As if exhaustion from being out in the Austin, Texas heat wasn’t enough of a sign that I should stay in this evening, I just dropped something heavy on my foot. Now I’m sitting here with ice on it. I was going to have to miss the only open shop night at Yellow Bike Project anyway because I thought it was yesterday and went there for nothing. So while I’ve been out walking a bit more, I’m also getting plenty of heat exposure. I call it sun poisoning, or Vitamin D overdose. So, my bicycling is sucking.
I am writing this post because that’s what I do every Wednesday, Monday and Friday night for over a year — for now). I’ll have a much-needed shower, do my half hour of gentle yoga (probably all on the floor) and hopefully collapse into bed for a full night of rest. But what do you do when life gets in the way of what you really want to do? Whether it’s ride your bike, write your book or blog, etc., how can we do it all? (Hint: You can’t.)
This Too Shall Pass
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, especially when there is pain, physical or otherwise. Some things can really test the limits of one’s Zen mind. When something was really annoying a former supervisor who was English, she would say “It’s doin’ me head in.” That meant it was driving her nuts. We’ve all been there. The idiot(s) in traffic. The missed exit. The unaccepted credit card. Or any number of modern disappointments. Often they are what are called “first world problems,” since they’re “good problems” to have, and not that important when compared to famine, war, and the like. Yet, they are still problems.
After dropping the thing on my foot, due to being inattentive to a handle that detaches (which I knew about), I uttered some loud expletives. “I didn’t think would happen to me” is a common excuse for being careless or in a hurry. So I put the thing back, limped to the freezer to get an ice pack and as I went into my room I said this to my roommate: “Excuse me, I’m feeling rather agitated right now.” Maybe maintaining some sense of equanimity helps a little. Hopefully, it’s not serious and it will feel better in the morning, right as rain. Well, that’s not a good turn of phrase for Austin, Texas in the summer; we’ve hardly had a drop all month.
But am I pissed I didn’t get any miles on my bike today, and this week and month are really sucking? Yes. But you know what? It’s been really hot. I’ve been fighting off sinus allergies and issues. I’ve had a lot of other stuff going on. I haven’t even finished watching the Tour de France, while the Vuelta a Espana has just begun. I didn’t even finish watching the latter last year and might not even start this one. I’ve been to Spain and would love to see it again even via television. (Did you know the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain?) So yeah, equanimity be like, all hard.
Do Events Really Conspire Against Us?
Some days, you just gotta give yourself and the people around you a big break. A friend and I did just that recently and saw a hilarious movie, Good Boys. It’s an R-rated coming of age story. But if we’re honest and open-minded, we’re always growing. It was just what we needed: Perspective with a capital P. We didn’t always think we know everything. Life goes on, ready or not.
“I never lose. I either win or I learn.”–Nelson Mandela, nonviolent hero, President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner
Let’s all be more like the speaker of this pearl of wisdom. He spent decades in prison and forgave his captors, led a nonviolent revolution to overthrow apartheid, and picked up the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to inspire millions.
Another refrain used to shift blame from ourselves is that events beyond our control are ganging up on us. When examined more closely, things we don’t like probably came from something we did or did not do. The dropping of the thing on my foot came from being tired and losing focus. That in turn was due to choosing to stay up late riding and writing last night. Going to Yellow Bike when it was closed came from being lazy and not looking up the schedule to be sure. These are all consequences of choices I made. Maybe there is some grand plan and fate, but as Linda Hamilton scrawled on that table with her knife in Terminator 2, there is “No fate but what we make.”
(Speaking of: The Divine Ms. H. is starring in the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate movie. While she’s grown in years and wisdom, which she wears on her face and body like all of us, including this aging fathlete, anyone who’s kicking the spawn of Skynet’s ass to kingdom come and looking super good while doing it is well worthy of Sorryless’s Invitational series, if you ask me.)
Some of us have perhaps different levels of challenges than others, be they medical, mental, substances, trauma, family history, poverty, war, etc. Obviously they can’t all compare. Some things you don’t come back from, you change and adapt and try to carry on. But we’re all going through something. And if you think everything’s peachy-keen and you’re living the life of Riley (and just who is that guy and how do I get his life?!), great, good for you! But just wait — it ain’t gonna last. The center does not hold. Maybe ask a question “Are you ok?” or “How are you doing?” or “What’s going on?” instead of being too quick to pass judgement on others.
Get Back on That Horse, Somehow
When you’re learning to ride a horse, a bicycle, a race car, or what have you, when you fall off, you gotta get back up on it, somehow. Maybe not right away, since you may need to take some time off first, depending how badly you’re hurt, or how much you’re burned out, or whatever the case may be. When you are able and want it badly enough, it will take courage. Whether it’s by recuperating the body, getting your mind right like by doing something different for variety’s sake, there are times when goals and plans fly out the window. Let ’em fly. Wave and say bye-bye. A good friend who flew the coop to Hotlanta and I loved this song, and the chorus fits here:
“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to, I know that your’e gonna have it your way or nothing at all, but I think you’re moving too fast.”Waterfalls by TLC from CrazySexyCool, 1995
Slow down. Look, tomorrow’s another day. I can ride my bike then, or in a few days if my foot still hurts. I have other things to do. But attachment and craving and being fixated on the wrong things (illusion) as Buddha warned us against are going to happen. So we try to wake up and be more mindful so we can do better the next time. Get our priorities straight. Make better choices. Recommit to our goals, the people around us, our mission in life, and whatever floats your boat. From another Atlanta women’s band comes an anthem with these words of wisdom:
And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains“Closer to Fine,” Indigo Girls, from Indigo Girls, 1989
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine
Being fine is a journey. What the hell do I know? I’m just A Dude. Just do your best. Keep your eyes on the prize, whatever that may be. And live to ride (swim, run, walk, etc.) another day. Until that day comes — and it is coming for all of us — when you can’t even — because you’ll no longer exist. But at least you will have given ‘er the old college try. I’ll leave you and this rambling post with this image from a card that my host has a stack of for guests. Tape it somewhere you’ll see it when you need to be reminded. Because we all do matter. Really.
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