As mentioned recently, I moved nearer to the University of Texas, with which I have some history. In the last week I’ve come to appreciate some of the advantages of my new location. B.C. (Before Coronavirus), I didn’t have much of a travel budget. If I were a rich man… Since I’m not, I tend to move around Austin, Texas every time my renter’s lease expires. And while it’s not an exotic locale, every location brings with it differences, physical and otherwise. A new abode brings new opportunities to ride my bike in different places, and to explore and expand other horizons, external and internal.
Even though I’ve reached my YOOGE goal of riding the equivalent of the equator, I just keep riding. My daily distance goal on the bike right now is about 22.2 miles. That’s so that I can achieve my annual goal. It’s a little higher because last week I was engaged in moving, and time and energy barely allowed even 5-7 mle rides. This week, I’m back at it, but having to pay for the slacker week. It’s not a lot more than before, but even 22.2 is sufficient to create some fatigue. The other night I felt a lot more invigorated, probably because I got caught up on some sleep (which often seems to be a deficit, like for many people).
However, I am keeping at the biking. Living closer to the campus has it’s advantages in that regard. It’s near Town Lake, which is a fun and pretty place to bike. Whereas before, from more northerly abodes, I would have to get downtown and then keep going south. Now, it’s not so far, so it’s easier to keep going either around the lake or beyond.
In fact, the other night I had a wild hair up muh kiester and just rode Congress Avenue south as far as it went (which turned out to be right at 10 miles). Then I turned around and came back the same way, with an added two miles at the end. Boom! An out and back that looks like a mostly straight line. (A joke: What’s the opposite of progress? Congress.)
My daily walking takes a new path, too. Familiar pathways are gone. I get to find new ones every day for a while now. That includes walking on the campus, where I took the photo of a sculpture made of canoes, suspended impossibly in the air. The burnt orange clock tower is visible, lit up with the school colors because some sports team or another won. It’s refreshing to go through a park, down streets I’ve never been on or only have a passing familiarity with and look at the people and houses. While not like being in a foreign country, it’s sufficiently new and weird. And if you didn’t know it, our motto is Keep Austin Weird.
Traversing the university campus is interesting. Instead of suburban streets, I’m now in a mostly empty area with old buildings and the occasional gaggle of students. I may see a hall where I attended a concert, or the theater I used to go for movies, a museum, or a plaza where I attended a rally. At one point a long time ago I even had a post office box on campus, something I’d forgotten. So I have history here, and that is both a reassuring feeling and ones that’s maybe a little melancholic.
There are some unpleasant sides to my location. Namely its proximity to the major highway can bring too much noise inside at night for some reason. Students abound around here, and they can but a little unruly, and we don’t have much in common. Since I didn’t attend UT, wondering what might have been had I done so is a sort of sad situation. But in the end I think I’m where I need to be.
And really, despite the various moves, finding oneself at ease wherever you are, under whatever conditions, is a parallel between biking and life. Out biking and it rains? Well, if you don’t have good rain protection, you’re going to get wet. And if you forget to bring a rain jacket during your biking, you may not be prepared with other things needed to keep yourself safe. The mindset of a biker is to go out there and go hard, and hopefully with the gear that makes it work.
We’re all dealing with our struggles and a pandemic sure isn’t making it any easier. To the extent we can develop resilience on a bike, walking, doing yoga, writing (or whatever practices one might follow), hopefully we can apply that to surviving the various slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. That is the human condition, after all.
Keeping your eyes on the prize and the road ahead of you, who knows what obstacles and goals you might break through. Looking afresh at new surroundings, faces, neighbors, shops, roads, and buildings can keep things interesting and fresh, a.dget you out of a rut. There’s an old Shaker hymn I’ve always liked that sums up my thoughts on moving here:
’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
-- Joseph Brackett (1797-1882)
Hopefully I've "found myself in the place just right," and things will go well for me here. After all, the universe(ity) is my oyster! (Ugh, oysters.)
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