It's Just Like Riding a Bike


Sometimes I just don't feel like going out for a bike ride.  One reason could be weather.  Too hot, too cold, or rain.  Sometimes I don’t have time.  There always seems to be something else I need to do.  I have a job, a family, and other interests.  The thing with time though,  is that I have the same 24 hours a day that everyone else does, and I can make time for my rides if I do a little planning.  It’s funny, when I do make the time and get out on my bike, surprisingly I can usually fit the other things in just fine.  

Other times Itake the easy way out and make an excuse for myself and stay home.  I always have the choice.  When I don't go out and ride, I get the instant satisfaction of quieting the voices in my head that nag at me to "Forget   it"  or “Just do it tomorrow”.  Tomorrow comes, and then stressful situations start to bother me more than they need to.   My load doesn't seem to be any lighter than it was the day before, despite my putting off my bike ride for “more important” things.   Generally, when I don’t get that ride in, I don't feel all that great. 

When I do decide to get my butt out there,  I have fun.  Sometimes a tire flats.  Sometimes a derailleur breaks.  Once or twice I've gotten caught in the rain.  I remember many of those days.  I don’t remember any of the times I stayed home instead.  Staying home and vegging out isn’t that memorable.  Every time I go out riding,  I have more fun than if I stayed home as those voices in my head had suggested. After a ride, life’s stresses seem trivial, and I generally feel pretty okay with my place in the world. 

Many times I get going on my ride and feel sluggish at first. My effort is creully rewarded with a blunt burning sensation from my thighs.  My lungs ache, my heart starts to pound, and I question my decision.  But if I keep the pedals moving, that burning will subside, my lungs begin to calibrate, and sweat starts to carry toxins,  stress and worry out from body though my pores.  I feel like a kid who just got a new toy.  Every ride is an abrupt change in perspective.  Rolling down the road on a bike is such a different experience from driving the exact same route.    It forces you into a new perspective which brings with ita different outlook.  Sometimes a different outlook is all you need for that enigmatic problem to seem less insurmountable.

Sometimes the sun shines brilliantly and warms my skin from the clear blue sky above.  Sometimes I clear a new obstacle or trail feature.  Sometimes I'm having so much fun I hoot and holler.  And every day I have a choice.  Do I make time for that ride or not?  I can choose to do what I know is good for my soul or I can choose to do what's easy at the time.  Our minds often favor the short term reward. It's hard to focus on the long term outcome and suspend gratification.  It’s not always easy, but I always have a choice.

It's the same way with my program of recovery.  In the past I used drugs and alcohol to cope with the ups and downs that are inevitable in life.  In addiction, as stress built up,  I would numb myself from feeling it.  That did work for a while.    But that only masked the pain and discomfort for a short time and there was a hefty price to pay in return.  That path took its toll on my life and I don’t wish to follow it anymore.  I choose not to live like that.  But, life still presents challenges.   I can choose to go to meetings and work my program to cope with those challenges the same way I can choose to go ride my bike.  Many times I don't want to do it.  Sometimes it's cold outside, sometimes it’stoo hot.  Sometimes I don't feel like I have time.  Short term wants often appear to outweigh the long term needs.  But much like when I do choose to go for that ride instead of staying home, when I choose to go to a meeting, or call another friend in recovery, or pray,  or meditate, I start to feel good again.  It's not always pretty.  Sometimes I show up looking and feeling pretty ratty.  Sometimes I feel like I want to hide in the back of the room and not talk to anyone.  But when I get my butt in motion, and get past that first step, and the more I participate and remain present, the more strength and endurance I have to face life and everything else seems to fall in place.  Sometimes I choose the short term gain.  I stay home because I'm too busy.  Almost every time I do that I start losing my resilience to face daily stresses and life inevitably becomes overwhelming.  I start to doubt myself and my experience of living suffers.  

When I started in recovery, I wondered why I had to go to meetings and work a program.  As time has gone by, I’ve learned something different.  I don’t have to do anything.  I can choose to use drugs and alcohol and suffer the consequences.  Or, I can choose to abstain.  If I abstain I still have choices.  I can live without a program and be stressed out, anxious, depressed, and lonely.  Or, I can work my program and feel content, useful,  and free.  After all, It’s just like riding a bike.