Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Alone, but not lonely.

I remember a time when I couldn't be alone without feeling lonely. I was never happy unless I was in a crowd or on the phone or in a relationship. It's strange how you can live life that way without really realizing that you don't know yourself or what it means to be content. You never really have a chance to think through how you really feel and evaluate what you hope to accomplish. Really and truly, nothing you do - everyday life or leisure - should ever be dependent on the presence of another person. We should make our choices and live our lives with passion and excitement. We should reach for the things we want, avoid the things that make us unhappy and banish the idea that we aren't "able" so long as we are alone.

I rode at the speedway tonight - alone. I passed two walkers and one bicyclist who appeared out of nowhere (maybe he got off the express bus?) but only for a lap or two before disappearing again. I wasn't lonely - not even for a moment. When I first began to ride, if there wasn't someone willing to go, I stayed home. I thought I couldn't ride or I wouldn't be motivated without having a friend along. As I pedaled along in the bus lane, I practiced keeping my cadence steady and riding with no hands. I increased my cadence with control and I explored the difference between gears found on the small and large chain ring. I stood for two minutes, then I sat for one; I repeated the drill over and over again - almost automatically. At some point the notion hit me to sprint one part of the track and then spin the other. At the end, I had drilled myself for over 22 miles. Every mile was dark, quiet (except for my ipod) and desolate. For the first time in a long time, I wasn't lonely. As I circled the track I considered the similarities between reading and riding and smiled at the silly comparisons I was able to make between "word-attack" strategies and "hill-attack" strategies. I realized that you can differentiate your rides, just like I teach others to differentiate their instruction. Whether you ride alone or if you ride with others who have a different level or skill set, you can achieve your goals independently using the same course or even the same bike. Cylcing is an amazingly social activity although you are almost always focusing on your own personal areas of needed improvement. I sang a little (poor walkers...I hope they had ear plugs) and I dreamed a little. At the end of the night, despite my reluctance to ride, I felt an calming sense of contentment. In a world where things can so easily spin out of control - I was in control and thinking clearly.

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