Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A ride, recently: Therapy.

It happens to all of us: A need to sidestep the frustrating, maddening chaos of "the world" that we're tuned into.  A desire to check out, to unplug, to gain a better big picture perspective by deliberately removing ourselves from it for a few hours.



Vacations work great for this but the time required to take one just isn't always there.


We 'make do' by using our weekends as wisely as we're able.  Sometimes weeknights, too.




One of the best ways of temporarily removing our focus -- from things that feel either beyond our control or utterly hopeless -- is to go for a mountain bike ride.  Not a road ride, where the metronomic cadence allows our minds to wander back to that which we want to avoid.  And not a gravel ride, because, well, those are usually worse.  

Nope, trail.  The more technical it is, the more removed from our normal headspace we can be.
  


So it was that Jeny and I found ourselves on our favorite tech trail a few days ago.  For well over 4 hours, nothing about Ukraine was mentioned.  Even though I *am* Ukrainian.  Neither of us uttered the words 'impeachment', 'betrayal', nor 'subpoena'.  In reality we discussed almost nothing at all, for we'd chosen a trail that -- technically speaking -- is really engaging.  So much so that conversation is difficult at best, at least for mortals like us.



For that glorious handful of hours we lasered in on maintaining traction through off camber corners, across slabs of rock littered with ball bearings, up steep, scrabbly grunts with funky, hinky mid-pitch moves to be made.  The climbing on this trail is usually steep, so much so that speech is the last thing on your mind as you focus on putting out as few watts as possible, the better to keep your heart rate in check for the yet-harder move just over that little knoll.

  


Fail to clean a move -- guaranteed on this route -- and you walk your bike back to the most obvious spot to re-start, catch three breaths while admiring the panorama, then try again.  As many times as it takes.



A good friend often reminds me that mindfulness makes the need to get out for a ride like this superfluous: You don't need to "do" anything to change your mind -- you just need to slow down and, well, change your mind.  

He's right, of course.  And we both practice that daily.



Perhaps it's because we've not yet mastered the achievement of a mindful state.  Or maybe it's because we know that exercise, endorphin incineration, focus, and concerted effort are all healthy endeavors in their own right.  But we find this particular 'solution' -- temporary though it may be -- much more satisfying.
  
Plus, we get to therapeutically smash some rocks along the way.



Thanks for checkin' in.

2 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more. And that is an amazing looking trail. The closest thing to that in Portland has become so over-loved that it is really suffering. Time to head to the desert!

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  2. "One of the best ways of temporarily removing our focus -- from things that feel either beyond our control or utterly hopeless -- is to go for a mountain bike ride. Not a road ride, where the metronomic cadence allows our minds to wander back to that which we want to avoid. And not a gravel ride, because, well, those are usually worse."

    ^^Couldn't have said it better myself.

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