I usually try to stay upbeat on my blog and put on a happy face no matter how low I may be feeling. But tonight I have to admit defeat. If you've ever been to the animal shelter, you've seen the dog. You know, the one who will unfortunately never get adopted. Not because it's aggressive or sick or anything like that. But because it has poor social skills. It isn't "mean", nor does it dislike other animals. In fact, it usually likes other dogs. Very much. But for whatever reason, it simply doesn't understand how to communicate with other dogs and tends to be inappropriate and never quite sure just how to "fit in". So it spends its life surrounded by its peers but still alone, lonely, isolated, rejected without truly understanding why. It apparently hasn't learned the rules of polite society and how to say what it doesn't mean and mean what it doesn't say, and certainly not how to keep its feelings and opinions to itself. And it gets misinterpreted, misunderstood, ignored at best and outcast at worst. Eventually it learns the best way to avoid the pain of potentially awkward social situations is to avoid them all together when at all possible.
I used to love mountain biking. In fact, it pretty much defined me and was my life. I still enjoy it, but after this weekend, the fire has suddenly and significantly faded. I fear I have become that dog, and am insecure and frightened at the prospect of social interactions, especially new ones. At this point, I can only cling desperately to Jacquie Phelan's kind words to me many years ago: “I hope nothing quashes your love of riding, pure and simple...Be aware of that glowing ember, let it
glow.” But I fear the only way to possibly do that now is to go back to the isolated, lonely world of biking by myself alone, where I won't run the risk of negative social experiences which send me, tail tucked and whimpering, back to the far corners of the shelter in my mind.