Lean Into It: When Bicycling and Life Throw You a Curve Ball

One day maybe a year or so ago — the pandemic has proven that time is a human construct and has lost all meaning — I was talking with my father, who art in another town in Texas. I must have been griping about some problem or another when he just blurted out, “Lean into it.” I was taken aback that he would know this phrase uttered more by hipper millennials. For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. I gathered my wits and said, “What do you mean?” I don’t remember the exact words but they were along the lines of “go with the flow,” or “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” possibly an explanation, “just accept that’s how things are and do your best, don’t worry about it.” Good stuff, Dad!

It wasn’t original, but it was still sage advice I needed to hear. Easier said than done. And while it may be hard to do that metaphorically with things that aren’t to my liking in life, as it happens, leaning into it is my favorite thing to do while riding a bicycle. Taking a turn in the road at high speed, steering to follow the bend, and leaning into it is a little dangerous. There is a little mystery of not knowing whether you’re going to fall or not. But if you don’t lean into it, you’re going to go in a straight line and crash. So how can I, and you, dear reader, apply life on the bike to life off it?

Let’s use my current housing crisis as an example. For background, see my article on the hells of househunting and avoiding homelessness. As the deadline of my forced move-out looms large 10 days from now (yikes!), I’ve had to step up the time and effort in the search. Lately it seems that if I’m not searching, I’m thinking about it, which is exhausting mentally and emotionally. Spending hours on the computer looking at and responding to ads, calling some to learn more and a few times to arrange a viewing, texting friends to harangue them into helping spread the word is draining. As if my chronic tiredness isn’t enough to contend with already.

But the last few days I’ve noticed a proportionate shift in my mindset. The more I search, the more I realize that every no or wrong turn brings me closer to a yes. This is a concept I learned from What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolling, the perennial job search guidebook. It’s a series of no’s followed by one yes. You can sometimes find a yes right off the bat, but as with dating, you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before one becomes a princess. And so today I tried a little Buddhist detachment to the outcome, and while it’s still stressful AF, I noticed I was in a bit of a better mood, slightly less worried, and focused on the tasks at hand. I put in the work, I rolled with the punches. I leaned into it.

So when some friends mentioned they were discussing putting me up, I didn’t overreact with craving. And when they decided they’d rather keep their extra room for themselves, I didn’t get too upset either. I wasn’t very attached to the outcome. Of course I’m human (I think) and so sure, I was a little disappointed. But there are several things about their place I don’t care for, so I reminded myself of those. And I ticked it off as another no that is getting me closer to yes. Or so I hope or choose to believe. It was a curve in the road, nothing more, nothing less.

Les Lacets de Montvernier, France. Source: Cycling Challenge

On my walk I saw a bunch of bulk items at the curb. One or twice a year the city trucks come by and picks things up to go to the landfill. One was a very nice brand name bed. It had gotten a little dirty, but was too big and heavy for me to move. I was a little bummed out, but I also realized there would be other, better, beds. I tried to envision a clean new bed coming into my life. A good one can be a thousand bucks or more. So later, a former neighbor that a friend had mentioned was moving out invited me over to see about taking their place, at least temporarily til I find something else.

Then he mentioned he was selling his bed frame, and asked, “Would you like it?” It is high quality and in good shape. He even pointed out there was a pillow top, and I thought to myself that makes it too squishy. He was going on about throwing in the sheets after washing them and said he’d keep the pillow top. “Perfect! I prefer a firmer bed anyway!” I told him. I’ve written before about whether the whole attracting abundance thing is bunk or not. But today, I embraced the fact that my house search was requiring I think outside the box and consider things I didn’t really want to do, like move back to this place. There are things to not like about it.

But the cherry on top is that I was chatting with the owner afterward, who was going on about needing renters. So I asked if he might let me stay on in the two-bedroom by myself at a lower price, since something was better than nothing. He considered it a minute and said yes! That’s a long way of saying that when life throws you a curveball, you may as well take a swing. Even if you’re accustomed to only swinging at fast balls, that’s not how life works.

So the next time you’re on your bike turning on a bend, pumping the pedals hard, not sure if you’re going to fall over or run into the trees, lean into it. And if something isn’t going according to plan, throw it out and try something new. Life isn’t like a box of chocolates, Forrest Gump. Because with a box of chocolates, you know what you’re going to get: chocolates. Life is like a bike ride: bumpy, sweaty, uncomfortable, and even dangerous at times. But it’s also full of mystery, joy, adventure, and fun. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

How about you? What are you leaning into these days, for better or worse?

Thanks to Bike Goddess for the indirect inspiration for the simple but subtle title (which of course I had to make longer). Her recent post Out of True is really well written and honest. There’s a gorgeous photograph she took, too.

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5 thoughts on “Lean Into It: When Bicycling and Life Throw You a Curve Ball

    1. Well it’s temporary with an option to stay but expensive and noisy location so we’ll see. Knowing the owner is good but he’s trying to sell so everyone could be forced out after leases end, the whole place could be torn down after the New Year or rents jacked even higher.

      At least it’s somewhere to land and keep looking or stay for now. Meanwhile, come on, lottery tickets or getting rich from my book. Ha ha!

      Liked by 1 person

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