Fat Lady on a Bike: My Journey to Peace and Fitness

Join me and my wonderful Electra Townie bike on my continuing journey to inner peace and both inner and outer fitness.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cycling as Metaphor

When I titled my last post (Breaking the Cycle), I was struck by the irony of those words juxtaposed with the picture of me on my bicycle.  There is cycling (the vicious circle kind), and then there is cycling (the wind in your hair, feels like flying kind).  I suppose there is also the cycle of life kind, or the cycle of holidays.  So cycling, as either activity or metaphor, can be either terrible, amazing, or just plain good. 

As a member of a tribe who read the same book every year, I find the notion of cycling as spiraling both congenial and satisfying.  By spiraling, I mean going around and around, but never ending a circuit in exactly the same place as you began it.  Each time through the book, you understand things a little differently, or notice different stories or phrases based on where you are at that new moment.  Each lap around the track you push a little harder or breathe a little more deeply, or go a little more slowly to pay attention to the landscape.

What I've come to understand lately is that even when it feels as though my cycling is vicious circling, it actually is more likely to be spiraling.  Yes, I keep coming back to the anguish and helplessness of losing my mother, but each time I experience it from a slightly different point of view, and it hurts me a little less.  Yes, I keep slipping back into eating for comfort, but each time with a bit more mindfulness, understanding and compassion and a lot less self-loathing. 

And how does that relate to the wonderful kind of cycling that I do on my bike?  I think the controlling metaphor here is that of the weapon known ethnographically as a bola or more hiply as a meteor hammer -- a weighted ball on the end of a cord that is spun around and around until sufficient momentum is gained and then released to soar away.  If I cycle/spiral enough, I gain momentum and can cycle off into my future, the wind in my hair, feeling as though I'm flying.

A hui hou.

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