Off the mat: Bike thief vs. the Kula

Each morning, Sadhana started with a little philosophy. On Sunday it got real.

Sunday. Sadness, anger, determination too: My lock hangs from the ring, bike-less, dreams of summer riding cut in two uneven halves.

I cry, mostly out of frustration: “How could they do this at 7:00 on a Sunday morning? On a busy street? In broad daylight?” And more than a little sadness: “It was my bike.”

I get a hug and well-meaning advice from my classmates. Drive around, they say, check Kijijji, check the park, check the river. It might turn up.

Around the corner, Caroline and I buttonhole a cop in the parking lot quietly doing paperwork. “Any distinguishing details?” he asks. “How about the serial number? Bikes turn up all the time, but we can’t do much without the serial number.”

No, I don’t have the serial number. Or any damn distinguishing details.

I walk for an hour, tour the park, the side streets, ache to see a flash of red and white, prepared to fight. I want it back.

Monday. I am bust upside the head with kindness. This morning at yoga, there’s a card from the Kula. Some I’ve practiced with for years, others I have just met. Sweet disbelief.

I don’t open it right away, I’m too surprised and caught in the spotlight. “I guess they needed it more than me,” I joke, half-believing it. I tuck the card in my bag and find a mat.

Tuesday. Our Sadhana is seven days of yoga from 6:00–7:30 a.m. with the goal to establish a daily practice or deepen one. I look forward to it every year: a whole week to get strong and reconnect to something solid.

This year, Karen starts with a discussion about the eight limbs of yoga: Yamas and Niyamas, Asana (the physical practice most of us equate with “yoga”), Pranayama (breath work), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and finally Samadhi (enlightenment; not likely in this life).

We focus on the Yamas and Niyamas, qualities to cultivate to be your best human self — kind of like Christianity’s 10 commandments, hold the fire and brimstone. They include “Ahimsa” non-violence (very hard right now) “Astya” non-stealing (ha, tell that to the bike thief) and “Aprigraha” non-attachment (but it was my bike).

The idea is to integrate these qualities into your everyday — not looking back with “what if”, not looking ahead with “I wish” — but being right here, whatever life throws you.

Mostly, they’re about letting go of expectation, whether that’s being annoyed at the person sitting in ‘your’ spot at yoga class or, well, playing repeat on the moment you catch the jerk who stole the bike that’s been your go-to for happy rides for more than 10 years.

My bike was a hand-me-down from my Mom, my reliable red ride and transport to bliss on super-hot days. When it was too stifling for a good walk, it was the gift of cool freedom. And flight.

There’s a hill beside the Children’s Museum where the path curves around the parking lot and slopes with just the right amount of pitch. If the coast is clear, I close my eyes and lightly rest my hands on the grips. No brakes, no stopping.

Near-total trust in bike and universe propels me down the hill. A gentle whomp in my gut tells me I’m at the bottom, levelling out with the trail. On a hot day, it’s magic.

The motion takes me back to childhood when I was certain I could fly. I’m not sure if it’s the near-total trust or the whomp, but that sweet glide almost captures it.

Wednesday. We’re all pretty tired but finding a rhythm after five days of early mornings.

Karen asks us to reflect on what our yoga practice gives. How it can sustain us through the death of a friend, depression, car accidents, illness, bad jobs, anxiety, breakups – the stuff that’s always right there, bubbling under a thin veneer of normal. The stuff that, at some point, always breaks through.

I have a tiny revelation: The mat is always there, no matter what else is going on.

As we head into our final day of Sadhana, I am surprised by the smallest taste of Santosa (contentment). Or maybe it’s just perspective: A stolen bike is a very small hiccup on life’s journey. Doubly so when it opens the door for overwhelming kindness to step in.

It’s almost winter now and riding season’s just about over. The sharp, tight feeling in the centre of my chest every time I see a red bike stings less. I think I’m ready to move on.

Kindness is possible. With a little work, so is transcending day-to-day bullshit. Forgiving the bike thief might just be possible too.

I open the card at the end of class Monday. The message reads: “As my mother would say: Perhaps he needed it more than you, dear.” We laugh, because that’s almost exactly what I said at the start of class.

If the bike thief didn’t need my bike, I hope they get caught. And if that doesn’t happen, maybe bringing disappointment to people every day is sentence enough.

Me, I’m lucky. Our shed is full of random bike parts and Lee’s pretty sure he can put together a grocery-getter for now. I’ll look for a new bike next spring, maybe something more upright, more cruiser, less gears, a better fit for this part of my life and preferred activities, i.e., slow distance and near-flying.

I’m lucky too for the kindness of my Kula, familiars and strangers alike, who mobilized support and generosity. These are my good people.

Bike thief, I hope you find yours.

A hill made for flying.