SOME PEOPLE FIND inner peace while running long distances, as their consciousness disengages with the so-called real world and enters a state of just being. I have always found that on the seat of a bicycle.
Growing up, I enjoyed riding my bike — a souped-up, blue Schwinn Stingray with a shock absorber on the front, a slick tire on the back and an Iron Cross fashioned on the top of a tall sissy bar. The bike was a proud possession, given to me by my uncle Ron.
As a teen, my uncle used to ride wheelies on that bike down the street, while his older brother, my dad, did the same on motorcycles. I, on the other hand, didn’t seem to inherit their risk-taking bravado. I’ve always preferred to ride for a sense of discovery, seeing what was around the next corner or blocks away where I’d never been.
As embarrassing as it now sounds, one of my favorite leisure activities as a kid was combining two of my joys — biking and reading. I’d be engrossed in a Hardy Boys mystery, and then I’d hop on my bike and ride around a bit, holding the book in one hand and steering with the other. At some point, I’d stop along the side of the street, put my foot on the curb and crack the book open and then read another few pages before closing it. Then I’d ride around some more, read some more and repeat that for longer than I care to admit.
One day I was doing just that when I stopped my bike not far from a parked car. It was a sunny day with few clouds in the sky. A bee flew by and caught me by surprise. Suddenly, I was transported somewhere else. I began to ponder how fast it took for my eyes to see the bee, send the information to my brain and then signal my body to respond by swatting it away. At that moment I was dumbfounded by the incredible speed in which our body must process information. I cannot tell you why I still remember that moment like it just happened, but I’ve never forgotten it.
Thinking about it now, I realize that I’ve always been able to disconnect my thinking while riding around, just as most of us often do when driving for long stretches without being conscious of doing so.
Meditation — on wheels.
Today, on a bike ride with my wife through the nearby park, I found myself watching the wheels of her bike while following behind. The spokes became a hypnotic blur. No, I didn’t fall, but I later wondered how often — out of the 86,400 seconds each day — we take leave of our senses while our consciousness does other business of which we are not even aware.
It is suggested that when we are born, a part of our soul remains on the “Other Side,” and when we die our self becomes whole again. If so, does our consciousness maintain two existences — here and there — and if so, is our consciousness constantly flipping back and forth between the two planes of existence?
Such a possibility just reaffirms my belief that each of us is a much greater spiritual being than our waking consciousness can grok. So don’t you ever sell yourself short, even when things look bleak and you’re finding it hard to manage life’s inherent challenge. Rest assured, you are incredibly proficient at more than you can imagine. Hang in there.