Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's just like riding a bike

I have been putting off writing, mostly because there is so much to catch up on that it seems overwhelming. I'm sure I'll forget at least a few of the funniest stories, and most bizarre circumstances. I may end up just posting little anecdotes from the past few months at random. However it comes out, the story will be pieced together eventually.
I left Nashville almost two months ago now, and spent 3 weeks on the road, wandering through the Midwest, spending lots of time in Denver/Bolder, paying homage to my beloved Sonoran desert, taking a little jaunt down to the Yucatan, and winding up out here in California. When I look for adventure, I always find it. (The thing is- I'm always looking.) Amongst the most interesting stories, the main one involves love. In addition to that, there are nights of sleeping on couches, meeting full fledged Fruititarians for the first time, encountering the Medical Marijuana culture for the first time (so prevalent in Denver-- and as a student of medicinal plants, I have lots to say about that), snowshoeing for the first time, visiting the "red light district" of Dharma Centers (did you know that was possible?), meditating in the Great Stupa, yoga in so many different cities, hot springs and yurts, feeling like a city didn't want me there, being unable to pick up a rental car in Mexico because my credit card didn't have raised numbers, finding a magical island, living in a tent while the nights were freezing cold, being homeless in a cool city, my car dying on the side of the freeway (engine blew a rod; RIP Thel), learning to get around my bicycle, and so on and so on.
The bicycle is really what I sat down to write about. The last time I used a bike for purposes other than leisure was in college, when I rode my bike to classes. It has never, though, been my primary means of transportation. Thankfully, I had lugged a bike my dad let me have all the way across the country on my car. So when my car died, I actually had one (despite having lost a wheel somewhere in Kansas- easily and cheaply replaced). So I've been learning to get around town on it. I'm fine riding a bike in a park, but in traffic I get nervous. It's getting easier every day, as I get used to it. But, there's this certain amount of discomfort involved. For one, my ass hurts. I'm sure that will fade (it's only been a week). Second, my legs get sore easily when I ride a lot that day. I'm not used to that. And it makes riding a little more uncomfortable. But that's not really a big deal. My discomfort is mostly mental. I'm not a very strong rider, so there's a whole lot of people going faster than me, etc., etc. I also don't know my way around, so there's the trying to read street signs and second guessing the way. There's the traffic, which scares me, though luckily there are plenty of bike lanes and bike friendly roads (mostly just not the main road). And for some reason when I'm riding and all these uncomfortable thoughts and experiences come up (the bike line is blocked by construction; I don't know how to jump up a curb; where are we?) and then all these emotions start to stir. It seems just like being on the cushion for me. All this discomfort, and all these emotions rising and falling. Weird things I haven't felt or thought about in years. And the more I resist, the harder it is. I fell off my bike yesterday (no injuries or anything) mostly because I was caught up in an emotion. It's really quite the amazing experience, to have the chance to be mindful while riding. Because that's exactly what it is like. You have to allow whatever experience is happening to just be. You have to stop judging yourself. You have to be gentle with yourself. And let go of all those thoughts. Or else you won't get anywhere. You'll fall off your bike. But when you let it all go, everything is just fine. And there you are. Riding your bike. Instead of the inhale and the exhale, it's the noise of the wheels spinning. And there I am. Right there. Present moment. Only moment.