Friday, September 26, 2008


this morning I tried to keep count of how many oncoming cars dimmed their brights for me, and how many didn't. I failed miserably, but arrived at a guestimate, which I place at 80 percent. and I smiled at every one of those light-dimming drivers. my guess is that they didn't see my smile, but that's okay, hopefully they felt my appreciation, or just added their action to their list of "nice things I did today."
sometimes oncoming headlights blind me completely. and then I operate on blind (no pun intended, or on second thought, maybe this is where it originated...) faith and complete trust. which sometimes just stinks. be it the angle of the road, or the power of the light, or the height of the vehicle: there are times when I cannot hide from that light and it completely eliminates my ability to see a thing. except this beautiful bright aura that surrounds me, which would be kind of cool except for the fact that I'm not cycling in a vacuum. I am cycling on a semi-smooth asphalt surface that has bumps and lumps and potholes and manhole covers and you-know-what-all-else since you read my list.
these headlights pass fairly quickly, this is true, and it's usually a brief enough period that my faith (and luck) carry me through. however, after the car has passed I enter a period of readjustment that necessitates just a little lengthening of my faith. for I cannot see, still, even though the lights are gone. what I see are spots and halos and drifting white particles that only gradually reunite into recognizable outlines and shapes. this can take 5 seconds, or it can take 15. which, if I'm traveling at my average uphill speed of say, 11 mph, would be about 80 to 240 feet of travel during which I cannot truly see reality. (yes, I had to use a calculator, and yes, I had to check my work twice because it seemed too much distance to cover in 5 seconds. let me know if you get a different answer, and I'll hand over my math credentials.)
my point: there is a period of visual readjustment after being temporarily blinded by headlights.
where I'm headed with this: when big and beautiful, bright and shining wonderful things happen to us, we are momentarily blinded, and then we have to readjust. this takes time. and reality is perceived a little differently during that time.
as I was thinking of this while riding this morning, the story of Icarus came to mind. if you don't know or remember, Icarus was the son of Daedalus, the well known and respected Athenian architect, sculptor, and inventor. after building the infamous Labyrinth to trap the Minotaur, Daedalus fell out of favor with Minos and had to escape. to do so, he built wings of wax for his son Icarus and for himself, with which they could fly to freedom. he warned Icarus that flying too near the sun would result in a melting of the wings, which would cause them to fall to their deaths. Icarus was enthralled with the experience of flying, however, and flew too close to the sun. his wings melted, and he fell into the sea and drowned.
when headlights blind me, there is a momentary thrill, as I'm encompassed in this glowing light and cycling without knowledge of where I'm going. it's as if I'm flying, as if my connection to reality and earth has been severed. but along with the thrill comes fear. I cannot see where I'm going.
I don't believe Icarus felt fear until the moment he realized the wax was gone, the feathers were gone, and all that he was flapping were his arms.
I suppose I'll never be a mythical creature, which is probably best. I have my human flaws, but hopefully none will result in my tragic death.
so I will continue to experience temporary blindness when headlights drill into me, and I will have that period of readjustment; I'll experience my brief moment of thrill and my longer moment of terror, and then I'll rely on my faith, once again, to get me through.

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