Occasionally someone rises from evening meal,
Goes outside, and goes and goes, and goes....
Because somewhere in the East a sanctuary stands.
And his children lament as though he had died.
And another, who dies within his house,
Remains there, remains amid dishes and glasses,
So that his children must enter the world
In search of that sanctuary, which he forgot.
I had somewhat of a breakthrough ride last week. It wasn't a physical breakthrough, but a mental one. If you remember a few weeks back I was lamenting the fact that I get to mile 75 in a ride and I just want to stop. I'm sick of it, I'm cold, I'm hot, I'm hungry, my ass hurts, I'm lonely etc. and so on.
I needed a ride on which I didn't notice I was at mile 75. I needed to feel in a good mood with 30 miles to go. I needed to enjoy even the unenjoyables of biking, and I was beginning to doubt I ever would.
So last week I decided that this week my long ride would be different. I'd ride 110 miles, and my second half would be faster than my first. I would be happy at mile 75 and looking forward to working it for the next 35. I would not sulk. I would relish the fact that I can ride all day on a Thursday, alone, on my awesome bike and on the beautiful hills of the land far west of the city.
And I did it.
I created a route that was 50% new. That was the first ticket. I rode through old mill towns I had never heard of before, I got super close to the border of Rhode Island, I brought a few new types of snacks, and I tested out new pee stops. For those of you in this area who are looking for good rides, this is what I did:
Mary's cool Route west of the City
I did hit bad patches of road, and the blackflies did nearly eat me alive when I stopped to eat or pee, but mostly I was -- happy. The longer I went still feeling in a good mood, the happier I got. I DO like this! I DO like seeing new things from astride Mrs. Z! I DO think it's cool that while the rest of the world is sitting, I am moving moving moving.
One thing I thought was interesting was that I saw NOT ONE other biker the whole day. When I mentioned this to Andy he pointed out that very few people were privileged enough to spend a workday riding their spiffy TT bike through old mill towns.
What really sucks is working hard to get through an aspect of something that has been a struggle for you, and then getting reminded that you are the only one who is privileged enough to even take on that struggle. You think that's a struggle, Mary? You are luckier than 99.9% of the world and you want to view it as an achievement that you enjoyed yourself on your ride? Excuse my while I go vomit.
I felt bad for a moment. And then I turned off the guilt-meter and turned on the anger jets. Full steam ahead! Poor Andy.
He wasn't wrong, --he really wasn't wrong at all, and he hadn't said this in a mean-spirited way. It was just a simple truth. Who CAN ride all day on Thursday? And of those who can, who wants to? Not many. But I had already been set on fire. Watch out! (sorry, Andy! xoxoxo)
And I haven't been able to stop thinking about it--and my guilt/anger. Because here's the thing:
I am lucky and I am privileged. And I know it.
But I have taken that luck and privilege, and I've tried to make something of it, because even when one is lucky and privileged (maybe even especially when one is) she still risks staying home with the dishes and glasses if she doesn't fight. She risks forgetting to seek the sanctuary, perhaps even believing that the sanctuary has been handed to her, so why should she search for it anyway?
But the sanctuary of luck and privilege is a false sanctuary, and I know that, and I'm looking for my own real one. This is my way of searching for it--of leaving to find it. Pardon me for leaving to find it. Pardon me for seeking the life I want to live. Pardon me for squirming until I found a way to seek it. It was triathlon or taking off for a different sanctuary,and in that light, triathlon doesn't look so bad.
I don't want my children limited by my sad example. I want them to witness what it looks like not to forget to seek. Forget you if you think my way of seeking is shallow, or privileged, or selfish, or not worthy of respect. I woke up to the nothingness which haunts all of us, and I had to do something. I'm sorry if you haven't.
The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of the earth and the galaxy of the stars, but that in this prison we can fashion images of ourselves sufficiently powerful to deny our nothingness. -Andre Malraux