Thursday, March 26, 2015
If weather was too formidable (which didn't happen often on California's central coast), I spent those same hours alone on my bed, pondering existence and purpose. My cat and dog would often appear and I'd stroke their individual bodies as they curled up beside me. It was comforting to have company, but not have the need to speak.
More time was spent thinking and listening than vocalizing. Innately, I absorbed more than I released nuggets of information.
Many of my acquaintances were quite talkative; more than likely something my subconscious chose as a means of being able to remain capable of ingesting rather than having to entertain. I liked different sorts of people and observed qualities in each that drew my interest. I had smart friends, athletic friends, artistic friends and those who were rebels, or who the adults called "trouble-makers." Occasionally, even quieter kids caught my attention. It was more difficult to have conversation, but I learned much from those who were more conservative with speech, and as a bonus they seemed to naturally understand that talking wasn't a necessity in every circumstance.
We all get older though and changes are a part of aging. Core qualities remained as I entered high school, but I found myself speaking my mind far more frequently. I tested boundaries. Sometimes I said things that made no sense or made me feel inferior. There were days when I felt able to conquer anything, and those that made me wish I were dead. I was sometimes friends with people because other people liked them, and not always because I saw something of quality. I made good decisions and bad - like any teenager.
One thing that didn't change during this time of life was my alone time. It was always valuable to reflect, to wonder and to hope.
As I grew beyond the teen years into adulthood, I began to understand that life was changing. I was expected not to spend so much time daydreaming, but rather to focus on a career and a future. Despite being a bit more combative and rebellious, I'd always been pretty responsible. I could feel that it was no longer acceptable though to spend so much of my day simply thinking. I had to start doing.
Action is, of course, a necessity of growth, but it was tough to leave those hours of future speculation and thought behind. The seemingly frivolous moments became replaced with obsession about my career and where it was going. I put in more hours at work with the hope of getting noticed and perhaps promoted. I concerned myself with how I would pay bills, getting a better car, and filling my closets/cupboards full to their bursting point. I took on unnecessary debt. I no longer seemed to select friends because of their individuality or interest, but rather out of convenience or proximity. It started to feel much more challenging to have quality moments - both alone and with good friends.
In the few free moments that took place, I would find myself wondering where I'd gone wrong. What had happened to me? I'd think back to the days of lying in the grass and staring up at the sky.
One glorious day in adulthood, a bicycle came into my life. I had used bicycles in my youth as a means of transportation, but it had been years since I'd really loved a bicycle and used one on a regular basis. The bicycle was beautiful, and looking back on it now, I realize that it was - at that moment - looked upon as simply another "thing" to be acquired. I had no means of knowing at that time that this lovely steed would bring me far more than something pretty to behold.
As I began to actually use this newly acquired machine, something magical was beginning to take shape. Without the slightest awareness of what was transpiring, those carefree moments of thinking returned. The ability to spend time alone with my thoughts had a place once again. The repetitious pattern of pedaling took on a meditative quality and I had time to contemplate existence and future possibilities.
With that time for processing and pondering back in my life, I realized I was unhappy at work. I had formed a career, but it felt disingenuous. I didn't believe I was fulfilling a purpose, but rather going through the motions - and to what end?
Whether coincidental or not, friends started leaving my life as well. As I had time to understand that I'd surrounded myself with those who brought little to a relationship, they began to fall away. Slowly but surely, the toxins that had built up were vaporizing.
New acquaintances started making themselves known too. We had more in common than not, and they brought positive perspectives regardless of our agreement or disagreement on a given topic. I started having opinions again regarding who I wanted in my life and who I'd rather not allow in - and I realized it was okay to not have friendships with everyone.
To put it simply: I felt better riding a bicycle. I wasn't losing weight and my body didn't seem to be changing, but there was something about daily fresh air, wind in my hair, and the continuous rhythm of the stroke-stroke-stroke motion that allowed me to recapture a lost part of myself. It didn't seem to matter if the ride was just in to town or out on back roads. Being outside and moving was enough.
Bicycles are an interesting machine. They have the power to transport physically, emotionally and mentally. Such simple contraptions, yet if open to the experiences, utilizing one regularly can provide an overall sense of well-being. New or old, shiny and clean, or rusty and squeaky, the cover of the machine has little to do with what is possible.
When I feel troubled or concerned about anything, I take the bike out and pedal the frustrations away. Whether it's the physical work or the time alone that does the most good, I cannot really say with certainty. But I do know that the bicycle has brought me a sense of peace and helped me regain a lost sense of self. For that, I will be eternally grateful.