Repost August 2011~
A week or so ago, David surprised me by getting my bike repaired. I wasn't able to ride it last summer and I truly do love riding my bike. One summer when I had the store, I even rode back and forth to work. My little go green phase where I saved on gas and exercised daily. It was great - well- like all things there was a slight downside. I blogged about it many years ago: http://spiritworkblog.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/05/lessons_learned.html Little glitches aside, I was excited to get back out there on my trusty bicycle. Work has me glued to my PC and phone. One Conference Bridge after the other...sitting for hours...my joints are really complaining.
So, to get out on my bike again was such a wonderful thing. I also tend to do my best thinking while moving on two wheels. Could be all those deep breaths, more oxygen, etc. Or maybe it is the feeling of flying…rapidly moving through a world that all too often pulls me in directions I would prefer not to go. Escape – a beautiful thing. Anyway, I couldn't wait to get out there and race through the neighborhood. I have a route I used to bike that always proved to be a *big* workout for me. Lots of hills and places where I could "feel the burn". And I needed this ride. Between work, family and trying desperately to put my retail business behind me, my world is just way too demanding. Factor in the unwanted mail from AARP and brochures inviting us to select cemetery plots and you can see the need for me to hit the open road. Wind whipping across my face, it is fifteen minutes in and I am a new person. I am twenty nine again. The trees on all sides of me are lush and large. Deep green branches arching like canopies. The flowering bushes and those amazing summer smells.
As I shifted gears and pedaled faster, I was reminded there is a whole world out there. I zipped down the winding hill to flatter land gaining even more speed. Zooming past the deep, wide lawns that were once farmland. The road was quiet without any cars in sight. I felt almost completely alone except for something up ahead in the distance. It was small, low to the ground and definitely gaining speed. Hey, it looked like it might be coming my way. Yeah. It was… It was coming for me. And at that point, my brain rifled through the visual cues. Dog. DOG? Not a big dog, but a sturdy little sucker. Short legs, big belly…moving like a freight train.
Oh geez. Someone's bulldog was loose and fixated on me. Or maybe he just liked ten speeds. In no time, he was a few feet away from my front tire. Clearly with eyes on the prize. I thought if I turned he would miss me or at least miss my front wheel. In fact, he did miss my front wheel, however in true bulldog fashion he kept moving forward. Yikes! I was over thinking. The goal wasn’t bike spokes or human flesh. The goal was much simpler: MAKE CONTACT. Moving at full speed, he met up with my right shin, foot and bike pedal. Built like a tank and holding nothing back, it felt like everything below my knee exploded. “AARRRGH!” I screamed.
The bulldog went flying into a nearby lawn. The owner came running out oblivious to my pain. He ran after his pet with one of those, “There, now I hope you learned a lesson” speeches. Now, this “hope you learn a lesson” thing is really a technique. It is used by both parents and dog owners. I have seen it time and again at the zoo, park, and school playgrounds. It’s a cheap way of acting like you’re taking responsibility without facing the damage head on. You are basically going to ignore the other party for fear there really will be some culpability. To be effective, the individual must speak loudly and be heard by several other people. It puts the perpetrator in the offensive position where the victim feels like they will receive the required apology and assistance. Truth is nothing comes after the very public outrage. But by the time a victim realizes this, the offenders have left the state vacated the area.
In this case, hearing the tell tale signs, I simply grabbed my bike and decided to slowly head home. Unfortunately, as soon as I circled back around, Mr. Bulldog was up and ready for round two. Apparently, my back wheel held as much intrigue as the front. Shin throbbing, I tried to get as much pavement between me and my sturdy friend as possible. Not sure he had in fact learned his lesson and completely unwilling to donate my other shin to canine behavioral research – I put it in gear. Crud. My shin ached. Probably would not be able to bike for several days. That darn dog - he just wasn't going to give up. He either didn’t realize or just didn’t care that he was hurt. He was unwavering in his goal.
Huh. Imagine being so determined you do not even notice the pain. A time when the end goal is so important, you will tolerate anything in the short term just to achieve the end result. A destination so important it is THE only thing that matters. I decided in that moment, it must have been a young bulldog. Definitely not 51 years old. And certainly not a bulldog with children. I know this because time and kids have a way of wearing us down. Up until a few years ago, I was like that bulldog. Focused, single minded…I always hit my mark. And nothing my kids dished out would influence me or cause me to back down.
Then life and events and hard and bad arrived for a visit. And I learned a little about fear, disappointment and expectations. Its is the lesson we all get. The moment we know. We know that it is harder to be brave and steadfast when you realize where there is victory there might also be defeat.
Anyway, as I thought about that silly bulldog being tossed a couple feet in the air, I thought about the difference between giving up and giving in. About holding your ground and knowing when to just let it all unfold. And even if it sometimes looks like you may have failed, failure is simply one outcome. It isn’t a destination. It isn’t the end of the road. The secret is even when you fail it is still all about the timing. The quicker you make your next move the faster that moment, that failure, will fade. It’s all in the recovery. You have got to get up fast and get beyond the pain. Sitting with your pain or disappointment doesn’t help. They are simply road markers telling you where not to go again. And like my friend the bulldog demonstrated by shifting his direction and deciding to go for my back wheel, just because you change your approach doesn’t mean you can not have a win.