for me thus far. Forced change sucks but, in this case, it has led me to refocus, take some time to think, and generally become ok with the fact that I will always be in a state of transition.
I finished my second year of employment at the University and then left Tacoma. At the time of writing this, it has been a little over three months since I left and I miss that city more than ever–the people, the way of living, the rain, the beer, the bike racing, the food, the long summer days, the produce, and my home. I hope to make it back to Tacoma as soon as I can.
I moved back in with my parents in Mancos and started working at Kokopelli’s, the best bike shop in the world.
Soon I will be riding my bike, thinking a lot, hopefully writing more, taking pictures, and heading south toward Mexico.