Shut up, work brain. I’m going to enjoy a bike ride.
On Monday, a sunny day with a strong wind, I left a meeting with my new life coach close to five. I felt at once an obligation to head home — an internal guilt trip — and a desire to feed my bicycle-addicted brain. I was downtown already and compromising:
“You can’t go ride the seawall right now. You have things to do.”
“Like what? There’s nothing important to be done when I get home at 5:30.”
“I don’t know, you just need to go home. … Okay, you may take the short scenic route.”
“It’s a little farther but worth it.”
It took me awhile to relax and give myself permission to feel like I was free for the evening, that I didn’t need to go home and work.
A curious pull to know what it felt like to swing in the ecstatic wind won over the critical part of my brain. It actually doesn’t feel any different, but the view of the rolling waves at Second Beach was enthralling. When I was finally ready to leave, a helicopter flying low overhead caught my attention. I was startled to see an eagle pass beneath it, sailing on the wind. As I looked skyward, as many as four eagles appeared. It was amazing: an eagle seemed to be barely moving, and then moved sideways. I lifted my arms slightly and imagined the eagle was feeling the same way, if not more joy.
At this point I think it was my stomach telling me to go home, so take the scenic route I did, through the forest. On the other side of the bridge, waiting to cross at an intersection, I eyed up the pedestrian/cyclists overpass I’d never been over. Thinking, “ah, what the heck, today’s as good as any,” I doubled back and rode slowly over industrial land and next to a broadening creek. I assumed so incorrectly where this overpass would wind up that I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on a tree-lined, paved path along the water. It continued, with a few exit options, and opened into an oceanfront park I never knew existed. The view of downtown was astounding, and the evening sun lit up dog owners and runners.
I wondered why I hadn’t been that way before in the year and a half I’ve lived in this area, and decided that when I’m not in a hurry I’m going this way.
Travelling up the hill, I had nostalgic reminders of evening rides home in the heat of the summer, in the warm glow of the sun. By this time I’d long forgotten my critical brain’s stressful whining, and replaced it with happiness and dreaming about summer. The evening gave me a distinct feeling the season had shifted. When I got home I wrote down a dozen words describing what happiness feels like. I wanted to remember it and conjure it up at will. I thank curiosity for that act, and my life coach for planting seeds of self-reflection.
I love that the bicycle nurtures curiosity, enables discovery and encourages freedom. It’s worth taking a break to cultivate those feelings, especially when part of you says you must.