Anyone who knows me well, or has been to one of my mindfulness groups, knows that my most difficult thought that I have about myself is that I am not good enough. It is a thought that I have frequently been embroiled and entangled with, in other words virtually paralyzed by it. It has been one of the most influential thoughts in my life, the results twofold, one that I doubt myself, and question the opinions that others have of me. Secondly, I have had to live with an often unhealthy need to prove myself. Most often the conclusion that I have drawn is that I don't deserve good things. I could go on and on about this, but.....
Then along comes a day like yesterday.
A number of you have asked me about my Friday all day bike rides. It started about twenty years ago when I did my first hundred mile ride. I expect that the reason for doing it was to prove myself once again. Since then I have averaged about 25 hundred mile rides per year. It has become more than proving myself-it has become a metaphor for life, the joy and wonder, the pain and suffering.
This time of year, I go to bed on Thursday nights wondering if I will be able to drag myself out of bed if the weather is lousy. I was surprised by the sun yesterday. So here is a little of what it is like-skip to the end if cycling bores you.
I got out the door a little easier than some mornings, a little less troubled by whether I had everything or whether the cat wanted to spend the day inside. I rolled down the drive at 8:15, and right away I am reminded of the good fortune to live right on the best bike route anywhere I've been.
It was still cool, the roads a little wet but not slippery. The climb up Fox Hollow a little slower than usual. At my age I start slowly, muscles stiff. It begins to warm some as I cross the valley toward Crow, and I am a little over-heated on the two climbs on Wolf Creek road, at least I am loose now.
The top of Wolf Creek is an extroardinary place, a rock wall on one side that is now covered in graffiti, the other side a steep drop probably of a thousand feet. Not many people remember, but there is a car stuck part way down this slope-the trees have covered it.
The decent is winding, and great fun. Here is part of it:
From here the road curves right and then left down a steep grade where you make a turn left onto Siuslaw River Road, a tunnel of trees and rough roads for seven miles. I am always on guard through here as you feel so alone and vulnerable-a lot of metaphors of life here.
I arrive in Lorane 3:52 after starting. Here is the little store that I have been stopping at for eighteen years:
I fill bottles and am back on the road knowing there are still half of the ten climbs to go. All goes well until I hit the last climb, McBeth Road. I call it McDeath as it is always hard as the last climb of the day. Half way up, I realize that I have made a mistake in not eating across the flat of the valley. I am starting to bonk. My legs are suddenly weak and rubbery. I feel fatigued and also recognize one of the other signs-I am not thinking straight. I am telling myself that it's only eight more miles to home, and I am more than half way up the climb. But this is one of the lessons of wisdom that I have learned, knowing when you are stupid. I stop and eat half a Clif bar. When I get to the fire station at the crossroads, I eat the other half. By the time I get to the top I am better. The decent down Fox Hollow is fast, and I am soon home-7:48 time. I realize that it proves nothing. But I am satisfied having done it
The final piece to a great day is Denise's party, which I had assumed was just a final get together-I hope it is not final, but turns out to be partly a celebration of my retirement. All of you and my wife were in on it, Shawn tells me just what I have meant to the staff I worked with, and I am presented with the Trapazoid box I had wanted to give Lauren, and fell in love with. And what you have really done for me is put a mirror before my eyes to see who I really am, and yes it is very apparent that I am good enough. Thank you all. We will have to do this periodically so I won't have to say I'll miss you.