You know what's almost gone? August! And it's taking summer with it!
A few months ago there was something new you were thinking about trying this summer. Stand up paddle boarding perhaps? Chess? That green stuff in jars that yoga people seem to enjoy drinking or eating or whatever they do with it?
Well, it's now late August. Did you do take on something new? Summer isn't over, friend, but you can see the end of it from here. You better get cracking.
For what it's worth, I'd suggest something that's completely new and an entirely different than anything you've tried before. Sure, trying tenor saxophone when you already play alto saxophone puts you ahead on the learning curve. But do you really need two goddamn saxophones? When you could have a saxophone and a unicycle instead?
Of course, this isn't about "having." It's about "doing." And for me at least, doing something completely new puts me onto the fastest funnest part of the learning curve.
The part where every single thing you do is learning something new.
The part where you have zero ego attached to the activity.
The part where you can revel in your ineptitude and be a child again.
Last summer, when I was learning to play the ukulele, I came across this Ted Talk video. It's about how to learn anything in 20 hours. The rumored 10,000 hours it takes to be an expert at something? You probably don't have that kind of time this weekend. But 20 hours? You could get a good jump on that.
Hm. Here I've been messing around with all this Bring Limes gibberish when I could have just played this Alan Watts video and called it a day!
"We missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing, or to dance, while the music was being played."
Over the years I've done just about every goofy thing you can do on an island. Some may have been illegal. Others just ill-advised. I've also done a few things that I regret. But the one thing I've never done on an island? I've never lived on one.
Some (slash many slash most) would say living on an island is a cliche. But in the words of Prime Minister Pete Nice, of seminal '90s hip hop trio 3rd Bass: "I beg to diffa." The real cliche isn't living on an island. The real cliche is thinking about living on an island while you're driving your pale ass through another Lansing or Lincoln or Lafayette winter with one of those grinning Life Is Good hammock dudes on your ice-encrusted Jeep Wrangler spare tire cover.
But we've probably all thought about living on an island. And I suspect with this year's election cycle, some of us are thinking about it more than usual. This inkling usually leads to researching what different islands might be like. Which inevitably leads to watching those horrible island real estate reality shows on tv. A guilty pleasure? From my perspective I'd say no because "guilty pleasure" implies that there's some sort of pleasure involved. For me anyway, "guilty anguish" would be more accurate. Although some of my distress is rooted in "oh man that looks nice," most of it comes from a much darker place.
For starters, the Americanization of faraway places drives me crazy. And yet that seems to be the measuring stick for every home buyer on these shows. Is the location convenient to beaches, mountains, rainforests, yoga studios and Whole Foods? I love the house but can we "open up" the kitchen? Is there a photogenic palm tree nearby that will help me boost my Instagram following? You know what though? In this regard, reality shows are pretty accurately capturing the reality of many Americans abroad. So I'll let it go.
Beyond that though, there ain't much reality in those real estate shows. I've been to more than a few of the islands they've featured and they were damn near unrecognizable. Although the production crew must be going to these different places to shoot footage, by the time they cut it together and lay in that same damn steel drum song, they all seem exactly alike: wide beach shot, our home-buying couple trying out standup paddle boards (or kayaks when clumsy), some local flavor via woman selling sarongs, cocktails with comically oversized hunks of pineapple jammed in 'em, a walk along the beach, awkward backlit kiss, steel drum crescendo, cut to commercial.
I'd say the travel magazines give a better sense of a place than the tv shows. But they're travel magazines, not "live there" magazines. So you're going to get plenty of "While on St. Whatever, be sure to visit Quaint But Clean Beach Bar and ask Bar Owner for their special Rum Drink With Fruit Juice!" News you can use if you're just visiting. But not much help if you're really trying to get a handle on a place.
Of course ultimately, and obviously, you're going to need to put sandals in the sand to really understand an island and the people who live there. But since you can't visit them all, it takes some narrowing down.
Google is fine for the officially sanctioned tourism stuff, and a click on Image results gives you a quick sense of an island's purtiest places and/or most convenient scenic overviews. But to start digging in properly, I'd suggest a Wikipedia search. It's the perfect dashboard for the factual underpinnings of a place.
If everything checks on the Wiki page, then I do a blog search. If there's one thing ex-pats love more than being ex-pats, it's blogging about being ex-pats. Every island I've ever looked into has at least a few people living on it who are blogging their every move. Throw in an additional mix of transient yachties, backpackers, and "digital nomads" (maniacal bloggers all!) and you'll have more first-hand information on a place than you'll know what to do with.
I can also recommend this: My favorite "one-stop-shop" site for island investigation is Women Who Live On Rocks. It's run by Chrissann Nickel, a Californian who's been living the island life since 2006. While she writes a lot of posts (really well), the beauty of the site is that it also features living-on-rocks wisdom from women all over the world. And they're organized by island (click HERE, then go to "Meet The Women" in the upper menu, then scroll down.)
Given the name of the site, you'll gather it's got a female perspective. Which means, yeah, I'm the pervy dude in the corner eavesdropping on girls' night. But the posts are consistently real, occasionally raw, and always well written. It's the best perspective I've found yet on what it's really like to live on a particular island. The ups, the downs, and the in-betweens.
Once you've got your prospective islands narrowed down, of course, the final step (and the finest step!) is to start investigating your short list in person. I've been fortunate to visit quite a few islands over the years. As ongoing research projects go, it doesn't get much better: a mix of cultural investigation, historical education, spiritual adventure, and high grade rum.
I still have no idea whether I'll ever actually pull the trigger and make a move (if I'm being completely honest with myself). But I know I won't stop looking either way.
Cue steel drums. Dramatic sunset. Awkward backlit kiss. Cut to commercial.
Oh I like this woman.
It's not because Dilys Price has been around for 82 years. In and of itself, that doesn't mean much to me. By this point in life, I've come to find that our allotted time on earth is largely luck of the draw. Someone reading this will see 100 years. Someone else won't see Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
Sure, our habits related to diet, exercise, and high-grade gin might throw a few extra tickets into one bucket or the other. But in the end this is still a random drawing. I've been surprised too many times to think otherwise.
So. The fact that Dilys is 82 years old is neither here nor there. The fact that she's the world's oldest woman skydiver? Okay that's pretty cool. But what really gets me is this: listen to the dance in her voice. Watch her eyes. She exudes excitement about doing what she loves, naysayers be damned. She's good energy at 82 years old and, I bet, she's always been.
Lots of people aspire to be cool old people (myself included). Thinking a switch will flip when we hit 65 or 75 or 85 and viola! We're lovers of life! Suddenly we're parasailing and starring in viral videos where we're dancing to hip hop at wedding receptions.
But it's not like that. There's no switch. Loving life doesn't get easier as we age.
The best way to be a cool old person? Be a cool middle-age person first. And a cool young person before that. Find what you love and do it. Regardless of age. Naysayers be damned.
Along the same lines, you might also enjoy meeting Snowflake: Love Something So Much You Forget To Go To The Toilet
On a truly crappo day in early February, I put together the details for a dive trip. Scheduled for late June. I blathered on about it at the time, naturally, as I do. But now it's June. Now we're packed. Now we're almost on our way.
The timing isn't the best, as it turns out, with lots of work related whatnot afoot. If I hadn't already planned it then, we wouldn't be going now. But it was planned then. And as such, we're going now.
The packing is complete (see photo, it didn't take long), Heading to St. John Sunday morning. In the meantime, I'm thinking I might start planning for something 144 days for now.
The surf is up in Missoula, Montana. All it took was someone to notice.
There are equivalents everywhere; rideable waves, catchable winds, climbable trees.
All it takes is for us to notice.
I would argue, vehemently, that Rodney Mullen had a greater impact on his sport than any other athlete has had on any other sport.
Rodney Mullen invented street skateboarding. He was figuring things out in the early '80s that are the foundation of everything that's come since. Seeing him skate in five different decades (!) has been a beautiful thing.
But man there's so much more to him. He does a lot of speaking these days. Ted talks and so on. The thoughtfulness and perspective and connections he makes, between skating and life, is really inspiring to me.
The super short episode of the Bulletproof Thoughts series below features some of his thinking around the fear of falling and the importance of getting back up. If that strikes your fancy, I'd definitely suggest this longer interview. He's my kind of people.
"A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."
Well, ships aren't built for this sort of thing either. But it's still better than the harbor.
I came across the work of Theo Jansen the way I come across most things. Randomly. But I'm so happy I did.
Theo Jansen makes animals. Colossal beach creatures powered by wind and imagination and some of the most captivating engineering I've ever seen. Watch the first video below to see his creations in action and get a sense of what he does.
Then, watch the second video to see how he does it, and more important, why. He shares some really interesting perspectives on life, art, evolution, and immortality. The things his animals have taught him.
I've always been fascinated by obsessives. Those blessed and/or cursed with the ability to focus on something, on one thing, for years or decades or a lifetime. Sometimes you look at the outcome of all that effort and you say "hm, well, to each his own."
Other times, you look at the outcome and you can't hardly say anything at all.
I spent last week on Sanibel Island in Florida.
Although it was a full-on family vacation of the time-share variety, and Sanibel isn't necessarily the islandiest of islands, the rum mixed well with the ocean air and the wind laid down enough for a few fantastic trips onto the gulf for some fishing and diving.
Finally! Fresh fodder for Bring Limes!
You know how in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, they're able to travel into the future and see their totally awesome future selves?
I feel like that might be what's happening for me here.
Spring break is nigh(ish). It's almost time to hit the road.
If you prefer the overnight driving shift, like I do, the secret is the right playlist. One song to be sure to include is Windfall. It's the first track on Son Volt's 1995 album, Trace, and it's one of my all-time favorites.
A little bit of history in case you're not familiar with Son Volt...
Back in the late 80s and early 90s there was a mighty and fearsome band called Uncle Tupelo. They ruled from Belleville, Illinois and held dominion over all the alt country land. The band was led by the mostly brooding Jay Farrar and perkier (by comparison) Jeff Tweedy. Jay and Jeff were two extremely talented songwriters who eventually ended up hating each other's guts. This seems to be what extremely talented songwriters do. So Jay quit the band, took the drummer, and formed Son Volt. Tweedy took the rest of the band and formed Wilco.
Back to Windfall. There are a number of road and river related songs on Trace (Tear Stained Eye is another one that's highly recommended.) But Windfall, in particular, has always killed me. I honestly believe it captures the experience of the open road better than any song I've ever heard.
I sang it to my son every night for the first three or four years of his life. On his fifth birthday I woke up, my truck was gone, and I haven't seen him since.
I included the lyrics below.
What a great line that is: "Dreams are needs." It's the culmination of this video by Duct Tape Then Beer. As you may have noticed by now, I'm a huge sucker for "reminder videos." The ones that remind me to get out there and be the person I aspire to be.
It's officially March. In 11 days, the clocks change. Now is the time for the planning of trips and the prepping of gear. Now is the time to get excited.
Start with this video right here. And if you're so inclined, I included links to a few more below.
I recently began practicing yoga.
I shit you not.
I've had several non-yoga types (aka my people) rave to me lately about yoga. About how I should try it. About how it stretches stuff you didn't know needed stretching. Fortuitous timing, I'll admit, since I've had this vague sense for a while now that some of my stuff could use a stretch.
For starters, there's a tightness in my hamstrings that's getting harder to ignore. A lack of snow this year put the brakes on snowboarding, which I deftly replaced with a winter’s worth of ale and atrophy. The ramifications of this decision are now conspiring against me.
But there's also this: I've noticed a tightness in my heartstrings too... a spiritual contraction... other soul-related metaphors. It's nothing catastrophic. Hell, it's not even mildly dramatic. It's just an odd little mood that's been catching me on occasion. I'm sure there's a clinical term for it. Maybe "Late Winter in the Midwest."
Anyway, this is how I came to find myself lying on a rubber mat in a darkened room at 6 a.m. On my left, a tiny woman doing elegant upside-down yoga things with smooth arms and strong legs and healthy heart. And on my right, a younger guy with a thick beard who was easily three times her size. He was sweaty and wobbly and, I don't know, approximate in his moves. Smack in between 'em was me. Sweaty and wobbly and approximate too, with just an extra yoga class or two under my belt.
I don't know either one of them. In fact, I don't know anyone in the entire room. The only words I've spoken in my five or six yoga classes so far are my name when I sign in, and "thank you" when I'm done. Instead of making small talk, I prefer focusing 100% of my energy toward my yoga mantra: "Don't tip over... don't tip over... don't tip over..."
The silence suits me. As does the solitude. I've always gravitated toward solo pursuits: silent sports, corner stools, writing (the introvert's ultimate escape). Clearly I'm not what they call "a team player." To me there's just always been something wonderful about private victories. And something forgiving about private failures, if I'm being honest.
So it could be very weird for me to be in a room full of people, sticking my ass in the air. Especially since almost everyone one in the room is better at sticking their ass in the air than I am.
But it's not weird. It's not weird at all. In fact, I'm thankful that they're with me. And I'm thankful that I'm with them.
Yes, I'm as rickety as can be. And I'm probably the only one who thinks it's fun to imagine he's longboarding during the Warrior 2 pose. But I feel like I belong there. Quietly attempting something gangly and new. Stretching things I didn't know needed to be stretched. Surrounded by others who, at some point in their lives, decided to do the same.
The song "You'll Never Surf Again" always killed me. It's from Dan Reeder's 2006 album Sweetheart. Well, I just now stumbled across this animation by Paul Ferraris which only adds to the poignancy.
You know there's doctors conspiring against us right now. Plotting and planning all the stuff they're going to one day tell us we'll never do again.
That day isn't today.
It's that time of year.
It's that thinkin' about St. Somewhere time. That wanting-some-white-beaches-and-blue-water-and-yellow-birds-all-around-me-time. (I'm referring to the yellow bird cocktail here. But actual yellow birds are encouraged to join me.)
Well, the short video below isn't about any of that. While the water is blue, it's more of a gun metal blue. This is a cold place. There's shivering. And yet. I'm left longing for this water as if it was the sea-foamiest of seas.
Filmmaker (and swimmer) Natasha Brooks has me seriously jonesing for a dip of the skinny variety. A cold naked swim, sleek and slippery. Of course, where I'm from, most of our swims are on the chilly side. Get to the shoulder seasons here and it's cold enough to pretty much guarantee you'll have the water to yourself. I like that.
As Natasha says in the video: "The sensation of that cold, on every part of your body, eclipses all thoughts. You leave everything behind, and it offers you the space to truly appreciate the moment."
That's absolutely true. And this is absolutely beautiful. Watch.
Not that noodle you big silly...
I'm talking about using your brain. Your sense of imagination. Your sense of playfulness and resourcefulness and fun.
That's what Londoner Rich McCor does on Instagram. Smile-for-smile his account might be my favorite right now. It's the perfect testament to what skewing your perspective can do for you (also helpful: crazy scissor skills).
He and his work (his play?) are no secret since he's been featured on CNN, among other places. His Instagram following is currently at 117,000. The Kardashian/Jenner family is over 180 million. Help right the world by following Rich McCor instead. He'll make you happy. You'll see.
The weather outside is frightful. Seems like a perfect day to build something.
Ben Harris built this beautiful boat entirely by hand. This four-minute portrait is a beautiful look at the work and the reward of doing so.
As for me, I'm planning to build a Dark 'N' Stormy later this afternoon. I intend to apply the same love and care to the project.