2018.12.12 Insights on Mountain Biking and Parenting
It has occurred to me that there are some striking perceptual similarities between mountain biking and having children.
Attempts to explain this have not gone well in person, but maybe a somewhat more deliberate construction here might work better. It goes something like this:
From an objective point of reference, it is entirely reasonable to evaluate idea-X as being characterized primarily by risk and unpleasantness. Further, there is a somewhat disconcerting difficulty for a non-X-inclined person in comprehending the ascribed benefits and joys attributed to idea-X by X-committed individuals. Even worse than that, the testimonials of the X-inclined people seem to revel in the objectively worst parts of idea-X.
You take that paragraph, and you can plug in both "mountain biking" and "having children" with equal ease. For people who are not one or the other - parents or mountain bikers - this might not be obvious. But as a person who regularly tries to describe the painful joys of parenting to non-breeders, and the treacherous thrills of mountain biking to sane people, they share some very similar variability of interpretations.
When I comment on being exhausted from being woken up in the middle of the night by my spawn, non-breeders interpret that as a cautionary tale about the horrors of sexually-transmitted parasitic primates. Whereas other parents smile and nod wearily, knowing the sensation of worthy sacrifice for these beings we adore.
When I share tales of facing down a steep treacherous track while traveling at a speed guaranteed to hurt if I make contact with the plentiful trees and chundery rocks, non-mountain bikers wince and think me very foolish to have gotten myself in such a predicament. However mountain bikers look for the opportunity apply a high-five in appreciation of the base-of-the-brain adrenalin from using skill to overcome fear.
When I reflect on the price of, well, everything to do with having children, not-parentally-inclined folks laugh and imagine all the things they don't want to give up. Instead, other people who have kids laugh about the realization that it's all wasted anyway.
When I kvetch about the misery of slogging uphill through the rain, mountain-bike-averse persons hear a tale of misery. The alternate assumption of a veteran chunder-seeker is that this was an investment that would certainly prove worthwhile for the gnar-filled joy to be reaped from the vert.
And so on.
It makes me contemplate some possible similarities of questionable evolutionary biology theory to explain how these altered states of perception might make sense. For the case of parenting, it makes evolutionary sense for humans to have altered neurobiology regarding the having of offspring - because fondly care-taking our young despite the bottomless demands they require helps the fundamental success of the species. Likewise with mountain biking, it is the same foolish wellspring of enjoying overcoming fear with talent that allowed our species to (occasionally) successfully transition from being cave bear chow to wearing cave bear pelts.