I concluded today - after two weeks of no bike riding - that riding my bike is the number one stress reliever/mood lifter/mind clearing activity I engage in. It surpasses (and please don’t laugh or judge) sex, cooking, and watching reruns of “Frasier.” Spending time with my grandkids is usually really awesome, but sometimes I leave my daughter’s house needing to de-stress, so technically they don’t qualify. Riding my bike always relieves stress.
On today’s ride, I encountered five new things. 1. A woman riding a horse; 2. A Blue Heron. 3. A couple smacking down a dog toy from a tree branch 10 feet off the ground. They used a very big branch and their Golden Retriever was very anxious to have his toy back. I slowed down on approach, and just as I was going to pass them, the man whacked the branch successfully and all was well in their world; 4. This lovely red mushroom:
And 5. This tree:
I discovered it when I parked my bike on a ride back in May and went hiking down the stream that runs concurrent with the trail. I love the bend of this tree and its moss. I imagined it was the the kind of tree the Victorians leaned against to read “Jane Eyre” or “Age of Innocence.” I visited it again today and thought, ‘Hmmm….I need to bring a book along next time.’
I’m feeling less overwhelmed than I was last week because: A. I discovered once again the importance of a to-do list; and B. Prioritizing. My school schedule is a normal school schedule, but the difference between in-class and online classes is that I have to do the “Xeroxing” myself.
Remember how you used to sit in rows in class and the teacher would hand the first person in the row a pile of papers and he or she would take one and pass it back? In online classes, you have to make your own copies. And not only do you have to make copies, you have to determine what’s relevant. Your in-class teacher always did that for you, right? I don’t know what to learn, so I’m learning it all.
Today I experimented with a bean burger recipe and it turned out…well…not so good. The remnants will become sloppy Joe’s tomorrow. I made hummus, too. But the thing that remains with me today (and is in my head more often than I can say) is what happened 10 years ago.
As I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s CD “The Rising,” I – as millions of us in the U.S. and around the world – remembered the uncertainty, the fear, and the incomprehensible grief and loss and confusion of that day. What stays with me the most is the will and the bravery and the ultimate loss.
I don’t know if we’ll ever wrap our brains around that day. Certainly we’ll never understand it. But what I owe every life lost that day is to appreciate and understand the precarious nature of life. To appreciate a tree, a mushroom, or a bike ride, grandchildren and children, and even people we encounter in traffic. I mean, heck, we’re all trying to live our lives as we know them in this moment, same as the folks who died 10 years ago today in NYC, PA and Washington.
I hope you can value your life, at whatever weight you are, and know that you are loved and would be sorely missed if you weren’t here anymore.
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love