Dave Moulton

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In the Dumpster of Life

People email me with all kinds of questions about bikes and I have to admit I know a lot, but not everything.

Someone might find a frame in the dumpster and email me pictures asking if I know what it is. I may know, I may not, I may offer an educated guess.

When looking for answers, concentrate on what you already know, not on what you don’t know. When you pull a frame from the dumpster look at the dropouts. Are they forged steel like Campagnolo? If so, it is probably a quality frame. If the dropouts are stamped from sheet steel, it is of lesser quality.

The exception would be, if it were an antique, pre dating forged dropouts. (1950s and earlier.) Then you look at the quality of the lug work, etc. You can ask an expert who will give you an educated guess, an opinion.

Nine times out of ten, it is nothing of value, which is why it was in the dumpster to begin with. If a person really needs another beater bike, then build it up and ride it, and enjoy it. Alternatively, give it to someone who needs it more than you do, or throw it back in the dumpster and forget about it.

In life too, it is more important where life's journey has taken us, rather than the point we started. In fact once we have left that point it is of little significance. More important is the direction we continue to steer ourselves on the road of life.

I once knew a young man who didn’t know who his father was, and was a basket case as a result. His mother wouldn’t tell him and a possible reason was that he was the result of some drunken one night stand and she didn’t know who the father was.

If this was the case then honesty with her son might have been the better course, although not necessarily. Had she been honest, he may have been even more troubled, because now he would know that he could never find the answer. Perhaps that knowledge would have alienated him from the one person who truly loved him, his mother.

Did he really need to know where he came from? He was here on this planet, he was healthy, fit, intelligent, tall, good looking; he had a hell of a lot going for him. Instead, he was a failure in life, and blamed it all on the fact that he didn’t know who his father was.

He would have done better had he concentrated on what he knew. He had a mother who loved him; he had a good education, etc. etc. Instead he was obsessed by the unknown.

My father was the parent from hell; I have written about him here and elsewhere. I turned out all right in spite of this, would I have turned out any better or worse if I had not known who my father was?

Had my father died before I was old enough to know him, I would still be the same person. The path my life took was the direction I decided to travel; it had nothing to do with where I came from, or from where I started.

Some of us are born more privileged than others, our country of birth for a start. But that is like the frame we find in the dumpster. It might be a Charlton or a Colnago, a Huffy or a Hetchins. Build any of them into a bike and they will get you from A to B. Make do with what you have.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but there will always be more questions than answers; some knowledge we seek just for the sake of it. Having certain knowledge does not always improve the quality of our life.

It seems to me knowledge often comes to us on a need to know basis. We might be riding our unknown dumpster bike one day and someone will ride up along side us and say, “I’ve got one of those.”

In the “dumpster” of life, we will find many things; some treasures, some trash. We take what we can use, the rest we discard. Some things we find may appear to be worthless but turn out to be treasures, and vice-versa.

Sometimes we think we have found treasure; we find a job or a relationship and become very excited, only to find later we should have left it in the dumpster.


Footnote: This article was previously used, but I recycled it, edited and reworked it. In other words I pulled it from my dumpster of old posts, because it was worth another look.


Reader Comments (4)

Good post Dave. I am currently in the process of recovering from a serious illness which has left me pretty much house bound for the last 3 years and I am constantly having to re assess lifes goals and questions. Thanks for the post keep up the good work.


July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Lamb

"Make do with what you have."

Really glad you recycled this post.

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Excellent. Glad you pulled it out.

July 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGerry

A fine piece.

July 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRider
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