My mind often wanders when cycling. I enjoy the solitude of cycling solo and the conversation and company cycling with others. This past week my pal Greg and I spent considerable time in conversation on our week long bike ride. Here are some random thoughts that crossed my mind.
Life is challenges
Everyone has their comfort zone, that feel good place where living is easy. I strive to live on the edge of my zone, the place where I challenge myself and grow. One thing I like about bike tours is that the unexpected is just around the corner challenging my zone.
Two challenges were memorable on my days in the Inner Banks. Winds, the curse for cyclists, were particularly strong every day. There were headwinds (bad), crosswinds (annoying), and tailwinds (good). I had to cross ominous bridges with steep inclines over open windy water. I made the climbs. Wind and climbs challenge me, but I stretch my abilities and gain more confidence when I tackle them.
Dog life lessons
I encountered a man walking his dog in Farmville, Virginia. The dog was walking with a wheeled contraption holding up his back legs. I asked the stranger about his dog’s situation. The dog had been hit by a car and underwent surgery and rehabilitation. Shortly after, he jumped out of a truck and broke his back.
That would be heartbreaking. The owner researched mobility devices and located the one the dog was wearing. The dog took on a new life over the past year. He runs and is eager to go on a daily walk. The dog is unaware of any limitations. I reflected on how happy the owner and dog were as we cycled past. Life delivers unfortunate circumstances. You can choose to dwell in the pain of the past or choose to move on to a better life. A good life lesson learned from a dog.
Life isn’t passing
The second peloton of the morning screamed pass us. Greg laughed that we never pass anyone. It is amusing and the truth. Let’s see. We don’t have the lightest and fastest bikes. We are older and not of the same body type as those cyclists. We don’t look as damn good as those people. I’ll just leave it at that.
There are different tribes of cyclists. Cyclists in my tribe cycle for their health and wellness in a social setting. I am also a member of the bicycle touring tribe. A shared characteristic of these tribes is that the bicycle is a vehicle to explore new places and meet people. It’s a social style. I may not pass many people. I get to where I am going and expand my horizon on my bike.
This life, your life
An acquaintance was fighting his final battle with cancer when I set out on this bike tour. An excellent storyteller, he shared his cancer journey through a Caring Bridge journal. The last few months have been very insightful. He focused on his imminent death and it’s meaning in relation to living.
He died while I was on this trip. Earlier this year, I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving an F*ck. One takeaway from that book was that we leave behind a conceptual self, what others learn from our life and what impact we leave on the world. His journaling deeply impacted my view of life and death.
In one of the final journal posts, a friend shared a very poignant view of life and death to my dying friend. I am sharing a few sentences that say it all. “Life is meant to end. At the same time, the fear and anxiety that accompany the anticipation of death, the desire to hold on to life as we know it, all serve to instill in us a sense of how important life is. This life, your life.”
Is it worth
I spin through emails and social media during the quiet times in my tent in the evenings. I browse Quora, a question and answer website. I enjoy the concept of being a member of a community that engages in conversation and learns from others.
Quora poses questions that others ask you to answer. I have seen a trend of people prefixing questions with “Is it worth…” Many times the question asks if is worth doing something or making a change at age 50, 60, 70, etc. My response is generally something similar to “Sure, You are breathing. It’s worth it.”
I am approaching my 65th birthday. My view of life changed in October 2005 recovering from a heart attack and triple coronary bypass. I knew life had to change. Fourteen years later, I reflect on the changes made over the years. At that point in, my life, I could not imagine myself where I am today.
When you are tempted to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”, know that the answer is “Yes!” It was worth giving the dog with a broken back a second chance. It was worth my cancer ravaged friend sharing insights on death and its place in life. It was worth making changes in my life and continuing to challenge myself to make more changes.
This life, your life.
Good blog, Tom!
Really enjoy your commentary