What about the other birds then?
I was speaking to my colleague the other day (well, gossiping more like) about the petrol price increase and what our management was going to do about it. We were generally upset that the higher management is refusing to increase the mileage claim amount in relation to the hike percentage. He's summary to the issue was simple "they won't budge to our needs because they are given petrol cards and hence not affected. and they are all of the same mind... you know... birds of a feather"
which made me wonder, i am not of the same feather, but i am of the same forest, why am i to be discriminated? surely i have an ecology contribution to the system.
over the month i pondered on his point "birds of a feather". i started noticing that this point applies to everything we do in life, including triathlons and weekend rides.
how many of us can honestly say we do not discriminate our friends in this circle? ok, perhaps discriminate is a bad word to use, let me rephrase the question: how many of us can honestly say we do not categorise our friends in this circle?
everyone does: the speed demons, the siput girls, the ever-sweeper etc.
nothing wrong there. and we love our friends regardless of the category we place them in.
however, discrimination i feel comes to play when friends are not in the same category as the 'main flock'.
of late, even the friendly cycling group pcc has lost its niche as your 'perfect cycling partner'. when i first started, pcc was fondly known as the 'le tour de fat farm'. famous for its easy routes, great rides and fantastic eating experience. every ride was centered around where was the best place to eat what. within pcc, we had the fast boys in front, the leisure riders in the middle and the newbies behind with the ever trusty sweeper.
to other clubs like p2k and bike pro, pcc were the underdogs and not to be taken seriously. while it is impressive how pcc has evolved in the past two years, it is sad to know it is no longer unique as it once was. it now breeds speed demons and strong mutants, all very similar to the birds over at p2k and bike pro.
of course it is not in my position to say whether pcc has evolved for the better or for the worse, but i do know that it is no longer the 'perfect cycling partner'. it shows less empathy for new riders or slow seasoned ones. it has also developed a hint of arrogance of how far it has evolved into.
all well justified i'm sure because it is the hard work of the leaders and the frequent flyers of pcc to be faster, better, stronger. we are also no longer the fat farm, which i'm sure is great news to many who see the term as an insult.
but really to me, pcc was the 'perfect cycling partner' because it housed a forestry of birds: big ones, small ones, sleek ones, colourful ones, nutty ones and they all sang a different tune: chirpy and sharp, low and sexy, even god awful screeching. you would imagine with such unorganised tunes, it would be chaotic but no... any new bird, young or experienced that flew into the pcc forest would find a circle of same feathered friends that they can sing together.
it was harmonious. it was the heart of pcc.
today i am sadden that the birds sing the same song as other clubs. it sings of speed, and distance and how only great birds do great things. it sings of competition and without intend, alienates the minority birds. these are not necessarily new birds, just birds that do not sing the same tune. it is as if the main flock birds have grown in such numbers that other birds either have to sing the same way, or move out of the forest.
step back before i continue: i'm not imposing the main flock birds are snobs, merely the fact that minority birds are constantly pressured to be accepted by singing to the main flock tune.
it's really not the main flock's fault. it's the weakness of the minority bird.
let me explain: i am a minority bird.
while i think i am well liked by all birds in the forest, at heart, i am a minority bird. minority in the sense that i'm relatively a seasoned rider but never considered myself a speed demon. never been classified as one either. just occasional spats of speed. other than that, i'm pretty much on my own.
even in triathlons, i am a minority bird. i'm not exactly new.. but i'm not exactly a top 10 finisher either.
i have to admit i have been upset about main flock birds asking me to join them on the higher branches of the forest. upset because i feel pressured to feel belong.
then i realise i play a very important role in the forest's ecosystem.
if you think you are a minority bird like me, here are two main things to think about and hopeful you too will not be pressured into joining the main flock birds:
1. if everybody is as fast, how do we have greatness?
think about this. if we are all main flock birds, able to deliver the same amount of energy and distance, how are we going to brag or admire anybody? we'll all be the same. at triathlons, we will all finish the same and the podium will overflow with people taking turns to receive their gold medal. in fact, we will all be 'normal'. nobody will shine. and since nobody will be last and have a great story of determination to tell, we will lose inspiration and soul too.
2. if everybody was a main flock bird, where's the melody?
an orchestra is never built on a single musical instrument. it needs a range of different sounds and rhythm to make something magical and memorable. a piano solo may sound impressive, but the whole orchestra is what makes it great.
so back to my point about my contribution to this ecosystem as a minority bird.
if i was as great as the main flock, i will not be inspired to write this blog which in turn has inspired many.
if i was as great as the main flock, i will not be able to speak and share experiences that newbies can relate to. hence, they will think you must be great in order to join a triathlon. on hindsight, they may be less competitors! but that's not the point here...
if i was as great as the main flock, i would not have understood what many other minority birds feel and therefore lose out on a lot of soul.
my contribution to the ecosystem is to provide an avenue for slower season riders or newbies to build the courage and inspiration to challange no one else but themselves.
my contribution to the ecosystem is to provide support and encouragement to other minority birds by saying "hey, you know what, forget what the other birds are singing. what do you feel like singing?"
and i know there are some key minority birds out there.
like nabil when he was actively riding in pcc. he was the ever protective and steady sailboat. very reliable and definitely sang his own song. although he was normally the sweeper, he never lost out on respect from other riders. in fact i think we respected him most because he always ensured nobody was left behind and everybody was safe. a very responsible role and no 'flimsy' main flock bird can handle.
so if you are indeed a minority bird like me. do not be ashamed and do not be upset and succum to peer pressure as i once have.
you should realise that your contribution to the ecosystem is very important. do a self check, ask yourself "if i am not a main flock bird, what is my contribution to the ecosystem?". don't be afraid to ask friends close to you as you will be surprised how much you actually mean to the forest without changing the type of bird you are..
i mean, if every bird in the forest sang the same song in the same tune... it would be a very plain and boring forest, wouldn't it?