It’s been almost a month since my last bike ride, and in that time I’ve spent a lot of time logging miles in the Jeep, always with the intention of getting “there” as quickly as possible. So yesterday, when I got on my bike for the first time in four weeks and started pedaling, 10 and 11 and 12 miles an hour seemed really s….l…o…w. But as I rode down the familiar path at seven times slower than in my car, I became acutely aware of what I miss at 70 mph.
At seven times slower, I thought about how much I love this time of year, and that despite its bittersweet theme of death and decay, I cling to its promise of rebirth. At seven times slower, I smelled and heard the leaves above and beneath me.
At seven times slower, I noticed a cat slinking up a hill and I watched a pig sleeping in the mud of his large pen. At seven times slower, I became aware that a farmer, through whose land a mile of the bike trail cuts, found it necessary to post a sign, “Do not throw objects at turkeys.” What kind of person throws things at turkeys?
Anyway… At seven times slower, I said goodbye to my bike path friends for the season. The cows.
And the power lines that let me know I’ve reached the apex of that stretch of trail and it’s all down hill the rest of the way.
And the golf course the bike trail passes through.
And at seven times slower, I felt my body release its 70-mile-an-hour tension, fiber by fiber (even though I was pretty irritated by the whole throwing things at turkeys thing).
At seven times slower, I thought to visit my daughter and grandchildren. I see them several times a week, but usually always because of some need for one of them to be somewhere else. Yesterday, I sat in their presence and absorbed their essence (and snuggled with Claire in her genuine fire fighter hat that she sleeps with like a stuffed animal).
Tethered to my calendar of penciled-in appointments, yesterday was a gift gotten from a miscommunication involving school. It was like being set free, if only for a few hours, from the new tricks this old dog is learning. For many months I have been what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls a “human doing,” but yesterday, at seven times slower, I was a human being.