Yesterday was a strange and disturbing day. I don't know if it was simply that I overdid things physically the day before, that I didn't get enough sleep, or the drastic change in barometric pressure, but I felt seriously compromised physically, and that led, as it so often does, to a drastic disturbance in my mental state. I hate when that happens. I've been trying to stay out of that particular set of well-worn ruts in my thinking, with a fair amount of success, but during times of stress, the wheels always want to return to the familiar.
Here's what happened. Feeling too ill to ride my bike, especially given the cold air, I decided to explore bike trails in Chicago in preparation for getting a bike to keep at my sister's house. On the surface, this seems like a healthy, relatively positive alternative to actually biking. And as I was reading about the various trails and bike paths, I started to visualize myself riding along them, as I often do. Usually I can feel the wind in my face and feel the sun on my skin as I fly along the miles, and these feelings are a source of comfort and pleasure to me, but for some reason, the image went dark and I found myself in the middle of the following internal dialog:
"Who are you kidding? You aren't a real cyclist. Everybody else is getting out and riding 15 miles the first nice day, and you have to struggle to keep going for 3."
"Yeah, but I can work my way up to 15 miles, or even more. And I love it."
"You'll probably get that bike and it will sit around in your sister's garage, the same way you've never used the pool at the place you stay when you visit."
"Yeah, but if I don't have the bike there, I'll never ride it. And besides, I love biking even more than jumping around in water, and I really want to be able to share riding with my sister and my Chicago friends and my niece."
"You think you are a cyclist. Huh! You're fat and slow and no one is going to want to ride with you because you can't keep up. And besides, Chicago is a big, scary place."
"Yeah, but I have a cell phone and my friends and family love me."
"Just who the hell do you think you are?"
So, feeling bad and having no answer, I shrank quietly into misery, where I moped for the rest of the day.
I knew how irrational I was being. I knew that I really am an active person, in between bouts of illness and orthopedic challenge. That was the first lesson I learned at Green Mountain, and the one that has perhaps done the most for me during the past few years. But I just couldn't feel it.
It's hard, when injury strikes or your body just isn't working right, to feel in touch with the child in all of us who would rather run than talk, eat or sleep, but getting in touch with that joyous, active soul is, I believe, my first responsibility as someone who is trying to become healthy and fit. My bike usually gives me the best and quickest access to that soul, and I find myself longing to be out on it even when I can barely breathe. Those visions that I have of myself flying over the pavement are very real and feel incredibly important in this process of transforming myself. If I can feel it, truly feel it, I can be it. And so when the doubts hit, as they did yesterday, I have to learn to let them wash over me and dissipate into the ether.
Who the hell do I think I am?
I'm a fat lady on a bike and don't you forget it!
A hui hou.