Biking is about rhythm and flow. It’s the wind in you face and the challenge of hammering up along a hill. It’s the reward at the top and the thrill of a high-speed descent. Biking lets you come alive in both body and spirit. After awhile the bike disappears beneath you and you feel as if you’re suspended in midair-
Flipping through some old photo albums while spring cleaning our spare bedroom – yes digital aged kids, photo albums! I stumbled upon a picture of myself thirteen years ago. In the background is my beloved mountain bike, a Cannondale “F” something or another, the same bike I ride while walking our beagle after dinner. Looking at the picture I recall that frustrating, exhilarating process that is learning to enjoy riding after suffering though a series of injuries. I needed a lot of help back then and still do to this very day. Sprinkle in a ton of support and patience from others to get me to this point in life – Close family and friends, caring but rigid doctors, rehab therapist, yoga teachers, open-minded “folks” who listened to my quibbles – All helped me
walk ride a path towards “whatever” I suppose.
A bright cloudless summer day in Upstate New York; my patient father watching me taking my first solo ride on my battle torn BMX bike, as I wobbled and bobbled right, then left, trying to find that savory spot of – Balance.
I was deathly afraid of falling on the asphalt hill in front of our house. So I would try riding into the grass when I started to lose my balance. It would hurt less if I fell in the lush green grass, right? Shortly after an early morning shower, I got my seven year old legs pumping away as fast as I could coming down from the top of the hill. Rain splatter streaming from the front tire onto the down tube as I picked up speed, as I neared the intersection at the bottom of the slick hill, the handle bars started to shake, and I lost control trying to make it over and through the inviting lawn to my right. I promptly keeled over and slid along the greasy asphalt for what seemed like an eternity and smacked hard into the raised curb, completely missing the grass. Crying with road rash down the left side of my body, bleeding knees and elbows … I limped to sit on the curb to gather myself.
A few days later I was pedaling my bike in varying circles at the top of this very same hill. Suddenly, a moment of unbridled bliss washed over me, I felt myself balancing, not shaking, not thinking about the newly formed scabs irritating my skin as I effortlessly pedaled. I was being, I was riding my bike without a worry in the world!
Not much has changed over the years, there will be lots of falls, bruised knees, bleeding elbows still to come. But eventually there is – Balance. It may be very small and fleeting, although it will happen.
There are an infinite number of reasons to say no. Instead, try to focus on one good reason to say yes-
This weeks post will focus entirely on two harmless letters: N and O … And why it’s extremely difficult to put them forth in good faith, in a manner that honors and respects our true spirit. A little context is in order before we begin. This past Saturday my plans went sideways, really quick! My team fell apart at the last-minute for a gravel ride over in Iowa, which we had planned back in January over a few soul warming adult beverages. No biggie, such is the ebb and flow of life when you try to get five dudes together at once, add in work and kids?!? You know how it goes, anyways … A new yoga studio opened up not too long ago in West Omaha that I was curious about trying out. This is where I failed to say “no” for the first time on such a lovely Saturday morning. What do you think when you read “Hot Yoga?” For whatever reason, and maybe what my spirit needed at the time, was a hot vinyasa flow. I could rant about Bikram yoga, but I won’t – not here. I had hot yoga firmly planted in my stubborn mind, until class started that is.
Saying “no” to anyone, about anything, is easily the most challenging part of our lives. Do you like being told no? Do you take comfort in telling someone, maybe yourself, “no?”. We want to avoid the discomfort and the consequences that might come our way for being fully “exposed” in our unwillingness (my stubbornness). Many of us continually strive to be caring and available, and we often find it strenuous to face a situation in which, for whatever reason, we don’t find the willingness, the courage or ability to say “yes” to what is being asked of us.
If we are able to keep our attention focused on attending to what matters most, and keep coming back to that intention, this beautiful “thing” called life may surprise each and every one of us. We begin to hear the needs of our True Spirit more clearly.
When saying no eludes me, however much I am committed to “whatever” … Rather than closing my heart in order to say “No,” which is what I often do, I consciously choose to open my heart wider, in order to actually feel the pain of saying “no” and bear witness to its effect – To honor my true self, to tell the full truth, and to remain present to hear it.
Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future-
” … Of course! Your blog is just another way of saying we all want to live in a hedonic present, a present where everything is easy and we suffer no consequences for making “whatever” choices we make, the moment we make them. If only more people took notice of how unsuccessful and unhappy a life would be, from adopting a living in the present moment only approach. Are we too lost in ourselves to strike a balance!”
Balance from whose perspective? Mine, that dude over yonder, or your own …
Moving forward, one of the main undercurrents to keep in mind as you skim over these posts is: To whom do you owe your greatest allegiance? Do you owe your allegiance to your yoga studio, running club, cycling team, your family, your abusive workout regime?
Life, isn’t just a competition between our now self and our future self. We have for all intents and purposes, an infinite number of future selves, all of whom potentially have competing interests and competing desires.
The question we face when deciding to do “whatever“: Do we abuse our bodies now or save ourselves for the future? Or rather, how much time and energy do we spend now and how much do we save for later in life? In both of these cases, the answer is – It depends … Dude.
Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present-
Note: Over the course of the next few posts, I am going to try to write about – equanimity – Key word being try. Personally, writing and discussing equanimity is tricky and this is where I need your help! I implore you to share your thoughts and insights on this very “tricky” topic. Thank you for your help in advance!
Equanimity is not about being a doormat to others, the world. Nor is equanimity suppressing your emotions, your true spirit. So, what the hell is it?!?
Personally, as defined by yours truly – Equanimity means maintaining mental calmness, composure, an evenness of temper, during stressful situations. There are, throughout my day, certain folks or situations that trigger within me a deep-rooted sense of anger. Which, makes it rather difficult for me to be the cool dude people often think I am? What stops me from choke slamming an ignorant driver? Lashing out verbally at a yoga instructor who leaves a tired class in high plank, only to lament how tired and sore he is? Saving the best example for last … Thinking you are having a pleasant conversation with someone, only to find out they were not listening, enamored with their gadget instead.
I have found equanimity to be my most calming state of mind, especially when interacting with people who rub me the wrong way and push my “buttons“.
If you want to make it through the day with an inner sense of grace and calm, equanimity is going to take you a lot farther than hostility. Let’s play around with the wording … If you want to make it through a challenging power yoga class? Allow equanimity to guide you, instead of being a chump, a whining chump who spews hate and hostility having to do a plank for two minutes.
The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter-
*I’m writing with a broad perspective this morning. I do so because I may have unearthed a major obstacle along my path in life and maybe along your path as well … *
Quick question: What does it truly mean to be patient as defined by you, not defined by a self-help book, nor by a friend or coach – You?
In the still, frigid morning light, I tried to untangle the meaning of patience and its assorted complexities. What does it mean to find peace in the very moments that intrinsically seem to bring frustration to me? To show compassion to other drivers on the road who are in more of a hurry than I am? How does it feel when we stop rushing towards an unknown future,instead, turning our appreciation to life unfolding in front of our very eyes?
Impatience, is not a part of myself I’m particularly proud of. I am far more patient with the many inspiring people in my life, than I am with my own self. It takes far too much effort and energy to have patience with my broken down body, to forgive myself for all the ways I am not perfect and believe me, there are many painful war stories to tell – figuratively and literally. Little do those stories matter, my insatiable thirst for instant gratification dictates otherwise.
Patience is a far more difficult than searching for polysyllabic words to describe how I am feeling this morning. Simply, patience is my kryptonite against the irrational demands I place upon myself, each and every day.
I haven’t been patient enough with my blogging thing recently as I have been in the past. I need to step back, step back to listen to the warmth in my heart, that so very often gets rushed and misplaced due to my need to post as often as I do.
I am working on many exciting and cool “things” I believe you will find useful, not only on the mat or out on the trail, but rather more importantly … This “thing” called life.