Monday, October 22, 2012

finding your tribe

I've always had this thing about not fitting in.  I've never felt "normal," and have always wondered what it would be like to be like "everyone else."
I don't want to be different (though at times I've certainly wished to be so) because I'm pretty darn used to being me and would hate to have to adjust to being someone else, but I accepted years and years ago that I am simply different.
my friend kathryn, in talking about connecting with other people, uses an expression I love, finding your tribe.  I love believing that I have a tribe, that I come from a people like me, that I'm not alone.  somewhere out there--spread out, few and far between, wherever they are--my fellow tribe members exist, living their lives, possibly with a similar little ache deep within to find and connect with others of the same.

this is why I wave at all the other cyclists I see out there.

yep.  because I figure, at some level, these people are in my tribe.  for them to be out there, riding their bicycles up and down a canyon, they must feel a similar pull to the one I feel.  deep within their dna must be a similar coding to mine, one that says go out, be in nature, push your body, feel the power, the communion, the joy of it all.  
I feel this kinship, I acknowledge this similarity, I honor those common traits and desires and dreams we share, and I wave to them to say yes, I belong to your tribe.  

once back home and showered, dressed in street clothes, at work, we may have little in common.  we might be hard-pressed to find shared roots or paths.  but it's likely we will connect, always, in that desire to pedal, to climb, to be in the midst of trees and dirt and sky and wind.  fellow members of my cycling tribe will always receive a wave, a lifting and lowering of the head, a nod to the fact that we share a common thread that will always, forever, connect us in a way more beautiful than we'll ever now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

canyons and cookies

last saturday, for a number of unimportant reasons, I decided to ride up two canyons, first one, then another.
city creek became the first, and I wanted millcreek to be the second.  however, as the snow level was 8000', the sun was hiding itself behind a solid bank of gray clouds, and I got chilled descending city creek in the rain, I decided to save narrow, shaded, steep millcreek canyon for another day.  instead, emigration became canyon number two.
by the time I finished city creek, pedaled back across the northeastern foothills, said goodbye to john (who voted that one canyon was enough), and approached the mouth of emigration, I had warmed back up and wasn't ready to let my riding day be over.
but then something mysterious happened . . . about a mile up the canyon, the "Idonwanna"s hit.  Idonwanna be climbing this canyon, I'd rather be done.  I donwanna keep riding, I wanna go home.  my legs hurt, I'm tired, I donwanna.  
for a solid mile I tolerated my complaining self, trying to convince it that I was happy to just be outside, doing something.  suggesting to it that it should be grateful it's healthy enough to ride, that it should be grateful for decent riding weather, that it was really just a small chunk of the day.
I donwanna, my legs hurt, I donwanna go all the way up this stupid canyon.
then I tried bribery:  think of the yummy cookies waiting for you at home, remember you get to go out to dinner tonight.
I still donwanna.  pedal pedal pedal, heartrate climbing, pedal pedal pedal.
it took another two or three miles before I stopped complaining, whining, moaning to myself.  determination won, became stronger, and helped me reach the point where it became slightly more than just a challenge and slightly less than pure fun.  I kept pedaling.

so here's the thing.  it would have been so easy to not ride that second canyon.  first of all, to not even start it, and second, to have turned around a mile up when the Idonwanna's were screaming inside my head.  but I stuck it out, and reaped the rewards of the beautiful scenery, the joy of the descent, the extra eighty minutes of fresh fall air, and the extra cookies I got to eat when it was all over.  at the end, I couldn't stop thanking myself for being the jerk that wouldn't let me turn around.

stick-to-it-iveness doesn't come naturally;  it's something one cultivates.  it's a part of commitment and determination, of character.  it's what allows others to depend on you.
and it doesn't come easy.  I battle myself constantly, but have learned over all these many years on earth that I am a better person for not letting myself slide.
or rather, for only letting myself slide after I've climbed enough first.

so the moral of the story is this:  if you say you're going to climb two canyons, then climb two canyons.
and then enjoy your cookies.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

my armchair

it's possible that there is no better way to listen to andrea bocelli that to do so (via your ipod) while
riding a bicycle, cresting a hill, on a 67 degree day in october where not a single cloud dots the sky and the trees on the hillsides below are cinnamon and scarlet and ochre and fluttering their raiment for the world to see and hear.
quite possible.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

moving tops

yesterday in my writer's blog, susanimhoffbird, I wrote about the final mile (1 mile to go).
today I decided that what I wrote was wrong.

well, perhaps not wrong, but limited in scope.

what I wrote about was that last mile of any journey, how long and difficult it can feel, especially when you're uncertain of when it will really end.  but that it's vital, and beautiful, and I am the proud owner of a hot pink sign with big white letters stating "1 Mile to Go" and a sketch of a biking chick underneath.

today, while vigorously pedaling my bicycle up the last 25 feet before cresting little mountain, I was hit with the next understanding:  the top keeps moving.
peaks are reached and left behind, and new peaks arise in the distance.
as miley cyrus sings, it's not really about reaching the top, it's the climb.
it's the climb.
it's every one of those 1000 miles, it's the journey just completed, it's the journey yet to come.
just because I only have 1 mile to go on this path doesn't mean I'm done.
after this will come another.
then another.
and the last mile will appear in my life again and again.

I cried.
while pushing with everything I had as I reached the peak, while realizing this was by no means my last peak, while being hit (graced) with the understanding that climbing is what I do.  I seem to want to keep working, striving, pushing, ascending, looking for the next mountain out in the distance.

however, I also like descending, I also like knowing that those 1000 miles are behind me, that the peak is in my past, who I was, what I've accomplished and gained. therefore, I think today's insight was simply a reality check.  yes, I might be on the last mile, but it's not my first "last mile," and it's certainly not my last.  it's just one more leg of a lifetime's journey, one that will hopefully allow me a new view and a pause before I regroup and head for the next hill.