The 12 Defiant Celebrations


I was excited about finally crossing the New Mexico border for a couple reasons: First, I knew that it was a huge milestone, since I skated about 800 miles through Texas. Second, my sources told me that the roads in New Mexico are generally smoother and the wind is a little calmer than in Texas. The comment about the wind did not hold true on my third day in the new state.


Yesterday, I skated from Hatch, NM to just outside of Deming, NM. There were some pretty serious hills toward the beginning, as I increased my elevation by about 500 feet in the course of roughly 5 miles. That, however, was not the big challenge of the day. The wind was back in full force, and I essentially skated 39 miles head-on into 20 MPH winds. Anyone who has ridden a bike into heavy winds would have a pretty good idea about just how fun that was. Except carrying a 3’x5’ American flag is much like dragging a parachute through the wind.


As I was preparing to get back on the road after my first pit-stop, about 13 miles in, I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the next 25 miles of punishment. With wind like that, skating with that flag is comparable to running under normal conditions. I was essentially preparing myself for a marathon effort after having already skated 13 miles.


Just as I stepped out of the RV, I had an interesting thought: “What if, for each of the next 12 miles before my next pit-stop, I celebrate?” I decided that the natural tendency in physically difficult situations like this is to think about how negative and difficult the circumstances are. It was clear to me: I would have to create my own strength and happiness for the next 25 miles. I would start by defying all negative thoughts for the first 12.


For the next 12 miles, I would get myself as hyped and pumped as possible each time I crossed a mile marker. My plan was to get progressively more excited the higher the numbers got. It wasn’t easy, and I even thought about scrapping the idea a few times, but I kept it going. “I promised myself 12 celebrations, and I will have them!” I told myself with resolve.


There’s something remarkable about the human spirit: It is not so important how difficult or painful a given task may be. The real important factors are the motivation, the energy, and the “why” behind what we do. We can put up with almost any “how,” if given the right “why.” I needed immediate inspiration and strength to press on, and I found it by creating positive energy around what I was doing. In case you were wondering, the 12th celebration did in fact bring an incredible sense of accomplishment. I will never forget my “12 Celebrations” in defiance of the blasting winds on highway 26 between Hatch and Deming, NM. I’ve never felt so strong in the face of true difficulty.

The 411:


Distance Since last Update: 122 miles
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 2646 miles
SKATE LOCATION: 8 miles east of Deming, NM
STATUS: Enjoying a much needed day off in Deming, NM

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2 Responses to “The 12 Defiant Celebrations”

  • Now you know “why” Texans tend to stay in Texas.
    During WW II the father of a friend ferried planes for the Army Air Corps out of El Paso area. Flying back from Pyote or similar location in his small Piper Cub, he entered Guadalupe Pass (an area a bit north of your line of travel, especially after you went down to 90). The winds were strong, the engine small… he realized it after the 4th hour when he had not made any progress… in fact, at one point, he looked out and saw the sides of the pass moving slowly in the WRONG direction!
    Just remember, defiance is the better part of valor. Stay in touch and remember, good vibes have your back.
    Don

    • avatar Austin:

      “Defiance is the better part of valor.” I love that quote, Don! So much better than the standard recitation: “Discretion is the better part of valor.” You might be interested in this journal entry I made back before I even thought of this skate:

      Vision Is Defiance:

      Most of life is spent in a state of automation. We do what is expected of us, following the general course allowed us by the world. We accept the culture and society around us whether we believe we do or not. If we didn’t accept them, we would have the will to change them. Typically, the will is restrained and retrained to the common tendency of the mass of automated beings around us.

      On occasion, the beauty of birth, life, and creation visits the self-conscious universe that fears new ideas. It fears what is new because it fears that it too will have to change and grow. Existence itself is therefore the true combatant that faces the creator in this ring we call life. And so the creator is charged with a task of defiance. He who would create new life and new avenues must not just one, two, or even thirty times oppose that singular solidarity that blocks his every stab at greatness. No, the creator must tirelessly attack day and night for all of existence – which is only ever this moment. He must attack every tendency to hold back. He must punish every limb of his will that would bow before an imperfect standard, norm, or accepted value. He must attack at the very heart of “being” and thus make certain its progression into a state of “becoming.”

      And so is the task of defiance one of inward violence. Daily must the creator defy and overcome himself, and if he should stop, the music of his life will be slowly stifled by a most disagreeable drone. Such is the drone of commonality. The hustle, bustle, and clatter of all that is “ok” shall the dead creator become.

      You may, therefore, choose the path of the pacifier in your own course. So shall you bow to the whims of passionless power mongers and other drones. More disheartening though, you shall certainly bow to your own passive and non-growing tendency. You shall become discreet even in your own mind; for all change starts in the mind (whether in the mind of the breathing man or the breathing universe). So discreet shall you become that it shall be embarrassing even to whisper your name. And soon, it will provoke no emotion at all. Imagine: to be so ghost-like that you can’t even discern your own presence.

      Excuse, therefore, my grotesque imprudence and my unwillingness to assume any form for myself. No mold shall fit me, even if fashioned by my own hand. I assume, rather, a direction, and in that direction, I move forcefully. You can be certain of my force by the violence with which my pen shatters the mold you try to fit to me. In time, I shall train my voice even to shatter my pen.

      It is a new violence which I bring, for it seeks not so much destruction as creation. In the seared path I leave, you shall find the creation of my life. You shall find my art in the way that I live. Do not gape for too long, or you will lose me; my path is not well kept, because I do not return to it. To see me, to see into me, you must keep up by running your own path. If our paths should cross at one moment or another, so shall we greatly celebrate in those moments.

      Do you understand then? I bring you the tasks of defiance and violence, but this is an inward violence that serves as the fuel for creation. There are many created things along a never ending path, but the real creation is found in the character of the motion that forms the path. My character grows with my motion, but it is only understood in and from a state of full motion. I tell you, I am not a creator; I create.

      – Austin Szelkowski
      January 25th, 2010

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