What’s Your Ride?

Everyone has a vehicle. I am not really talking about a car or motorcycle. No, the vehicle I am talking about is what you use to explore for new places both physically and in other ways. So, it might be your car. But, it could be your running shoes or your yoga mat.

Most of us have more than one way to get around. There are the few one-trick ponies who maybe find work or school all-consuming. But, like a different set of clothes, we have our various ways of seeing and experiencing. One of my favorites is the bicycle. You can ride paved roads bicycle paths, dirt roads, and dirt trails. You can even put it on your shoulder and walk for a while to get over obstructions.

And, when the same routes get boring there are resources like Google Maps, RidewithGPS, Strava, and many others to find new places, see new sights, and change up the routine that maybe has become stale. And, like those same roads we travel day-after-day that can become boring and tiresome, we have our standard ways of thinking and experiencing the world that can make us feel trapped on a treadmill going nowhere. What are the maps of our interior daily life we can consult to find a new way?

The maps are surprisingly similar and sometimes the same. When bike riding on a new road yesterday called Skywalker (really — I swear!) that turned into a paved trail when barriers to cars appeared, with vistas of a 100,000 person metropolis, and a hill-side house reminiscent of The Jetsons, my interior map changed as well. The experience of a new physical area changed the interior landscape as well. Simple enough you may say, but possibly a bit more complex than at first blush.

What were the choices made along the way? What expectations were involved? How much awareness of my immediate surroundings did I need? If my head is down the whole time huffing and puffing up the 14% grade will I see The Jetson house? The rain clouds not too far off provided a sense of urgency. The previously unknown road that just turned into a paved trail with one foot high weeds makes me wonder if I’m lost. Something is making me feel edgy now.

When was the last time someone was here? Does it matter if I know?

So, it seems that fear is a vehicle for opening up something new. Fear makes me want to turn around and go back to the car and then head into Pete’s for a coffee. Recognizing that the fear is probably irrational pushes me on to new vistas both physically and mentally.

Once committed to moving forward then like magic a downhill appears which accelerates the adrenalin flow. My senses have become more acute to subtle changes in the road since hitting a rock at 35 mph could send me flying.

Like following physical maps someone else has made in order to get somewhere sooner and with less effort, there are interior maps that have been left behind. Those can be ways of analyzing data. It might be emotional maps of dealing with fear and other feelings that can carry us away. My emotional map regarding fear is one traveled extensively and was familiar enough for me to make a good decision.

Sometimes we just have to go with the flow though. Like being in a strong current in the ocean or a river, if you fight the current then your body will tire out and you could drown due to exhaustion. When to fight the current and when to go with the flow are important decisions. Sometimes you can make a quick burst of swim strokes to make it to the beach or the side of the river and save yourself.

There are some serious rain clouds building up from where I came and am planning to return to in about 3 hours. Should I turn around and try to beat them back? Or, should I stick with the plan and head away from them and hope they are gone by the time I am heading back in that direction? My intuition is to follow the plan because, hey! — things have worked out OK so far. But, just following intuition seems wrong somehow. A quick check of iPhone weather shows that the rain is supposed to pass in about 1.5 hours. Everything seems great!

Beautiful scenery unfolds and joy. But, the road is strange. There is a sort of foreboding. I have not been here before. Can I stay on schedule? And, what kind of sign is this? I mean, this ride is feeling a bit weird. But, what-the-heck?

I am feeling a little strange, but really, does life have to cooperate so fully? This seems like a time to go with that flow. And, in just a few minutes that will get tested.

The clouds are getting darker and I am thinking of stopping for lunch but want to stay the course. The air gets that fresh smell of rain so I stop to put my phone in a plastic bag and get my gilet out. And, then the rain comes down and the rain is fierce in my face. I have to really push hard to pedal up the hill into this 25 mph wind. I am rewarded by some oak trees to gain cover under where I discover that my GPS says I am off course. I was supposed to turn at that last intersection and missed the beep due to the wind. My good fortune of finding the oak trees also lets me correct course. The wind dies down and the rain passes.

Heading back to the car on this last stretch of more familiar roads, all the events of the day coalesce and this little memo-to-self writes itself. In the end, that Pete’s ice coffee tastes really good. But, now instead of feeling like a salve for giving in to fear, it seems like a reward for pushing my physical and emotional boundaries

What is your vehicle? How do you get outside and outside yourself?

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