On the Trail

I’ve always loved being outdoors, particularly in the woods. My family was never really into outdoor stuff but growing up in Oregon it is nearly impossible not to have some sort of affinity for nature. I remember as a young teenager exploring the random forests, woods, and streams that surrounded my home and the homes of my friends. We hiked up and down hills, talked about life, and hoped to catch a glimpse of naked girls in a river or stream… for some reason, I believed that girls just randomly hung out and skinny-dipped in streams that were just a few yards from roads and residential neighborhoods. I never found any naked girls, except the ones in the porn mags that always seemed to be hidden throughout the woods.

Since moving to Wilmington it has been difficult to explore nature in a way that feels natural to me. Luckily, I think I found a way: trail running. I’ve been running a lot lately but I find it so fucking boring sometimes. Just running around on concrete or a track feels so dull to me, I’m just not entertained or motivated or challenged by a flat run through a city or on UNCW’s track.

Trail running, though, is very different. It is a return to nature that demands constant vigilance. If you stop paying attention to the present for even a second you may trip on a root or crash into a tree. It is a very Stoic meditative exercise, your mind can’t wander too much or you will pay the consequences. And why would you want your mind to wander? All around is beautiful nature and fresh air. It is marvelous.

Last weekend I participated in a 9-mile run at Brunswick Nature Park and had a blast. I wasn’t trying to race or anything but I kept a really good 9ish-mile pace for the entire thing. I wasn’t even thinking about my time, I was just enjoying the moment. I felt actual joy while running, I felt goofy and had fun. I’d jump down hills and spread my arms like wings and bound off rocks. It was a childish joy that I rarely feel anymore, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Yes, my body was a little sore afterward and I was tired. The little muscles around my ankles and feet were particularly tender because they aren’t used to being used to stabilize on rocky terrain. That doesn’t matter though, my body will heal stronger and I’ll get out there again. My next group run isn’t until May but I’m trying to find ways to implement trail running into my routine. The college has a lot of woods and trails to explore, and I picked up some hiking boots to go rucking in. Rucking is definitely a different game than trail running, but I think it’ll be equally enjoyable and therapeutic. (I also have an overnight rucking event next month that I’m nervous/excited for… so I gotta break in my equipment).

One of the things I’ve really been missing here in Wilmington is a group of people to do physical activity with. I’ve got some great D&D friends and drinking friends, but I don’t have a lot of people to get outside with. Maybe trail running and rucking can help fill that hole.


Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/user/show/5292148
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Little Boxes

“Although we might think we’re a certain type of person, the more we witness the transient nature of body and mind, the more we realize that our true nature is forever undefined. As human beings we like to define things, to put labels on things, to put things in boxes. That’s especially true when it comes to ourselves, we like to think of ourselves as a certain type of person. We may wish we weren’t that type of person but we’ve still decided to think of ourselves as that type of person.” – Everyday Headspace, 2/6/2018, Headspace App

I spent most my life putting myself in boxes. I defined myself and my behavior certain ways because I believed that was “who I was”. I was a jealous person, therefore my jealousy was justified. I couldn’t help it. That’s just who I was. But emotions are always changing and my mind was able to practice control over them. Now, I am no longer jealous, and the first step was changing the way I talk to myself. I had to stop wrapping my identity int he emotion, in this weakness.

The same thing applies to many aspects of my life. I told myself that I just “wasn’t a runner” and that I didn’t and couldn’t be good at it or love it, and today I signed up for three 9+ mile trail races and have come to really enjoy running. I don’t identify as a “runner”, but I don’t identify as a “not runner” either. Running is currently an act I am capable of, it is a way to experience the world and this body that evolved for activity.

When I first started evaluating my diet and the ethics of food I was convinced that I could never be a vegan. I loved cheese too much, I could never give it up. I had a running script in my mind that highlighted my weaknesses, my lack of control, and I was just a victim of circumstance. All the ethical standards and health reports relating to dairy production meant nothing until I got rid of the internal dialogue that told me that I “couldn’t do it”. But here I am now, I vegan. It is still a struggle and I fail from time to time, but I know that I actually can live without cheese… all of us can. There is certainly a time and a place for exaggeration and hyperbole, but that place doesn’t include our minds and limitations.

Of course, sexuality and relationships are a big part of the human experience and how dynamic it can be. It is easy to classify myself as one thing “monogamous”, “straight”, etc. but those labels only box us in and put up barriers to new and authentic experiences. I had a drill sergeant once ask my company how we knew we were straight if we’d never sucked a dick. Crude, yes. But there was some truth to it. I certainly think that people know the basics of their sexuality from birth, it isn’t just a conscious choice and there is a genetic component to it, but if we take that genetic starting point and decide that we can never exist beyond it then we are just limiting ourselves. If I tell myself I could never be in a relationship with or have sex with or experience intimacy with a certain person based on genitalia, gender, or sexuality then I am only isolating myself from new opportunities.

Nobody should do something they don’t want to do or squicked out by, but that should be an honest response to a situation and not a mental model put in place in the abstract. We don’t know what we are capable of until we break down the negative identities that tell us what we are not, what we can’t do, what experiences aren’t true to us. We should be critical and examine all information received, particularly the information that comes from our own minds.

“There is nothing that is stable, and there is nothing that can be defined. That’s freedom.” – Everyday Headspace, 2/6/2018, Headspace App


 

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

For The Love of Life

At D&D on Wednesday one of the other players commented that she liked my gym photos on Facebook/Instagram because I look like I am suffering. I’m not sure if she hates me, was flirting, or something else, but she is correct, I am usually pretty miserable at the gym (and while running).

I’ve never been someone who enjoys working out. I don’t find it relaxing or therapeutic. I don’t easily jump out of bed and throw on my shoes to pound the pavement. I do everything I can to procrastinate it including, but not limited to, cleaning the house, masturbating, reading, writing, doing laundry, etc. But I do try to exercise daily for one simple reason: I love life a whole fucking bunch.

From all the research I’ve read there are a few key factors in our control that can increase the quality and quantity of our lives: don’t smoke, exercise regularly, eat whole foods plant-based diet, drink water, and sleep. Everything else is just details. So, I exercise in order to increase my chances as a longer and more pleasurable life. It sucks, but I view it as an investment. I spend 4.17% of my day in order to make my one life better then that is probably a good payoff, particularly since the gains are not only a longer life but one in which I can do things I’m interested in…

I want to climb mountains and camp under the stars and see the Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Pantheon, Dead Sea, Red Square, and Antarctica. I want to raft down rivers and sail across oceans and take a spaceship to the moon. I want to know what it feels like to be exhausted and sweaty and bleeding as I wander up to the top of a mountain and see the world below me. I want to weep tears of joy and suffering as I see land for the first time in days or weeks.

I want to dance at my great grand-nephew’s wedding. Cycle across the country with my partner when I’m 100 years old. I want to be able to give 1,000 pints of blood. I want to see what the next five generations of Neigers will be like.

Sidebar: Despite having five siblings (four of which are male), at this point, there is nobody carrying on my last name. That doesn’t really matter to me, I just find it funny. My sister has two boys but they took her husband’s name (as did she when they got married) and I my two brothers who have reproduced have only had daughters. This isn’t important, just kinda funny.

I want to know what my body is capable of, whether that is getting a six-pack, trying out for American Ninja Warrior, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro without a shirt. My body is the greatest gift I have ever received, I don’t know if there is a conscious source of this gift but I am still going to try and respect it, care for it, and take it to the limits. It would be a shame to go to waste because I don’t want to be uncomfortable for 4.7% of my day.

I want to live. I love life and to get the most out of this (probably) one life then I need to suck it up and go for a run, lift some weights, and practice yoga. Very few things are within my sphere of control but, to some degree, my body is.

As I think about it, this love of life is really a big part of a lot of my identities. I’m a vegan because I love life and don’t want non-human animals to suffer or die for my pleasure. I’m an atheist (partially) because I love this life and want to make the most out of this one existence, looking towards an afterlife would hold me back. I’m an anarchist because I see the state as the largest threat to and violator of life and freedom would expand life. Part of why I’m polyamorous and pansexual and a psychonaut and kinky is because I want to taste and experience love and intimacy and reality in as many forms as possible.

So, that is why I run and lift and suffer. That’s why I pay money for someone to push me beyond my comfort zone or why I sign up to run with strangers at the buttcrack of dawn. Because in those moments I experience life and I expand my potential for more life in the future. And damn it, I love life.

If you have a question or comment feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi

PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

One More Try…

My life, and particularly the last six months, is littered with abandoned projects. I’ve started everything from dancing poi to training for a marathon to learning German to woodworking and I’ve given up on every project. I’ve read self-help books about becoming financially secure, more artistic, and a multi-orgasmic man; but once I complete the book I have never stuck with the programs that they outline. I always quit. My steam runs out. The novelty of a new project becomes nothing more than a chore. Every. Damn. Time.

In fact, the only real lifestyle change that I’ve made in my life is becoming vegan and that still requires constant work and temptation avoidance. This new habit has only been successful for me because I have three pillars that encourage success: mind, body, and community. I see minimizing suffering as an ethical issue (mind), cutting out meat and dairy is a healthy choice (body), and I have a partner who is also vegan and we keep each other accountable (community).

So, given my success rate of about 1%, it would make sense to just give up. Right? I mean, who wants to keep betting on someone who has such a history of embarrassing failure and mental weakness? I guess I do because I keep finding new projects that I want to do and new ways to experiment with my body and mind. I’m just going to keep trying to be better, but hopefully

I’m just going to keep trying to be better, but hopefully, I can take what I’ve learned from my success and apply it to my new projects. I need to find a way to link mind, body, and community into learning Spanish, the harmonica, the Hof method, writing another novel, and physical fitness. I need new projects to have its tentacles in every part of my being. I am not successful when I compartmentalize things, I want my very soul to envelop my projects.

Basically, I’m going to keep pressing on until I die. I’d rather my life be a graveyard of failures than one of paths untrodden.

As always, if you’ve got a random question or comment that you’d like me to address feel free to send me an anonymous message at www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH 🙂

But, what if it sucks?

I was recently SnapChatting with a friend and former colleague of mine when the subject of sex came up. The fact that the conversation went that direction is not really much of a surprise. She and I have a flirtatious history and many people (including us) thought that we would hook up at some point. But, alas, circumstances never really matched up for us bang but we remain good friends (and still occasionally sext).

As we discussed whether we would eventually hook up (I think it is likely) we talked about whether it would be good or not and, in particular, what would happen to our friendship if the sex was bad. I don’t think it would be bad… we are both friendly, generous, fun-loving people… but if it was bad I don’t think that would be a big deal. A bad sexual experience is something that we would just laugh about because our self-confidence isn’t based on something with so many unknown variables like a great sexual experience. A friendship that can’t handle bad sex or the awkwardness that comes from getting naked together isn’t a very strong friendship.

Besides, it probably wouldn’t be bad. Realistically, I don’t think it would be mind-blowingly great either. People (at least in my experience) are generally kind of awkward and weird the first time they hook up. There is an excitement in exploring a new body and new sensations, but there is also a lack of knowledge about what will pleasure the person. There is a learning curve that doesn’t exist with a regular partner. I think sex with my partner is amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for a new experience (luckily, I don’t have to) but new experiences also bring variety and a fresh perspective.

The truth is, if/when she and I hook up it’ll probably be “pretty good”. Our minds tend to live in extremes, everything will be absolutely terrible or absolutely wonderful, but reality is kind of mediocre. We put special events like sex, weddings, and vacations on this pedestal that can’t help but be a bit of a letdown when our fantasies collide with reality. And we assume certain terrible things will destroy our lives, whether that be the death of a family member, losing your job, becoming paralyzed, etc. but we actually recover quickly if we allow ourselves too. That is part of why I have found so much strength in mindfulness meditation and the Stoic philosophy, they allow me to live in the moment and see reality for what it is, and to only worry about what is under my control.

But, maybe the sex would suck. Maybe it would be terrible. Maybe neither of us feel a lick of pleasure or joy or satisfaction. Instead, we fumble around uncomfortably and lose all sexual desire for each other. Well, that would be okay. She is a dear friend and I’m not keeping in touch with her as a sort of investment where I expect sex later. Nobody is a sexual Roth IRA that you plug time into monthly and expect to withdraw an orgasmic payoff down the road. If the sex is bad, we will laugh about it, drink a beer, and go about our lives with one less thing to be curious about. It is better to have a few bad experiences than spend your short life wondering “what if”.

Hey! I’m always looking for things to write about. Have you got a question or comment for me? Feel free to submit anonymously to my SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). No subject is off limits (just see some of my previous questions here to get a feel for what people ask about… it is mostly sex)