bike ride

Exit 160. Good week.

I don’t have anything insightful or earth-shattering to write about this week.  But it was a good week.

I went rafting on July 4.  That was a lot of fun.  I had never been before.  I got sunburned in a couple of spots on my legs.

I went for a bucket-list bike ride, which would become only the fourth time I have ever ridden more than 50 miles in one day.

I attended a Bike Party.  The ride itself was fun, as was seeing how everyone decorates their bikes.  A lot of people there didn’t really feel like my crowd, and the whole thing smelled of weed and tobacco.  Will I go again (this is a monthly event)?  Possibly.  I wasn’t as outgoing as I might have been otherwise; being a new experience, my introverted side took over.

I went to a friend’s birthday party and played games.

I baked lots of cookies.

Let’s hope I have two more good weeks before I go back to work.  How are all of you doing?

Exit 122. Everything is more interesting when you focus on the positive.

Last night, a friend from high school did one of those viral Facebook posts where you answer questions about yourself.  In this one, you were given a year in the past, and you answered questions comparing what you and your life were like in that year and what the same things are like now.  She gave me 2003.  It wasn’t a very long survey, and most of my answers to the questions weren’t very exciting.  “Relationship status?”  “Number of kids?”  My answer was “none,” both in 2003 and now.  I usually only share these kinds of posts when I have answers that are specifically interesting or funny, but I had no such answers, and I noted on my post that my answers for this one were kind of boring, wondering out loud why I was wasting my time with this post.

After I posted that, I went for a 25-mile bike ride… yay me.  I checked my phone during a water break, and I saw that I had two replies, one from another unmarried and childless friend my age agreeing with me, and one from my friend who originally posted it, apologizing and offering to think of some more interesting questions to ask me.

No apology was necessary.  I was not truly upset.  If anything, I was just being overly negative about being unmarried and childless, something I tend to do too often that really only makes the situation worse.  I felt bad at this point for my response… it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

But I had a thought as I continued my bike ride.  Instead of dwelling on something that makes me far more upset than it should, I’m going to turn this around and make it positive.  So when I got home, I thought of some positive changes that I have made and/or that have happened to me since 2003, and I added those to my post.  At the start of 2003, I had only been to 14 states; now I’ve been to 48, plus the District of Columbia.  (If you don’t include airport stops or driving into a state and then right back out just to say I’d been there, it would be 7 then and 38 now).  In 2003, I lived in an apartment in which my mailbox got broken into once a month, presumably by people looking for welfare checks, with neighbors who I could never tell if they were fighting or having sex or both.  Today I own a house (by which I mean I pay a mortgage) on a quiet street.  In 2003, I had never ridden my bike more than 20 miles in one day; today, I have broken 50 miles three times.  I had been to two NBA basketball games in my life up until 2003; now that number is around 80.  I discovered the music of Carbon Leaf in 2002 but had not yet seen them live as of 2003; now, I have seen them 19 times.

Everything is more interesting when you focus on the positive.  It’s not always easy, though.

Exit 43. A moment of childlike innocence.

I had a brutal week.  I had two hours of meetings after a regular-length day of work on Wednesday to prepare for the upcoming standardized testing season.  I also gave a test that day, which would take four or five hours to grade, so I had virtually no free time from Wednesday morning through Friday afternoon.  I also had a lot I was dealing with emotionally that I still haven’t completely processed, including a recent incident that left a student from the school where I work in the hospital (I do not know this student, and the incident did not occur on campus) and the sudden passing of an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen in several months.

So because of all this, I’m not really prepared to write about anything this week, and when I do that, I look through my old Livejournal from years ago and old Facebook notes I wrote.  The last time I had to do this, I had something in mind I wanted to share, but after spending an hour looking through all my Livejournal posts from 2006 and 2007, I couldn’t find it.  I just found it now; apparently I was looking a little too far back.  I wrote this in April of 2008.

The wind was at my back. I still had over six miles to go before I got home, but the pedaling would be a lot easier this time going with the wind. I was pedaling fast, probably around 17 miles per hour except that I couldn’t be sure. My speedometer has been broken for some time. To my dismay, the green light ahead of me turned yellow, requiring me to slow down and waste all that momentum I had built up. There was no way I’d get across the intersection before the light turned red.

As I stopped at the intersection, I looked around. To my right, two girls, one on a bike and one on a scooter, were getting ready to cross. They could have been sisters, but I couldn’t be sure. One of them started to move, but the older one held her back, since it was only the left turn light that had turned green and it was not their turn to cross yet. As I turned to look forward, I heard a voice over my right shoulder call out, “Hi.” I turned to the right and saw one of the two girls waiting to cross waving at me. She looked like she was probably no older than ten or eleven.

“Hi,” I replied. “How are you?”

“Good,” she said. “How are you?”

“Good. It’s a beautiful day out today.”

“Yeah,” she agreed as her light finally changed. “It’s been a good day so far.” She and the other girl began crossing the street.

“See you later,” I said.

“Bye,” she replied. Both of them smiled. They rode off, and I continued waiting for my light to change. And for that one brief moment, all of a sudden it didn’t matter what color our skin was, it didn’t matter that I was in a neighborhood very different from my own, it didn’t matter who would win the presidential election later this year or what the economy was like or that many would view a man my age saying hi to young girls with apprehension and suspicion. All I saw was a moment of childlike innocence and exchanging friendly words with my fellow human being.

Exit 36. Climb your tree.

There’s no way I’ll have time to write anything new this week, so enjoy this post that I originally wrote in September 2006.

So I went for a bike ride this morning, all the way across town. About seven miles from my house, there is this trail about a mile and a half long that runs alongside a creek. At one point along that trail is a picnic table underneath a big oak tree. I brought along one of those little green New Testaments that the Gideons hand out, so that I could take some time to read Scripture and pray during my bike ride.

While I was doing this, I was looking at the tree, and I thought, I haven’t climbed a tree in years. I’m going to try to climb this tree. It’ll be fun. I tried a few times, but my shoes didn’t grip the trunk very well. So I went back to the bench for a bit.

A few minutes later, I got to thinking about the tree again. I thought about how if I really wanted to sit in the tree, I could always try to climb on my bike first, which would give me more height and a better position to get up in the tree. But I didn’t. Instead, I kept trying to find a way to get up the first part of the trunk without help. I tried a few times and didn’t make it up. But eventually I did. I tried gripping the branches a little bit differently, and I didn’t get up when the going got hard. And once I was up there, I climbed pretty high, and sat there for a while and continued reading and praying.

As much as it seems hard to believe at times, not to mention cliché, I really do believe that, once you have a goal and are focused on reaching it (I recognize, though, that getting to that point is often a battle in and of itself), you can do anything you set your mind to. I’m proud of myself for climbing that tree.

What’s your tree? Go out there and climb it today.