This is a two part article that was published in the AU Gardens Newsletter the last two weeks.
Friday evening after a long week Lani and I were invited to a sunset cruise with some close friends in St. Joseph. The knee jerk reaction after an over stuffed week was, “No, lets just stay in and go to bed early”. However, the weather was just perfect. It was going to be simply the four of us and a quiet evening on the Lake is never a bad idea. The game changer was my comment, “I’m always talking about connecting to nature. We have a chance to stay in or go out. Out’s, got to be the answer”. As my weekend progressed I had this thought constantly in the back of my mind. At every turn I was trying not to be the hypocrite who talks, but won’t do.
Saturday morning we got up and went to beach yoga with this on my mind. I envisioned restorative, relaxing time stretching my body out. Half way in when I was sweating bullets and was taking “breaks” in the plank or down dog-position I realized how wrong I was. Sand sticking to every inch of my OCD shaking body and heavy breathing in a line of 40-50 year old women with 8% body fat wasn’t exactly my idea of restorative Saturday morning beach time. So, in the afternoon my oldest boy was ready for our long run, I again made plans for rebuilding myself. We could find a trail or quiet scenic spot, take an easy pace and use the time to contemplate and enjoy the outside spending quality time together. However, he has a new watch! Mile one, “Beep…a little over nine dad we need to pick this up”. Mile two, “Beep, just under nine dad. It’s ok but build.” Mile three 8.75, mile four 8.5, 8.25….. By the last mile of this long “relaxing” run I had snot streaming down my cheek and I was running like I stole something. “In the sevens dad lets finish strong”.
Sunday I was convinced. I would get my outside time in, but it would be relaxing! By happenstance all other exercisers in my home had already made plans for the day. Each had a different goal and I was left with a nice leisurely bike alone. My favorite. I plugged in my ear buds, pulled out of our road and set to it. Now one of my greatest joys is to race, cars through town. St. Joe was over crowded with weekend events, I wanted to get out into the open countryside and I started to really lay into it. Cars who had just pulled up to a stoplight in front of me began to move again with a green as I approached. My speed moved up, 15,16,17…When to my great surprise some nice out of town lady noticed a yarn shop to her right and made a last minute decision. I was a car length away in my aero bars pedaling as hard as I could. I pulled a right hand back to the brake, my tire locked up, my mouth went from cyclist to sailor in 1.3 seconds and - With feet still clipped into my charge and an arm leaning on an aero bar I was launched into the air. Perfect form, first my head, then a slightly arching back and a firmly clinched tail to follow. I flew like the first high jumper vaulting backward over the trunk of this car…Pause story here.
Resume story here…My speed moved up, 15,16,17 mph…When to my great surprise some nice out of town lady noticed a yarn shop to her right and made a last minute decision turning right in front of me. I was a car length away in my aero bars pedaling as hard as I could. I pulled a right hand back to the brake, my tire locked up, my mouth went from cyclist to sailor in 1.3 seconds and - with feet still clipped into my charge and an arm leaning on an aero bar I was launched into the air. Perfect form, first my head, then a slightly arching back and a firmly clinched tail to follow. I flew like the first high jumper vaulting backward over the trunk of this car.
I was supposed to be connecting to nature. I wasn’t racing anyone. A little exercise, some fresh air and some time to sort out life in my head. Yet, in my head lives a little devil. I was informed of this about two years ago when an older, very athletic friend stood in front of my tread mill at the Y and asked why I was working so hard. Are you still training for events? “No, I say. I’m setting that aside while I focus on school and my new job. I can’t push myself in so many places it’s wearing me out. So, I’m just going to use these times to restore”. He smiled as many with years of wisdom do, “It’s the devil in your head chasing you. You’re racing yourself. Don’t race the devil, Garth”. So, as I’m hovering in mid air over the trunk of this car I have only a few seconds to sort it all out. The devil is gone at this point because he got what he wanted as soon as my front tire made contact with the quarter panel. My mind is clear, the whole world paused around me and my life did not pass before my eyes. What passed before my eyes were six simple words, “It’s time to take up golf”.
I landed in the middle of the intersection exactly like a high jumper on my tail, head and feet high in the air, but without that big puffy pad. I don’t really remember that part, but I’m sure my form was excellent. What I do remember is standing up and instinctively knowing my sunglasses, now in three pieces, needed to be picked up and that my bike, thank goodness, had come unclipped from my shoes. The kind folk driving behind this car I collided with had stopped, jumping out of their car with eyes the size of saucers and worried to death. I composed myself, got back on my bike, headed for South Haven and took the next two hours unpacking what an idiot I am. There is a vast delta between connecting with nature and colliding with nature. All things in moderation seemed to have slipped from my focus. A few weeks back I wrote on the meaning of life. I never noted the take home of my satire as I went from caring for others to the number 42. But in my own mind as I processed all those life perspectives I decided for myself this meaning. It was balance. Take care of others yet be mindful of your own needs and progress. Be serious but remember 42.
In those two hours to South Haven and back as I pieced together my own clear doing in the recent trip through the air I realized my error. The bike ride was great but I needed balance. Connecting to nature was fantastic but it needed balance. And, somehow along the way I allowed my own drive (little devil) to usurp balance. Note to self and friends who share my problem - Please connect to nature on a daily basis. Insidedness is consuming our children and contributing to the obesity rate in America being 1/3 of the population. But killing yourself in an attempt to live forever isn’t very productive. It’s still summer, so eat some ice cream once in a while.