A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams




I have always been told I am competitive. For a while I denied it. I only wanted to be the best I possibly could. I couldn’t understand how other people had anything to do with my goals.

Then I spent the entirety of my adolescence — save for a brief nine months immediately preceding menarche — feeling utterly and completely alone.

Yesterday I realized that that loneliness was my competitiveness lacking an appropriate outlet. Or at least a great part of it was.

You see, very few people in the world know what it’s like to dedicate themselves wholly and single mindedly to a task. Many people think they know.

For example Thunder thinks he knows what it means to be truly great as a cyclist. He thinks it means abusing himself, denying himself, making every practice session gut wrenchingly difficult so that he can feel like he is doing everything he can to be great. Many Japanese men share a similar attitude. But true greatness requires attention to every detail. You cannot neglect your emotional health because you want to be an athlete any more than you can neglect your physical health because you want to be a genius.

To a certain extent, the single-minded head bashing approach to training will work. It will take the young and inexperienced well into the ranks of mediocre or slightly advanced. However, to break through to the highest echelons of human performance one must become intimate with the entirety of their existence: mind, body, heart, and environment. Every one of these must work in harmony if you want to know the true limits of your ability and not just fizzle out somewhere in the middle of the path.

After spending time with a true champion, I now understand that my inability to connect with the people around me, even the “active” and the “sporty” people is perhaps a direct result of the fact that I want to be truly great while most people are content to just be pretty good. It’s not to say that I am better than others. I still have a long way to go and there are countless unknowns on the path in front of me that could derail my plans, but I know where I want to go and that is to the edge. My loneliness it seems is because I keep surrounding myself with people who are better than me by chance — because they were lucky enough to be born male, or because they were trained from a younger age — but not people who are traveling the same path to greatness that I am traveling.

It is thanks to my dearest rival that I understand the difference between a champion and an amateur. It was she who taught me that the competition isn’t even about winning, but about discovering how you can take that next step on the path to discovering your own potential.

No wonder I have been so lonely all these years. I have confused chance and circumstance with drive and intention for almost my whole life. I am truly excited now to see what the world looks like when I can share it with people who are traveling the same path with me.

Goodbye, Cruel Boys, I’m Leaving You Today

I’m in pain again today. I’m suffering a loss and it really, really hurts.

Yesterday I went to watch the Ishikawa JCBF series road race in Ishikawa, Fukushima. It was my first time to Fukushima and I have to say, at least in the area I was in, there is no evidence of the meltdown. I got sunburned, though, so maybe I shouldn’t be too relaxed.

I went with Thunder and a selection of regulars from the Everwin team. When I asked if it was ok for me to go and watch, Thunder (who is in charge of the team) told me that it was ok, except that I would have to ride in the back with the bikes because the athletes take priority. Whatever, I’m ok with that. Turned out that the back was very nice and the other guys were fighting over it because we were all massively sleep deprived and exhausted from the heat. In the back, you could lay down and actually sleep.

When we arrived at the race site everyone got out to ride across town to the registration booth. I didn’t know how far it was, or where it was, but I had my sweet new race baby (Kookaburra), and I was committed to the day so I did my best to keep up.

I couldn’t keep up. I got lost. I had no cell reception and even though there were staff along the race course, I had no idea what to even ask them. “Hey, uh, I’m looking for my friend’s car… No, I don’t know where he parked it. Or where I am. Or what I’m even doing out here.” With no wallet, phone, or food and my stomach running on so close to empty that I was starting to get dizzy in the early morning heat, lost and with no way of knowing how to get back before the race started and the roads closed, I just sat down and cried.

Somehow I managed to figure out where the car was. Thankfully, it was also unlocked and I was able to feed myself. As I sat on the concrete, alone with my bike, it occurred to me that not only was this not the first time this has happened to me, but it seems to be part of a pattern.

Thunder does not seem to give a shit about what happens to me.
The Giant store manager might give a shit, but it’s apparently too much work.
The girls at the Giant store are useless wastes of good flesh.
The boys on the Giant team are too oblivious to know how hard I work to be able to play with them, or how exhausting it is to always be the one who gets dropped and needs special attention.

In the heat, far from home and disconnected from anyone who cared about me, I realized that my relationship with Giant is over.

The Giant store was my salvation when I came to Japan. I was lonely and lost and they gave me a place to be, bikes to ride, trails to play on and support in my life. And then something happened. I got too big for them, maybe? And now it feels like I’m nothing more than a burden to them all the time. I try to help and they don’t want my help. I try to play and I get brushed off. I try to train and I get ignored. I try to do business with them and, well, I get ignored there, too. I don’t know what happened or why, but I know that the safety and comfort that the people there represented to me at one time is gone now and nothing I can do will bring it back.

And this hurts.

This hurts a fucking lot.

And you know? I can’t help but wonder if a large part of this isn’t the language barrier. People think I’m fluent in Japanese, but mostly they’re rounding up. I’m only fluent when people are talking to me directly and in person. On the phone, in a group, or about a subject I’m not familiar, I struggle to keep up. I wonder if my inability to have a relationship with the people who I desperately wanted to be friends with is that they are all simply too busy to take the time to give me the individual attention I need to actually communicate. Of course I’m angry because if they cared at all about me, they would, at least on occasion, take the time and energy to check in on me. It’s not like I ask a lot, and I’m incredibly flexible. Like with the car. If he told me I had to ride on the roof with the bikes I would make it work.

It’s one of the reasons why I’m so dissatisfied with my job. There’s no reason for anyone to need to interact with me. My students can just sit there. My colleagues never pass me in the hall. But even if they did, they don’t share the same passions that I have.

In the end, I feel pretty damn hopeless that I will ever have a family. I feel like I may never be free of this chronic, aching loneliness that plagues every waking moment of my life. It’s pretty scary to be here. I feel very close to the edge of nothing matters at all. I know that place. I hate that place.

Once I used to be pretty resilient. I have lived with pain since I can remember, but long ago I still had hope. I was still able to tell myself that if it all went to shit I could go and sell sandwiches on the beach in Italy. Now I know that I’m too restless for that. Now I know that even that life would be too hard for me. I would feel constrained eventually, and dead without a greater purpose.

And the loneliness wouldn’t go away.

I guess the ultimate truth that I am coming to is that I am different. I used to want to believe that I wasn’t different, that I was just imagining it, or that if I wanted something I could just go out and get it, even if that something was friendship. I have never put so much work and so many tears into having a friendship before. I think I’ve come further with the Giant boys than I’ve come with anyone*, maybe. And to see it all come crashing down in a stinking pile of shit…

Well, it just makes you think that maybe the problem is with you. Maybe you’re unfixable and unlovable. Maybe you really are different, and that’s why no one wants you around.













ENGLISH Continue reading “始まります”

Martyn Ashton Rides Again

For some of us, we are afraid to chase our dreams. For others, we chase them, only to get discouraged when people tell us they are impossible.

For Martyn Ashton, however, “physically impossible” wasn’t a reason to stop chasing his dreams. He took the longest, hardest fall a human can: From international bike trials champion, to a wheelchair. He tried typical parasports. He tried giving up the bike, but to him, biking is in his blood. Martyn needed to get back on a bike like he needed to breathe.

For Martyn, some dreams really do come true.



Continue reading “Martyn Ashton Rides Again”

Riding With People

So, today was my first go at riding with the You Can team. Last week I rode, but it was just me and the staff since, apparently, the possibility of afternoon rain is scary enough that no one wants to come out for morning practice. Lame-os.

I was really looking forward to riding today. It was my cookie for an entire week of reduced mileage. I knew I had trashed my legs for too many weeks in a row and that I really, really, needed to give them some rest when even a single flight of stairs was winding me. I tried really hard and by Friday I had only ridden one half of my typical mileage. I was really proud of myself. In the end, it turned out to still not be enough rest, but at least I was better.

Pikuro's New Headlight
At least Pikuro got a new addition of Pink today.

I showed up for the ride all raring to go (with the noodley excuse for a pair of legs that I had) and I was really excited to see that I would be riding with two other women and two other guys. The one guy was on a fancy-ass time trial bike, too, so I figured he was either experienced, or wanted to be. I figured I was in good company. The woman who was in charge of our group wasn’t wearing a team jersey. She had on a pale blue jersey with riding capris so well worn that you could see the moon through them. She was also incredibly soft in the middle. I underestimated her because of her look. She has twenty years of bike experience under her, admittedly large, belt. She was a steady lead and a confident descender…

and she was fucking annoying. We start riding with me in fourth position. Every single stop light I have to slam my brakes and then sprint to catch the fuck up. By the time the people in front of me signaled that they were going to stop, I was already slowing down because you could see the red light halfway up the road. Do you still have to signal when it’s bloody fucking obvious? And then when the light would turn yellow and they still weren’t signaling I was like, “are we taking this light? Shit!” ::slams brakes:: I’ve never ridden with a group less smooth.

I chalked the start up to weary legs. I figured the stops were whatever and the starts were because my tired legs just weren’t accelerating right. I did my best until we got to the first climb near Sagami lake. I had ridden this particular route before with Thunder so I knew what I was in for. I still got dropped pretty quickly, but this I’m used to. What I wasn’t used to was an old man on my tail saying “You can do it. Nearly halfway. Don’t worry, it doesn’t get any steeper. Two more turns until we crest…” SHUT UP ALREADY! I KNOW! I’VE RIDDEN IT! I’M NOT AN IDIOT, I’M RIDING ON TRASHED LEGS!

The rest of the ride was just a constant barrage of people (mostly the frumpy lady) telling me what to do intermixed with the old man telling me the climb ahead is almost over.

“Don’t brake in the curves” I know this, bitch, there was a fucking car headed right for me on the wrong side of the road. You want me to ride into it?

“Use your hamstrings to pedal. It’s more efficient.” You think I bought these fucking clipless pedals so I could enjoy falling over at stoplights?

“Stop at the intersection or else you will get lost!” Yeah, I know. What I don’t know is why you’re braking at the top of the goddamn hill. Isn’t bike practice about getting faster?

Why the fuck doesn’t anyone want to ride fast?!?!!!

Seriously, I felt like I spent five hours riding with a bunch of washed out putzes.

When we got back to the shop their super fast and really chill mountain biker turned road racer was there. He asked how I did. I told him it was rough and that my legs weren’t healed. The frumpy lady told him I did well on the flats, burned out on the hills, and on the descents made everyone pump their pedals the whole way lest I overtake them. That last bit made me proud. I’m not a good descender and I still panick and tense up, particularly if the road is new or busy, but it made me happy to know I could put a rider with twenty years experience on guard. They discussed my bike and my gears and decided it wasn’t my fault but the fault of riding a cyclocross bike at a road practice. I would like to say that no fault can be found with Pikuro and she is a perfect bicycle just the way she is (love her!), but after I saw the weights on some of the new frames available at the shop (did you know an entire fucking frame can weigh in at under 800g now?), I concurred that Pikuro’s weight could be keeping me down. She’s just a tad over 10, maybe even 11 kilograms. A new carbon bike with good quality components can come in at under 8 easy. Two to three kilograms of weight would be a great savings to me on a hill.

So would stronger legs.

Then they discussed my group riding manners. She wasn’t pleased with me. I wasn’t pleased with her. Mountain-bike-turned-road-racer dude was very kind. He suggested that perhaps I was just inexperienced and still not able to anticipate the movements of the group fully. Thank you, Mr. Mountainbiker Man!

All in all it was an exhausting day. In contrast to the usual serenity that cycling alone brings me, riding with this group not only muzzled my beast, but stole my attention and sucked all of my energy. Between the choppy pacing of the other riders, the streets busy with traffic, and the frumpy lady with all her unwelcome advice on how to ride, my brain was ready to short circuit.

Frazzled brain, trashed legs, loss of my dream for finding like minded people to ride with.

It was a hard day.


When I entered college, I cheated. I did two things that were technically against the rules.

1. I applied as a transfer student because I had missed the deadline to apply as a freshman. It got my application a lot of attention.
2. Instead of a statement of purpose, or an admission essay or a cover letter, or whatever those things are where you say why they should admit you to their school, I wrote a two page essay on how love can save the world.

Out of 900 students applying for admission to Yale university as transfer students, my tricks got me one of only 25 available slots.

Today I wonder to myself how I got so far from those beliefs. I wonder to myself how it was that ten years passed and I forgot the power and the audacity I had as a teenager when I bucked the rules of admission at the top university in the entire country — and got in. I wonder to myself how I ever got so tame.

There is another thought that plagues me these days. Love can save the world. I love passionately, wholly, unreservedly, and more often than not, one sidedly. I have asked myself here on this blog on more than one occasion: If I have this paradise to offer, why does no one take me up on it?

Today, I think I have found this answer, too. I have not actually invited anyone.

Often I feel desperately alone. I don’t think it’s because no one cares about me. I think it’s because in our world we are raised inside invisible barriers that separate us from one another. These barriers take the form of propriety, manners, ettiquette, and respect. The only times we are allowed to breach these boundaries are in romance, and we are only allowed to be in love with one person at a time. This is a recipe for perpetual isolation in no small part because we cannot even see that the cage that holds us is of our own making.

So, why have I not invited anyone to my paradise? My paradise is built of infinite, unbounded love. It is love for myself, love for my fellow humans and love for the awesomeness of the earth that holds me. I have not confessed my love to anyone, not in earnest, not openly and plainly, and this is why I am alone in my world.

It’s scary to confess your love. We are taught that confessions of love must be met with reciprocation or refuttal, but nothing in between. We don’t know that it’s possible to be loved by someone without that person requiring anything from us, so we don’t know how to respond when unconditional love is offered to us. Most of the time, we mistake it for infatuation, romance, or sexual attraction. If we don’t feel this way towards the person loving us, more often than not it spells the end of our relationship with each other. That’s why it’s so scary to offer your love. It’s not because we fear the other person might not feel the same way, but that we fear we may be rejected as humans, that our most precious gift will be scorned, and this is no trivial fear.

But I am a trailblazer. I am an alpha, a loner, a wild beast and a goddess. I listen to all, but take counsel from my heart alone. I shall declare my love! I shall do this honestly, openly, and without hope for reciprocation. I shall take steps to guarantee that my confessions do not manipulate or pressure the humans that I love, and I shall declare my love only to those who I know I am ready to accept immediately and whole heartedly into my paradise.

This frightens me. But I have learned most recently that fear, deep, smouldering fear is my surest sign that I am traveling the path I have been seeking. We only fear when we know what we have to lose. Fear is replacing my anxiety, a kind of nervous unease that all I did and all I am is worth nothing. Fear burns.

Fear wakes the beast and the beast is in love with life.


I quit facebook last year around July. Facebook is astoundingly hard to quit, not just because they hide the controls to do it and then don’t actually erase your data or delete your account so that you can, at any time, log in and everything is exactly the way it was when you left, but because even in a country like Japan which came relatively late to the facebook party, massive quantities of social life and business take place exclusively on facebook.

There are a few people in my community who do their primary marketing and public communications on facebook. I want to help them and be a part of their projects, but it is difficult for us to communicate because I refuse to use facebook and they refuse to use non-facebook. We end up only ever making plans when we run into each other at other events, or if one of us goes out of our way to chase the other down. This specific group of people frequently and unrelentingly try to get me back on facebook and usually the only way to shut them down is to remind them that I quit because it triggers my depression.

Not so long ago I was added to a group on facebook that I desperately want to be a part of. It is a closed group, joinable only by invitation, and it disseminates information about biking that I am most literally starving for. Suddenly I have a reason worth logging in for. I have browsed a few times in the last weeks, hungry for updates from this group, but still wary of the ill effects that facebook has on my mood, and it dawned on me exactly what it is about facebook that triggers such strong depressive states in me.

First, let’s all agree that baby photos, photos of your food, and political campaign messages are universally annoying. Beyond that, however, is a problem so very unique to facebook that I honestly do not know a solution, or even on whom the burden of solving it should lie. The problem is the following. In my life there are dreams I have carried for years that have not become accessible to me. Lately my focus is on bicycle related dreams, but there are many others. My friends are all people who share some sort of dream with me — you know, you make friends with people with similar interests — and so their facebook posts tend to be about the things that I dream about. This would be a good thing except that when I see my friends achieving what I have always wanted, but never figured out how to have, it shreds my confidence in my own abilities and qualities as a human. Furthermore, I often find myself wondering, “They know that this is something I’m desperately yearning for, and yet they don’t share it with me? Why not? Do they not care? Do they not want me as part of their life?” It doesn’t matter if I know that my reaction is more to the nature of facebook posts than to the people themselves, it still hurts. It hurts tremendously.

I hate facebook because it forces me to repeatedly see other people acquiring the things of my dreams and doing it without me. It hurts. I hate it. Naturally any non-insane person would know to stop doing something that hurts for sure, and so I tried to quit facebook, but my friends all want me back. What to do?

The most difficult aspect of the facebook dilemma is that I want my friends to achieve their dreams. I want my friends to be happy and I want them to share their happy with me. Moreover, if my friends acquire what I dream of, then I can ask them how to get those things myself, and as a result those things should become more accessible to me, too. Somehow, though, the latter never happens. Even though objectively I wish for my friends to go right on doing what they are doing, because they share on facebook and not to me in person, I always end up feeling left out, like I wasn’t invited to the party.

But what do you do? Do you tell your friends not to post about their successes? Or the fun they have? Of course not! Then facebook would ONLY be baby photos, food photos, (photos of edible  babies?) and political hate speach. That can NOT be an improvement by anyone’s standards.

My only solution has been to walk away from facebook. I feel more isolated because I literally cannot join my friends in activities that they only advertise through facebook, but at least I do not incessantly hurt myself when I am alone and feeling vulnerable. And I can use the excuse that I don’t use facebook to make my friends tell me about their lives in person. Hell, I can even go chase them down and say, “Hey! What’s going on in your life? What have you posted on facebook for everyone else to see that I would be interested in knowing?” And you know what? Most of the time, they tell me! It’s hard, I won’t deny it. It’s stressful to always have to be the one to initiate contact. For sure, though, it’s better than the alternative.

Still in Pain

First, I would like to apologize. That title is a pun. It’s not appropriate to make puns about being in pain because puns are funny (even if only in the “har har…groan” sense), and pain is not funny. So, sorry for the poor pain pun.*

Recently I had the opportunity to practice being still in my pain. I have mentioned in previous posts about the Numbness — that feeling of excrutiating pain in your soul that just cannot fully manifest itself into tears, and ends up filling your body with an overwhelming numbness that claws at your heart and dims your vision, making you feel like an empty shell in a world made of cardboard. The Numbness is a kind of existential pain, and like all pain, it eventually passes.

I say I had the opportunity to be still in my pain because being still in pain, particularly the numbing kind, allows us to fully experience it, and by experiencing it, allow it to pass. For most of us, the reflexive reaction to pain is to tense up and brace against it. This is true of pain in our bodies, but pain in our hearts can do the same. We also instinctively try to run from the source of the pain. Pain in our bodies is easier to deal with because our bodies know how to deal with pain: remove the source, place a protective scar over the wound, then repair the damage. Pain in our hearts is more difficult. Sometimes we don’t know what the source is, so we run around in panic. Sometimes we put a scar over the wound without removing the source, sealing it in and preventing healing. Sometimes we place a scar so thick, and then forget to remove it later, so that we are emotionally crippled. Stillness is the salve that cures the wound and removes the pain.

Because I was able to sit in stillness for three solid days, doing absolutely nothing to relieve my pain or my fear of more pain to come, I think I was finally able to understand where the pain was coming from. As I sat on my porch, sipping a bitter sweet drink of cool honey-vinegar, the shade over my eyes began to thin and brighten and I began to see finally that my pain was bubbling up from two sources.

First, there was the pain I was experiencing from forcing myself into a role that does not allow for complete expression of who I am. I speak here of my job as an economist. In the past, I thought I was feeling a sense of inadequacy (maybe I was?) that perhaps I am not suited to be an economist because I’m not good enough at it. I thought that my lack of publications was perhaps the result of some flaw in my character — I don’t put in enough hours at work, or my attention deficit disorder prevents me from being able to focus on the minute details of formatting and submitting my work to professional journals. I also felt at times that my pain was perhaps being caused by the incessant judgmental nature of academia. Until you have tenure, you are constantly being evaluated and your livelihood depends on you outperforming in some measurable sense most of your other peers. It is nearly impossible to focus on producing good quality work that answers truly important questions when doing so puts you at risk of going against the greater body of academics who hold the power to decide your future.

In the past, when I have felt this pain of inadequacy and uncertainty about my job, my reaction was to run from it by taking steps to secure my future position. This meant spending more time and more energy devoted to something that did not fulfill me and brought me more pain and more discontent. Even as my conscious mind was aware of the reality that there is nothing particularly special about being an economist that I should bleed my soul for it, I was at the same time unable to see that my actions were at all times reactions to the pain and fear of losing that identity. Put another way, I was stuck in my unhappiness because I kept attempting to escape it by looking backwards at where I came instead of forwards at where I wanted to go. I had no idea where I wanted to go and I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. Rough, no?

The second source of pain that became apparent to me was my relationship (or lack of relationship) with my friends. I have always fought to have good friends and I to this day do not understand why it doesn’t happen. In the past I have often blamed myself for not being proactive enough; I didn’t tell the boy that I liked him (Thunder, I like you HARD, like I want your penis to like my vagina: HARD! There. I said it. Are we friends now? Hmm…), so I’m the only one to blame if our relationship never deepens; No one ever invites me out to play with them, but if I don’t invite them out, then I’m equally to blame that we don’t hang out. Right? What I learned from my stillness is that it doesn’t matter. I am not in possession of the friendships that I crave, and this lack causes me pain.

It took three days of silent, still, intentional inaction to finally understand where my pain was coming from. These days were difficult for me. At every moment, even as the Numbness threatened to suffocate me, I forced myself to remain still. If my thoughts reached out to try and find solutions to my pain, I brought them back. I said to myself, “No, mind, you cannot find a solution to a problem that you do not truly understand. First, let us understand why you hurt so much.”

I feel much stronger and more resilient now than before I spent my time in Stillness. Ironically, my relationships to my friends have not changed, nor have I found a new career path to replace the one that I am sure I must leave. At the same time, however, I feel that a stillness has come to my soul. Where once it felt like a sea under storm, it is much closer now to a windswept lake.

I think that in our world we are told to take action too often. There is this idea that if you do nothing, then you are at fault for your lack of success. I think that this advice at one time used to be good, but has become warped in a society that lacks opportunity for stillness. When one’s default is stillness, then only action can bring new insight. Sometimes, even the switch from inaction to action is enough to focus our intentions and make clear to us what our hearts are craving. However, when we are constantly bombarded with new stimuli, new claims on our attention, new ways to numb the pain, then action can never be wholly separated from reaction and we cannot know if what we do is in fact what our unique being is directing us to do. When this is the place we find ourselves in, only inaction can be trusted to reflect our true desires.

As a result of my stillness and inaction, I have hope now that, at least for a short while, my actions are springing forth authentically from my own Self. I have hope that the steps I choose to take forward, even as they terrify me, are steps towards something that is better than what I am leaving behind.

To close my thoughts, I want to share with you a conversation I had with the manager of my favorite bike shop. In my frustration at their lack of support for my development as a cyclist, I went searching for a shop or a group that I could ride with. I found, on that fateful day that I decided to chase the boys in their team practice, a shop most appropriately named You Can. I ventured in and they enthusiastically offered to train me and support me as an athlete. The catch, however, is that I have to leave the Giant Store. This hurt, and it was not an easy choice to make, but I decided in the moment that I would do it. There is no other way for me to chase this dream. Out of politeness and respect for everything they have done for me, I went to talk to the manager at Giant. He was understanding. He’s a good guy. He’s very dear to me. As we were talking I said to him, “Lately, all I can think of, all I want to do is ride my bike. In the last year of my contract I should be working hard to bolster my resume for my impending job search, but instead I am riding, even taking shortcuts at work in order to have more time to ride. The reality is, no matter how successful I am at my job, I could win the Nobel Prize for all it matters to me, there is nothing that will comfort me if I don’t find out how fast, how far, how hard I can ride. There is simply nothing that I would regret more than not chasing this dream right here and right now.”

My friend was understanding, supportive even. “Well, it’s not a big deal. Somehow things will work out,” he said to me.

I have to trust that. I have to believe that somehow things will work out. There’s just no other way to do it.

*alliteration is also funny and not appropriate. I will not apologize for my alliteration.




出発が明日になったら楽しみが満ちています。移動もすごく楽しみにしています。船に乗れるんだ!人による情報なんだけど、2時間から6時間ぐらいは乗れるらしいです。楽しみ ^o^。





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