Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Lessons from the Saddle: Part 4

… and to Everyone’s Relief — The Final Part

I fear that the bike-riding season wanes rapidly. You are probably grateful, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for wearying of my fascination. Please indulge me in one final sermon from the saddle, however.

You see, daughter #1 gave me a nifty bicycle-gadget for my birthday: a speedometer/odometer type of thing. It’s great for tracking accumulated mileage, average speed, whether you are going faster or slower than average, and so on. Really a nifty little gadget that I am pleased to own.

On the plus side, it helps to keep me on track. I am a wool-gatherer by nature and easily zone off into a semi-conscious state. I am the type who can get lost in a daydream, pedal mindlessly forward, miss critical turns, and find myself in a strange location. I do that less with the little speedometer there to help bring me back into focus.

On the other hand, I find it altogether too easy to allow the little contraption to become an end unto itself — a boss of sorts. “Oh, I’m not going as fast as I was yesterday. I’d better remedy that and pedal faster.” But maybe it’s windier than it was yesterday, or perhaps I am just sluggish today. What I am saying is that I have, to some extent, let the speedometer dictate my pace. At times, I have senselessly pushed myself just to reach a certain number on the gauge.

In my last few outings, however, I have begun to realize that I could use the speedometer without ceding control. What a novel idea! I can use it for information but not be a slave to it. I can check my speed, but If I am finding it difficult to maintain my normal speed on any given day, there’s nothing wrong with slowing down a little. I have found that dropping down just a kilometre or two per hour can ease the strain considerably if I happen to be labouring and straining.

What’s the rush anyway? I am never going to be sixteen again, and, even at sixteen, I didn’t have the stuff to be Lance Armstrong. What’s wrong with getting some exercise without making myself miserable by imposing some arbitrary threshold? Why needlessly turn joy into labour?

Isn’t it possible to make some sort of general application from this little thought that I somewhat pompously call a Lesson from the Saddle? For example: isn’t it altogether too easy to enslave ourselves to life’s meaningless treadmill: the unsatisfying job promotion, the overtime hours, the entrapment of things? Am I measuring my success in life with the right yardstick? Or am I mindlessly doing what I think is expected of me? Am I so caught up with improving against some meaningless measurement that my spirit is left desert-dry?

Well, it’s a nice day, and there won’t be many more, so I think I should get off my soapbox and onto my bike. But I promise to stay within myself: to be guided by my own spirit and not by a dumb digital display.

1 comment:

K-Squared said...

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