Order Confirmation: sadness

I just bought a hoard of goodies. All of them are completely unnecessary for my survival, though entirely necessary to make me happy for at least the three minutes of excitement they give me before the novelty wears off and I go back online searching for more. Shipped from all across the country, built all across China, my self-given gifts arrived one by one at my doorstep in large brown cardboard boxes, waiting for me when I got home from working hard to make money to buy these things.  I’d take pictures of all my stuff and parade them proudly for all of you to see, but I don’t have a camera…yet.  In the mean time I’ll do a quick recap of what I got:

One front Mavic Open Pro wheel with an Ultegra hub. Super heavy duty 32 spoke for training.
One rear Mavic Open Pro wheel with a Garmin Pro Powertap.
One Garmin 800 GPS/bike computer
One Craft winter cycling jacket–bright neon yellow. Pro
One set of Craft long winter bibs with a chamois. Black
One set of Louie Garneau leg warmers because I’ve been using the same leg warmers since 2006
10 tubes
Two sets of cleats
One Whipperman Chain–Why? Only because Whipperman makes the best chains. They never brake extremely quickly or cause poor shifting. Ever.
Two rolls of rim tape
Two sets of brake cartridges
One pair of Louie Garneau shoe covers
One bottle of Simple Green bike degreaser/cleaner (this is a first)
One pair of Sennheiser headphones
One phone charger because I lost my other one

I assume some of you may think to yourself, “Yeah! Kennett needs all this stuff because most of his non team-issued gear looks like it was used to clean shark diarrhea.” (For some reason I imagine sharks having jagged diarrhea just like their teeth). Well, if you said that then thank you for agreeing with me. I DO deserve this! And more. Much, much more. I’m actually just getting my spending spree started. In order for the Garmin to work with my laptop, which is a 2007 MacBook, I had to upgrade to the new (for 2009) Leopard Mac OS X 10.6 operating system for $20. And to make the Leopard operating system work with my computer’s low memory I had to buy 2GB of RAM for an additional $50, plus tax. It’s a never-ending process of consuming for consumption’s sake. The more you have the more upkeep and accessories you need to buy in order to make your things work.  In the sporting world, the simplistic life of a runner must be very minimalisticly-satisfying…until you add in the thousands of dollars incurred by knee surgeries and other medical costs.

Driven by the all-powerful Profit, consumption is pushed on us through advertising, which draws on our instincts to compete with our peers and hoard when times are good, which is always. How does one go about combating this? How do we deny literally hundreds of years-worth of hunting and gathering as much food and resources as possible in order to survive the lean months of winter?  One very simple solution is to not have enough money to buy anything because no matter how frugal you are, if you have money you will spend it on useless junk. Even if you don’t have money you still end up consuming, albeit less, endless piles of plastic and 72-ounce insulated mugs of corn syrup from AMPM. In America, even the poor consume like frenzied porcupines at a quill shop. (If I could draw I’d make a comic of a bunch of porcupines at K-Mart during Black Friday fighting for small boxes with a big banner hanging from the ceiling saying, “75% OFF ALL 1800’s STYLE PENS.”)

Suicide might curb spending, but everyone I know who’s tried it hasn’t gotten back to me yet so I can’t be sure. Even when we’re dead we find ways to amass new stuff. Gotta have that Team Carbon SL casket with asymmetrical handles, which increases power-transfer for your pallbearers so you don’t get dropped–pun intended.

My grandfather died a few weeks ago and one of my longest-time friends and mentors is struggling with his fight against cancer. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about death lately and how sickening it is when you realize that you’ll never see or talk to that person again. Decades of existence vanish in a lost heartbeat. Legacies had been foreign to me.  Why would anyone care about what’s left behind when they’re dead? A dead person cares not. I’ve realized that a legacy is a crutch for the still-living, soon-to-be-dead. The emptiness of death is scary enough without the past being empty too.  Leaving something behind gives life a purpose. A legacy lets you enter death with a night light, even if it’s us that really need one when you’re gone.

During times of tragedy it’s strange how your brain switches from normal thought, like daydreaming about winning a stage of Redlands or wondering how you got this strange rash, to suddenly remembering the somberness of the deceased, a sick friend, the silenced screams of Darfur. As your mind drifts back to food you feel guilty for not thinking about your grandfather. At least I do. I’m upset by my own lack of compassion. The last time I shed a tear was 2007. How callous and uncaring have I become? Even in everyday life I often feel like an alien observing the abnormalities of humans for a book I’m planning on publishing back on my home planet. I drift through the grocery store without speaking.  I make eye contact once in a while and smile at the pretty girls, but otherwise I’m in my complete own world. We all do this. Why? Why don’t we talk to strangers? We’re all human after all.  And when we do talk to them why do we leap to meaningless small talk and fake, toothy smiles?  We treat each other like half beings,  mirrors, and we impatiently wait for our turn to talk. Instead, what if we all thought of each other as our closest family members and friends? I wouldn’t flip that driver off who buzzed me, instead I’d just smile and shake my head, knowing that they did it on purpose as a friendly joke. They’d slow down and open the window and we’d exchange a few smiling curse words and laugh. They’d speed up and I’d jump behind the car’s draft with them slowly ramping it up to 50 until I’d get dropped and wave goodbye. And still probably flip them off, but in a friendly way.  Just a complete stranger, somehow knowing exactly who I am and what I’m about.

Until then I’ll continue caring only about myself, and drift through a full world solo, buying momentary happiness to stave off the deaths of the few people I know. Wow I really need to start training again.