Crisis? What Crisis?
Today was to be a book-writing day so only photos for the blog, and maybe a bike ride map and stats from Strava and short map video from Relive. As you might deduce, that didn’t happen. I got my walk and yoga in, but not the writing. Then my doctor’s appointment took three hours instead of one, most of it waiting. I was not a very patient patient.
But aches and pains and other challenges have been piling up and plaguing me, making life harder than I want it to be. And having to rely on the public health community clinic safety net meant not skipping the appointment since they’re so hard to get. This delayed the bike ride I was due to go on for my friend’s birthday. But then he had a flat tire, which we fixed. A mile and a bit into the ride, he got another flat. So that was aborted. Which was fine with him because he’s not really much of a rider these days. Someday, maybe.
A much more serious interuption to life has been the rash of six bombings in Austin since March 2. The other day, two guys walking their bicycles hit a trip-wire that detonated a device. They were put in the hospital due to a mad bomber who’s killed two people and injured four others, putting Austinites into a tizzy. But much closer to home, someone I know well landed in the hospital with a potentially serious issue. If I believed in a god/dess (which I don’t, see my post “In Bike I Trust: The Faith of an Agnostic Athiest” for more on that), I’d say that s/he/it was punking me.
But sometimes, things simpy go awry. Still we must try: To get through, beyond and over whatever obstacle is in front of us. Like hills on a bike ride, they test us and if we can survive, they make us stronger. One hopes.
My Clean White Jersey Got Muddy on a Sunny Day
The other day on my bike ride, it was sunny and dry. Until it wasn’t. The clouds opened up and dumped alot of rain and actually hail on us. Friend and I stopped and waited it out at a convenience store, and when the skies cleared up we rode on. A few miles later it was as if it had never rained at all. It’s just a jersey, but it’s MY jersey. I sprayed spot remover on it so I could “Shout it out” and that worked – mostly.
Instead of writing in my book, I write in my blog. Big deal, plans change. Blogging is alot easier in some ways than writing my book. We find a silver lining. These are first world problems. We go with the flow to the best of our abilities. We write a different chapter.
But what about when it’s more serious, when shit really is hitting the fan? Hopefully you’re wearing a poncho when it does. But all joking aside, life is fragile, and we get hurt or sick or worse. And when that happens to us, or people close to us, or even to people we don’t know for whom we have compassion, well, we may still feel as if we have been shat upon by some cosmic creature that is off its leash, fangs out.
Life is Not Fair
Hopefully we come through the other side relatively unscathed. Or maybe we don’t. We’re radically changed, humbled or otherwise altered by the event. There are tears, grieving, loss, despair, pain. Hope may seem to have left us for good. We shake our fist at the heavens (if you’re into that) or rationalize, bargain, deny and all the rest. As my seventh grade algebra teacher Mr. Pancoke taught us (his real name), “Life is not fair.”
Yet, we humans are resilient. Community, time, art, music, writing, chocolate, ice cream, starting a national movement to ban assault rifles — these things can help us heal, to the extent we can. Some things we never fully recover from. Others, we adapt to. Maybe we lose a leg in a rail car accident as a teenager, and like David Walker, we fight like hell to recover and learn to walk and bike on a prosthetic leg. (You can read Part 1 of my interview with him.) Stories of everyday, ordinary people having great courage abound.
How to Deal
There’s a book you may know of called Full Catastrophe Living, by Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction pioneer and teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn. (He was trained in Buddhism but does not identify with it religiously, but rather its principles and as a practice, which I resonate with.) I haven’t read the book, but I know the premise is this: We are either in a full-blown catastrophe, or we’re in between catastrophes. Hopefully the latter occurs more often than the former.
There are a variety of approaches to dealing with the stress of life. He says mindfulness; I do daily yoga, walking and listening to music. I also regularly do bike riding (duh) and journalling, or I find a sense of peace, community, comedy, meaning — or something — in films, tv, comedy and art. Maybe your way is prayer, painting, blogging, flower arranging, motorcycling, playing golf, petting a dog or cat, singing, or many other things… the methods of accessing the universe, source, higher power or whatever you call it are many. Some are more legal and skillful choices than others. We do these things and try to get through another day of life on Planet Earth.
Maybe I’m also thinking about headier matters a bit more tonight after seeing an interesting movie, Annihilation. It’s not just sci fi, but a meditation on life, impermanence, and much more. No spoilers here, but a quote:
“Annihilation” is not an easy film to discuss. It’s a movie that will have a different meaning to different viewers who are willing to engage with it. It’s about self-destruction, evolution, biology, co-dependence, and that which scares us the most—that we can no longer trust our own bodies. It’s meant to linger in your mind and haunt your dreams. – review on RogerEbert.com by Brian Tallerico
I have no more answers than the next person for what to do when things go awry. We keep asking questions, and doing and trying. Somehow, we go on with our lives. We just keep pedaling.
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