A Cyclist in Repose
You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.
~ Indira Gandhi
I cannot believe it has taken me over 6 months to formulate how I wanted to convey my story. The words are hard to think of, much less write. It is a journey that has had its own time table and almost entirely out of my hands, and one that has come with some loss as well. If there was ever a more difficult time to walk my own talk it has been as a cyclist in repose.
In road cycling they say it is not a matter of not crashing but of when. Even the most trained and experienced athletes sometimes fall. I did.
Skin and bones do heal, it does take time, but the time would be longer, more difficult, and more painful if I couldn’t reset my mindset.
I have had my fair share of injuries and various health setbacks throughout my life. Last summer’s bike accident allowed me to draw upon those many gifts disguised as learnings as I once again faced taking a deep departure from life as I knew it this past July.
Accept both this accident and this interruption, and then let go of all.
Easier said than done. I, like most of us, have many roles and each of those roles involve responsibility, connectivity and commitment. The idea of being unreliable or becoming irresponsible and unable to deliver at my “normal” pace concerned and frightened me. How would I be able to maintain my life and not lose momentum? I lost momentum.
I could not, I would not, allow this detour to be my fate.
My daily routine and life as I know it have been impacted. I knew I would adjust, I am a not only a survivor but a liver of life. I was grateful. I was also grieving.
Though I knew and continue to know these circumstances are temporary, the pain of losing my independence, enduring professional and personal setbacks, and sifting through a mixture of disappointments has been challenging to say the least. Experience has shown me there is nothing like a traumatic event to help clear the clutter. The kind that has been there lurking in the shadows and knowing it was all a matter of time.
As the saying goes when we plan, God laughs, well I would also say that when we don’t plan, God also laughs. Whatever your sense of God is, we are not alone and the universe is very much in tune with what we need whether we realize it or not. This is not to say that having an accident, getting a prognosis for an incurable disease or a terrible tragedy is in our fate, rather if you look at it right there are gifts to be had, and these can be the unexpected treasures. This is not rationalization, this is mindset. When you take small steps towards getting rid of your clutter, it will happen.
By mindset I mean our habits of mind, for better and for worse, both conscious and unconscious, that shape our reactions and behavior. I had decisions to make in order to not fall into a negative mindset where drama and despair love to live. I knew that I would have to go back to my personal guide book of living that included my mission, my vision and my strengths to not go into negative self-talk and self-pity. I can hear my grandfather whispering in my ear that quote by Reinhold Niebuhr, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
I would have to face and accept my current circumstances. I was fighting acceptance.
I would embrace not knowing by not only living with it but turning it into a productive and meaningful time. This interruption was not going to define me nor was it going to limit me entirely. I had to make a sincere and conscious effort so I could change my mindset, reclaim focus and build new connections. My body feels like a stranger. I had new ways of moving, I had to train new receptors to connect muscles that didn’t work like they once did. Each day new things were overcome and I became interested in the possibilities of my current state and the opportunities it was giving me more than the restrictions. I can attest that mindful awareness changes the brain, boosts immunity & increases well-being. There is no accident, illness or situation that can take away my sense of meaning and purpose unless I allow it.
Each day I work on implementing change. I have a few core practices that keep me grounded and focused so that I can get things done and make things happen. Some of these practices have been adjusted, and my daily structure looks a little different these days but by letting go I can go more with the flow. I have become a doer by being in the moment and striving each day towards a stronger, more vibrant me. I have had to figure out other ways to keep me moving forward. I have had to reevaluate my objectives and be more realistic of my current situation. I have had to learn to become a beginner again. I’ve had to learn to stretch myself in areas that aren’t comfortable and I’ve had to accept what might have been.
Bike riding is where I get my mental recovery, not the reason for needing mental recovery. I knew the most important part of my recovery would be my mental state. I had to do some deep inward diving on my healing journey. My love for playing in the outdoors and especially riding my bike gives me a mental break from daily stressors, it pushes me and allows me to refocus where I am refreshed and ready for the next thing. I may not be literally spinning or hiking up that hill, but I am moving forward each day toward getting there. I focus daily on gratitude and the exhilaration I will feel again when I get back in the saddle and reach my next summit. This healing journey has become my training for much more than physical fitness. I have learned to be vibrantly alive in repose.
I will and I can.