The other day, our friends let us try out their “adult cruiser” bicycles. They started biking last year, and frequently spoke of the glories thereof. But we resisted until now, for we two occupants of this household are plagued with bad backs, knees, and whatnots (I throw that in for good measure). Therefore, our reluctance, more mine that Sue’s, was understandable. I had ridden Ally’s bike from time to time in the past few years, and did not find it easy on my back. I hadn’t heard about “adult cruisers” or “comfort bikes” until our friends began preaching of their virtues (the bikes’ virtues not the friends’).
And so it was with some scepticism that we borrowed our friends’ bikes the other day, but our scepticism soon gave way to exaltation. The high, curve-around handle bars let us ride in a straight-back position rather that the usual forward hunch. We pedalled down to The Bay and under the bridge for almost two hours. Backs, knees, and whatnots remained comfortable and in good working order.
Part-way through, Sue proclaimed that she knew what she was going to do that afternoon. “What’s that?” responded I, thinking to hear that she would be recuperating in bed or soaking sore muscles in a hot tub. But, like me, she was feeling so elated that she had already determined that she would be shopping for a bicycle that afternoon. I was forced to concur, for when mama speaks in that voice, papa listens.
Indeed, by mid-afternoon, we had spent the remaining portion of our meagre life-savings (I exaggerate only slightly for the benefit of the narrative) in favour of enjoying the exhilaration of pedal-power. It is now four days later, and we have managed to go riding almost daily for about two hours at a time. That’s pretty darn good for these not-so-fit, somewhat creaky, almost-senior bodies.
When I’m out there biking, I am also back there somewhere — somewhere in time. It seems as though in some way I have pedalled through a forty-five-year time barrier, as though a backward glance could reveal my boyhood best friend wheeling along behind. I am almost in two worlds at once. The present and past get all crinkled up together somehow. Kind of a neat feeling that.
I always liked biking when I was a kid — really, really liked it — but was resigned to those days being long gone. Thankfully, however, that’s one door that I have been able to ride through again. Both Sue and I are having a blast.
Isn’t it great when these somewhat serendipitous things happen? If we didn’t have friends who happened to get adult cruisers and who were willing to let us try them out, we wouldn’t have known, wouldn’t have tried.
We would have been happy still, for happiness comes from within, but we wouldn’t be experiencing this particular joy. Happiness is wonderful, the state of being that we choose (see Sue’s blog), but special joy often creeps up when we are not expecting it. If happiness is the table from which we dine, perhaps joy is the salt that flavours the food.
You can choose to be happy. I have known sick and dying people who have chosen this way of being in the world, and I think I have learned from them. Joy seems to visit sporadically and randomly, but I think that sometimes we can put ourselves in its path. When an option or opportunity presents itself, we can seize the moment, open the door, and walk through. Because nothing is certain in life, I cannot proclaim that joy always awaits us on the other side of the door, but I think it often does.