Map My Ride

As I commented yesterday, I’m not a fitness fanatic.  I rather smirk at those people with devices strapped to their upper arm measuring heart-rate, calorie expenditure, respiration rate, ml of sweat lost, distance of hairs from upper arm, and who knows what else.  I can’t help thinking that all this measuring is at the expense of simply experiencing: surely you can feel if your heart-rate is increasing and your breath is coming faster?  Can’t you tell if you are sweating?  I worry that the more we rely on devices to tell us what is going on, the less we will be able to simply tune in to our bodies and experience what they are telling us.

It’s similar, in a way, to maps vs satnavs.  I like looking at maps because they help me to interpret where I’ve been and put it in the context of a wider area.  There’s a hinterland to my journey whereas all a satnav wants is to get me from one point in space to another point in space using the best available route.  There’s no context to this; it assumes no interest in the landscape, just the simple logistics of getting from point A to point B.  I feel the same about printing out a route on Google: navigating with just a piece of paper leaves me feeling naked.

Then again, I’ve always been bad with instructions.  They don’t work out for me, partly because I resent them and partly because I question them.  What if the person I’m supposed to meet isn’t there?  What if the milk doesn’t curdle?  What if the part I need is missing?

I demand the right to be flexible – which means, in the context of travelling, having a map.  If you have a map you understand the hinterland; you know the alternatives available to you.  A map is power in your hands.  So having done my bike ride, I immediately wanted to find out how many miles I’d done and what the route looked like.  Because although I could feel how many miles I’d done – especially the next day (!) I guess a part of us wants to have our experience verified by external sources.  I wanted to be able to say ‘I cycled fifteen miles’ instead of ‘I went on a long bike-ride.’

So, all of this brings me, in a roundabout way, to insecure writers day.

Yes, it’s that time of the month again, when all writers experience a surge of insecurity hormones.  We write something which we feel is brilliant, insightful, interesting – and immediately we want to share it.  We want our thoughts verified by others – which generally means we want to be published.  But, by ignoring the satnav of ‘how to get published’ and looking at the hinterland; the history and geography of our art*, I’ve found another route: and that is performance.  Performing poems has given me a direct relationship with an audience who appreciate (and occasionally don’t appreciate) my work.  I get an immediate response which, though I enjoy comments on this blog, feels so much more powerful.  There’s something about being in the same room as your audience; seeing, hearing and feeling their response.   It’s so much better than words on a page.

So please, if you’re in or near Leicester, come and see, hear and feel my words at these upcoming Artbeat events:

  1.  Poetry on Toast, Sunday 19th June, 5 pm at Fingerprints cafe
  2. Comedy Night, Monday, 20th June, 8.30 at Cultura cafe

See you there!

Kirk out

* I’ll come back to this.  I’ve rambled enough for one day

5 thoughts on “Map My Ride

  1. The first bit reminds me of the practice of taking photos rather than directly experiencing life. I read an article the other day in the Guardian the other day which said that when we share things on social media, we’re not so much living as preparing our obituaries – life can wait until after we’re dead. The other thing is, I think this is psychogeography. The effects of the environment on your emotions and behaviour are the point more than the numbers involved. On the other hand, numbers can give a sense of security and control.

  2. I very much agree with you on too much fitness tech; I have a speedometer on my bike and I like to put the figures into a speadsheet each day and compare my efforts each month… but heart-rate and all that, or have some sort of phone App to tell me what to do next… no thanks. And maps vs. satnavs… no thanks to the latter – maps really do give you a broader perspective and the ability to read one (a dying art perhaps) is a wonderful thing I think.

  3. I love maps. But the width of roads cannot unfortunately be to scale. Hence one is given the impression that a not insignificant portion of our green and pleasant is covered in tarmac. It would be interesting to find out how the ratio of area taken up by roads as a fraction of the total area of a map compares with the same ratio on terra firma.

    Spock out

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