I had brunch with my handful of female friends a while back, something we do much too infrequently. we are connected through former employment and our children's schools, and the seven of us bring amazingly different backgrounds and life experiences together in a beautifully successful, crazy quilt kind of way.
two of us are from michigan, two have lost sons, one has lost a husband. five of us worked for the same company years ago, and four of us have children who have attended the same schools. two of us married boys they dated in high school, and one is currently dating a boy she went to the prom with. one just returned to college, three have graduate degrees, and between us we've given birth to nineteen children. one has a sister with addiction issues, and one has an ex-husband with addiction issues.
while we are all healthy, a few of us walk, a few run, a few own bikes, only one of us is as committed to cycling as I am. yep, that would be me.
one of us has a son who died of an oxycontin overdose five years ago.
his mother has fought for years now to spread the word about this dangerous drug, to warn others, and to have oxycontin banned.
so some of our conversations are about addiction.
and at brunch, it turned to other kinds of addictions, and suddenly I was addicted to cycling.
now, certainly, people can say that, think that, even believe that.
I can get defensive, I can agree with it, or I can try to put it in perspective by understanding their perspective as one who doesn't live inside my skin.
I begin with a definition of addiction. the following is the most relevant one I could find, as most definitions focus on the use of drugs or other habit forming, harmful substances:
a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user themselves to their individual health, mental state, or social life. (the infamous wikipedia.)
so . . . compulsion? well, I do feel compelled to move. (I think we're supposed to do that. doctors tell us to, and God gave us all those muscles and capabilities for a reason.) I just happen to like to move on a bicycle as opposed to walking or running. but I also love my books and my couch.
harmful consequences? like . . .? a healthy heart? toned muscles? a boosted metabolism? not sure I can find a harmful consequence. I manage to balance responsibilities and social activities with my cycling. and my mental state is mostly improved by biking.
some say we get addicted to the endorphins, and push ourselves to keep experiencing that high.
well . . . I think I grew up learning that a "natural high" was what we were to reach for, to "get high on life" as opposed to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, and on and on.
I've stated this before, and I still hold it to be true: I am not addicted to cycling, nor am I even obsessed with it. I am someone who finds peace, joy, and a way to be healthy, all on my bicycle.
and on those days (weeks) when the phone doesn't ring, the editors don't respond, and orders for my work are nonexistent, riding my bicycle is a way to keep my sanity.
I train hard for the events I choose to participate in, and I love feeling strong and capable, but the meditative aspect of cycling is probably the most important piece of all.
a beautiful bit of advice I once heard was this: don't explain, don't defend.
so to even write about this is difficult, as I don't want to be one who doth explain too much.
I am firmly committed to my mental health, to my physical health, to experiencing joy in our world, and to being a peaceful, loving, helpful member of our shared planet.
riding my bike dovetails perfectly with my goals, and for as long as it brings me health and joy, I will continue to hop on ruby and pedal away.
you can call it addiction if you'd like, or even obsession. but I know the truth about me, and I'm okay with it. I've got a fabulously healthy heart, and I've got my sanity.
works for me.