A few weeks ago I started riding my bike again. I have a long history of, let's say, resistance to the whole cycling thing. That would be putting it mildly. Long story, not very interesting, but I want you to know I had vowed never to ride again.
But this year I decided I'd go once, just for 20 minutes or so, and then see if I wanted to go again.
I'm not in any kind of shape to be riding. It's been years since I've had to pedal. The trails near my home are relatively flat; nevertheless I'm working hard and gearing down, even on the gentlest of slopes. I'm very slow. The joggers are faster than I am. I hate that.
I wanted to go again. And again. And again. And then the other day, as I was riding, I noticed the presence of something great - I think it was joy. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what it was. Joy.
What a surprise.
How did that happen, you ask? Here's what I came up with:
1. I decided to ride alone. When I ride with my husband, I'm attuned to him instead of me. He's stronger, faster, more experienced, and in better shape overall. When I ride with him I automatically compare myself to him. I focus on how much I suck compared to him. That's never good.
2. I decided to start where I am and do what I need to do. If I need to gear down, I gear down. If I need to rest, I rest. I decided to accept myself, without judgment, just as I am, instead of be disappointed in what I am not. And I refused to wonder how silly I must look to everyone else on the trail.
3. With all of that mental nonsense out of the way, I'm free to experience what riding my bike is all about - the satisfaction of propelling myself forward on the strength of my own legs, the sights and sounds of the trail, the power of conquering something hard, the exhilaration of flying downhill.
4. I cleared the way for the joy that's always available to me when I get out of my head and into the present - the present moment, the present season, the present temperature, the sound of the birds and the spin of the wheels, the lifesaving presence of my own breath, the burn in my legs, the wind on my face, the blue sky, the green grass.
I got out of my own way and look what I found - joy.
Now that's something.