Things-I-Used-To-Do List


By Joe Kurmaskie — If you’re anything like me, then a good bike ride not only clears your head and moves your blood around, but it can put you into the best of trances. The bike acts like a perpetual meditation machine.

I tend to go quiet; a very unnatural state of existence for me, but not an unpleasant one, just damn hard to achieve on my own. Rain, wind and car horns become background. My outer shell performs lifesaving moves that have become second nature over the years. When I come back to Earth I either think I have the next great thing, or a bunch of broken thoughts that make me happy, or at least engaged. Either way the bike helps tap into something.

Joe Kurmaskie riding in Africa. Photo by Dave Welch

That’s where I came up with my Things-I-Used-To-Do List.

Today My To-Do list had gone missing somewhere between the garage and my rain jacket so I was flying blind, trying to conjure a virtual version of it on a screen inside my head. As I squinted my mind’s eye to get a better look, my list kept morphing into something else; old cartoons of Foghorn Leghorn, a few favorite food items from the actual list, a scene from The Big Lebowski, the one where The Dude gets hit with the coffee mug by “that reactionary police officer up in Malibu.” So I let go of my list and kept pedaling in the direction of the first place I needed to be that day. I could remember that at least.

Somewhere during the first climb, the trance set in and a new list formed.

My Things-I-Used-To-Do List

  1. I used to play the trumpet morning and night. (seriously, I was my junior high school’s bugle player. Rain or shine, I had to pedal to school before the bell to play the morning revelry and the afternoon dismissal. And when our vice principal had a breakdown and was carted out in an ambulance, I resisted the urge to play taps. On the last day of school I did blow a couple bars of Hit The Road Jack. Dean Abel chased after me but I had my bike waiting in the wings and an entire summer into which I could escape.
  2. I used to sit on roofs with my best friends, watch planes fly over and stars come out, and sneak a beer up there that Jim or Norwood would knock over after two or three sips. Someone would always jump instead of climb down for it.
  3. I used to race anyone on two wheels… mostly without them knowing it. Sometimes they’d take up the charge. Now I act like it’s an affront to my civility if someone blows by me. What they hell happened to me?
  4. I used to get my hands dirty helping others. Now I send in a check and get a membership card. But dirty feels better.
  5. I used to taste each piece of candy. I can’t remember what I ate yesterday.
  6. I used to wear Hawaiian shirts because I liked them. I looked bad in them, still do, but I didn’t care.
  7. I used to sit at the bottom of the pool until it was almost too late. Then crack the surface and it felt like being reborn. I need to find a pool stat.
  8. I used to own no electronics. Wait, I gotta take this…
  9. I used to order three scoops. Not three scoops of nonfat, taste-free fro-yo, but the real stuff.
  10. I used to laugh at people who said they were tired too often. Now…
  11. I used to never check the weather.
  12. I used to take long bike tours with no destination.

With each item added to the list, I pump the pedals harder.

At the end of the ride, my extensive Things-I-Used-To-Do list should have made me a jumble of regret and melancholy. But no, it woke me up. All of it made me smile because much of it I’m going to do again, soon. Whomever you race home next, promise me you’ll invite them up to the roof, to laugh under the stars again, and bring up a carton of real ice cream. And if it’s me you’ll know, I’ll be in one in the Hawaiian shirt with the chainring grease marks on my calf.


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