A few days ago, as part of my continuing quest to figure out just where the hell I am with my life, I opted to join some good friends for an overnight bike ride.
We looped a trail that I'd stumbled serendipitously onto several years back, and that often calls but that I rarely respond to. Not often enough, at any rate.
And that's just wrong.
We climbed steeply right out of the gate, and the pitch rarely moderated for hours on end. Suffering isn't the right word, nor was it easy--perhaps 'focused' is the one that fits.
The visual currency that this loop uses to reward your efforts is indescribable. Perhaps never more than now, at the peak of a very good wildflower season.
We ascended for hours, reveled at the high point, reveled further as golden light flooded the upper reaches of the valley, then descended into shadow and scratched out a home for the night.
We shared our campsite with a steep walled creek and (what sounded to me like) a devastatingly lonely bird of some sort. The wind did not blow, nor did rain fall. I cannot begin to imagine a more peaceful place to rest, think, sleep, be.
Many mini conversations were had over the course of the ride. I've learned that I lack the 'processor speed' to really contribute to one-on-one discussions effectively, as I simply need more time to ruminate than most folks are comfortable with. On this ride a rain shower, a dab, a photo op, or simply a steeper pitch kept breaking things up, affording more time to think before responding.
While most of the personal questions my companions asked were lobbed underhanded with a certain tentative air, they eventually made clear that they were there to help, whatever that meant to me. And while few words were directly spoken as advice, what they did was to show by example how to pick up the pieces--the ones you *want* to pick up--and move on.
Sleep was good until it wasn't, giving me hours of uninterrupted stargazing to ponder my situation and each of the attendant parts.
I've always found it difficult to know if the conclusions reached from the comfort of mountainside pine duff have any practical application. Put another way, do the things we think of and decide upon when under the influence of such an idyllic scene have any basis in reality?
Sleep returned when it often does--moments before sunrise, moments before the others began stirring. Often, dare I say always, this means that I start the day blurry and bleary, and that condition does not improve until real sleep happens.
Not this time. Clarity and focus were there.
Moments later, while draping my dew-moistened bag on the sun-soaked limbs of a stunted spruce, I told myself unequivocally:
'You know exactly what to do.'