Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Today's ride...

I went on a day trip today with just me, Shadowfax (my bike), and my itunes. I started on my front porch at around 11 and finished at Eli's house in Bolivar a good seven and a half hours later. Long rides like that are really interesting for me. How hard can I push myself? How much can I make it hurt before I have to stop? What beautiful scene is around the next bend? I never take large highways. They aren't nearly as gorgeous. The theme of the day was forests and fields. Oh, and roadkill with a smell that nearly knocked me off of my bike. Anyway, I had some interesting thoughts along the way.

Around mile 65 is when I started to have trouble pushing up the hills. First off, I think I don't really learn anything unless it hurts. That's kind of an interesting perspective, but when it's easy and fun, I just enjoy it. I don't take time to analyze it and learn from the situation at all. When the going gets tough, when things are no longer smooth sailing, is when I learn and grow. This is evident in my bike ride today, and looking back on life I see it as a reoccuring motif.

When it started to get hard, I tried to focus on every detail of what was going on around me. I didn't want to forget anything about the feeling of almost giving up, but pushing to the top of the hill. I wanted to be fully aware of my surroundings, of how I was breathing, of what I was thinking. I wanted to be fully alive and mindful so I could claim victory over self-defeat. It was wonderful. (and wonderfully painful. The more I think about it, the more I think I really am a masochist)

I realized the importance then of living in the moment. On a very surface level, it just makes life easier. Taking life one moment at a time and living in the now reduces the complication. You're here now. How complicated is that? It gives you a certain amount of freedom to realize that you're alive and capable of action right now, at least for me. If I was thinking about how much further I had to go or how far I'd gone, I lost my ferver. It's easy to get down if you are living in the future. You can resign yourself to less than you're capable if you say, "well, I've come this far and I have a lot more to go. That's good enough, right?" But living in this very moment keeps you going.
I just need to keep pedaling. Just keep breathing. Just focus on this hill right here. We'll think about the next one when we get there...

Then my taoist side came in. I realized with my pain and with my focusing on myself that I hadn't lifted my head in quite some time and I was missing out on everything around me. When I finally did, I was astounded. Missouri is a beautiful place. Did you know that? It's easy to think about it being mundane and boring, but if you lift your head every now and then, it can really suprise you. I had an inner monologue with myself over the nature of my ride then.

I set out to get to Eli's house and see the countryside on the way, but which is more important? Is it the end that matters or the way? I had a hard time when I was focusing on how much further it was to get to the end, and focusing on the way made it easier, but it didn't make the end less important. Perhaps in that way, the end is just as important as the way, but keeping yourself mindful of the present makes the end easier to achieve. Keeping yourself focused on the end makes you miss out on all the beauty that is surrounding you at every moment. Just an observation from my experience today.

I'm supposed to make the same trip home tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it. It's going to end up being over 160 miles round-trip and my body is ill-equipped to handle such a ride presently. Hmmmm. I guess I need to give it a shot. How am I going to get my body prepared for victory if it doesn't fail first? That could be extrapolated into an interesting topic in itself, but one for another day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You think good.

Even though it didn't help you learn via failure, I'm glad I was able to give you a lift. It was the highlight of my day. :)