Pedaling Along

As I sit here eating Mexican rice pudding out of a violet “It’s not easy being a princess” mug, I can acknowledge one thing: life is good.

This is true, not just for me, but for everyone. As often as it may seem fantastical, fictitious, or distant, we’re pretty damn lucky to be alive.

Imagine: a bike ride in February, in Chicago. Yes, today I skipped my beloved kickboxing to take a ten mile bike ride up and down the Green Bay Trail (it’s a path parallel to the train which runs across the North Shore of the city). As I pedaled on my highest gear on this surprisingly warm and pleasant day, I kept pushing myself to go faster, travel further, and never stop. A mix of Juanes, the Flashdance soundtrack, and maybe even the Dixie Chicks kept me cycling through the drenched sludge. My black leggings were soon gray with splattered mud but I dutifully continued on.

After I reached the point of exhaustion I began to travel home. (This is a bad idea. Bad bad bad. Start for home when you are about half tired…) The sun started setting in the most beautiful orange-pink iridescent glow as I traveled my last few miles at a considerably slow speed. There were points when I felt like I couldn’t possibly move my feet anymore but I forced myself to keeping moving, however sluggish I may have been.

I watched as the other occupiers of the path—joggers, dog walkers, and, of course, my fellow bikers—passed by in either direction, either nodding or waving a slight “Hello, keep up the good work” or furrowing their brows in an inconspicuous manner, trying to hide their discontent for my unbelievably slow pace and embarrassingly filthy clothing. Either way, with each interaction I was motivated to continue my trek, make it home without fail, and acknowledge all of my fellow path sharers.

I have a collection of black and white bicycle photos, which I hope to make into a book someday. I have a fascination with bicycles-- it's so interesting to me that way that people have complete control while riding, and how people fill these inanimate objects with such life.

By the time I finally arrived home, my legs felt more like Jell-O than actual human ligaments and I doubted my ability to stand up much longer. But I felt accomplished. Maybe it was all the endorphins from hours of endless pedaling or perhaps just the good weather, but I suddenly felt like everything was perfect. Not ideal, just perfect.

Because everything has a way of working itself out. Good always leads to more good. An obstacle opens our minds and makes us stronger. Even unnecessary bad causes us to react, reconsider ourselves, and understand that something better will eventually occur.

There’s a lot about life that I don’t understand, most of which I probably never will. But I do believe in the universal good. That the people who nod to you on the trail, suffering alongside you, truly understanding your position, make a life worth living. That everyone is in this together, pulling alongside each other, no matter how different our views may sometimes seem. That even the person scowling at my mucky pants just wants to help, hoping that I didn’t wear my favorite pair on such a yucky day.

And I know that eventually, everything works out. Something worse could always happen, something better will always come along. Just like my Jell-O legs brought on a craving for this pudding…