Monday, May 14, 2012

If only Sigmund were here?

Dealing with Post Trans-Iowa Stress Disorder (PTISD).

Norris Hansell famously published his Seven Essential Needs paper in 1967 (later updated to Nine Attachments in 1973). As a young collegian, some thirty years ago, every one of Norris’ words rang true to me and glowed like burning coal pouring off of every page, like it was written in my soul from me to you, Tangled Up in Blue…I digress…Today as I attempt to drag myself out of my bed each morning and face a post T.I. future, I am once again comforted by his prose. It is reassuring to think about Norris in the context of the Trans-Iowa because by applying Hansell’s work to aspects of the Trans-Iowa one can see why it is such a big deal to finish it and such a big disappointment to NOT finish it.  Firstly below are the nine generalized “essential needs” that Hansell maintains each of us must possess in order to live a “self-actualized” or fulfilled life. Below the generalized list, I apply the nine essential needs to the Trans-Iowa (TI) in an effort to persuade my readership that the TI is so important because it complements or follows Hansell’s key principles.
Hansell’s Nine ESSENTIAL Needs or CONNECTIONS (in General)

1.         TO INFORMATION: Everyone needs access to facts about himself and his environment to develop innate potential, live in organized society, maintain mutually fulfilling relationships, and develop a functional self-concept.  Examples are:  knowing how to apply for and perform a job, form and maintain relationships, and take care of oneself physically. All racers need access to facts about route finding. All racers need access to information about where to obtain further supplies. All racers need basic information about battery-life, mileage covered, calories burned etc.  All racers need information about the weather so as to make informed decisions about clothing, fenders, glasses, and a number of other important factors. The “information” needs of the Trans-Iowa far exceed any other race that I have participated in.   As I found out the hard way, one cannot simply rely on others to direct one to the finish line. One needs access to independent information. I really screwed up in this area.  My odometer was not working from about the forty mile mark …no worries until I fell behind a group and was forced to go it alone…

2.        TO A SIGNIFICANT PERSON: Everyone needs an intimate relationship with at least one other person who is nurturing and consistently available, such as a mother, teacher, or close friend. No different down in Iowa.  Finishing the Trans-Iowa for the vast majority of guyz involves teaming up with a partner. The dynamic duo of the Slender Fungus’ Barre and DBD’s Kershaw is an excellent example. 
3.        TO A GROUP: Everyone needs to belong to a least one group where she is perceived as a member, for example, family, work, peer group, or social club. Again to be whole, a guy needs to find a group.  My problem this time down in Iowa was that I could never find the “just-right” group.  In the early morning I tried to stay with the lead group, but got dropped and was forced to ride alone. Then I got picked by various groups, some were too fast and some were too slow.  Or it seemed that if I was feeling good the pace was to slow and vice versa.  The take-home message is “find a group that fits” and stay with it…I’ve learned my lesson; I should stayed with the Lonesome Luddite!

4.        TO A MEANINGFUL ROLE: Everyone needs to perform a positive, meaningful function in relation to another person or group, such as student, foster parent, best friend, citizen, or employee.  Same in Iowa, find a role to play. You could be the navigator, you could be the guy that fixes stuff, you could be the moral support guy, or the comic relief guy.  The point is that you should not just “sit-in” and take a free ride…it don’t work that way in life or in Iowa.
5.        TO A MEANS OF SUPPORT: Everyone needs assured access to money which will provide an adequate standard of living.  Basic needs are met first through the provision of family support, then later through independent means, such as gaining vocational training which can lead to a job. Bring money to Iowa.

6.        TO A SOURCE OF JOY: Everyone needs opportunities to experience joy and happiness, such as participating in traditional holiday rituals, vacations, and play. This is a very special event put on by a very extraordinary guy…Race this thing in a state of wonderment and awe.  I forgot this important “need” and instead lapsed into a downward spiraling dark place full of demonic whiners, complainers, and nerd-do-wells. 
7.         TO A SYSTEM OF VALUES AND MORALS: Everyone needs a value system on which to base decision-making and to give life meaning, as provided by a religious affiliation, personal philosophy, etc. Clarity through suffering is why I do these things. 

8.        HISTORY: Everyone needs personal heritage, or “roots,” to provide important information about identity, well-being, and ethnicity.  These family ties are represented and rekindled through the family tree, photo albums, heirlooms, clan symbols, national flags, personal or cultural heroes, and international ties. This race has the history!
9.        PLACE: Everyone needs an attachment to geographic locals and places with special meaning. People tend to identify themselves by where they grew up, where they’ve been, and where they live now.  Examples are:  a farmer’s attachment to the land; a sportsman’s desire to be in the wilderness; or a city dweller’s loyalty to a neighborhood. This one was a beauty…Bravo Guitar Ted

REFERENCES:  Hansell, N. (1974). The Cyclist-in-distress: On the biosocial mechanisms of adaptation. New York: Behavioral Sciences Press.


  1. Your brilliance once again shines through (shines through what I'm not quite sure yet...) GT would do well to hire you as a spiritual guru for the TI. Next year, just ride with me. We'll get it done.

  2. It made my heart pang. So true, so many things to work on. The fresh gravel beat me to a sour pulp. My skinny tires with high pressure were a bad choice. I am not giving up though. Never.
    yours truly,
    Your presence was a gift.

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