What Biking Has Taught Me

Every Saturday afternoon, I would shut down my computer, pull up Flume’s latest album on my phone, lace up my sports shoes, and begin to bike around my neighborhood — Ciputra International City — a suburban area located just 30 minutes away from the Hanoian city center.

In this so-called “international city”, there is no sign of uniqueness or diversity to be found. Everywhere you go; it’s either just trees, buildings, villas or old people exercising that you will find. Everything, from buildings to parks to tennis courts to villas are planned and built with absolute perfection. A perfection that is rather intimidating, terrifying and sickening to its core; for the conformity and uniformity makes this place seem rigid and robotic, smothering the vitality out of me.

Despite that, I continue to bike and bike and bike. But why?

Simply, it is the unbearable scorching heat in the summer and the bitter frigid cold air in the winter that excites me to the core. For me, every Saturday bike is a challenge, a constant battle between my physical strength and my mental one. Strenuous, brutal and demanding — these are the very thing that drives me to embrace this struggle. As my lungs long for oxygen, my muscles crave for recess, my dry mouth thirsts for water and my heart pounds tirelessly; my mind transmits motivation through my neurons, refusing to be defeated by its own body.

And so, as I struggle to find the will to take the next step, I suddenly discover myself unable to resist taking another one. It is precisely the moment when my body stumbles on the edge of collapse that I feel the most alive. While my body keeps screaming “NOOOO”, my mind is telling me “YEEESSS”. Unable to pause, I keep on pedaling as if there was no pit-stop on the way for me to rest. I indulge myself in the pain and the sweat, for it is the challenges, the hardships and the obstacles that inspire me to push through the very boundaries and limits I had previously set for myself.

Similar to my Saturday bikes, life in its essence, is a challenge to be experienced, not to be conquered. I am content in knowing that life is, in fact, about living and understanding the struggles and the suffering we as human must experience. It seems rather absurd, I know. But to me, it is the very pain we go through that inspires us not to find the meaning of it but rather to make meaning out of it.

This is why I push on — to create, to make and to learn.