As a prelude, I’d like to mention that I have struggled with weight and body image issues for a sizable part of my adult life. But this blog is not about weight loss/obesity. I will reserve that topic for another time.
I took up cycling as means to shed some extra pounds sitting on my waist. In no time, cycling became my passion and it is now an integral part of my active life. Well, this blog is not about the health benefits of cycling, which are more obvious than obvious could be. It is more than that. It is about the precious life lessons that cycling has taught me, in the process lending me a whole new perspective.
- You need to slow down to be able to smell the roses: In today’s fast world, we are in a constant struggle to outdo others and accumulate more than others. We are so fast paced that we fail to notice and appreciate small things that add deep value to our lives. Sometime back I befriended a gorgeous black stray dog, whom I call Danna. She wags her tail, licks me and escorts me till the bend every morning. Danna has been around for many months, but I began noticing her only when I began the ritual of opening the gate and dusting my cycle before my ride every day. Earlier, I would get into my car in a hurry and zoom off to work without even acknowledging anyone, leave Danna. Now, being greeted by Danna is one of the most pleasurable way I begin my morning, and I actually look for her if I don’t see her around. We have built a relationship.
- You may not know, but there are always some good people standing (almost as it strategically positioned) to help you get up when you fall: Sometimes when cycling long distance, we tread off on unknown roads. Tripping, falling and bruising are a part and parcel of the game. The world I full of goodness, and many good souls will rush to help you get up and dust, and resume your journey. In our hasty lives, we seldom have time to see the good side of people, most of whom are strangers who touch our lives in uncanny little ways.
- Some will fasten their pace; some will slow theirs to be with you: You are never really alone in life. There is always the company of well-wishers and friends, who will make it a point to be alongside you, in times of distress and need, even if they can’t do much to help directly. Their presence will make the hardships a little more bearable and the obstacles a less dreadful.
- There will always be someone you can lean on when you are tired: We assume that getting tires and acknowledging it is a sign of failure. On the contrary, it only means you have been trying hard, very hard. And most people understand that. We live in our own forts and fight our own demons. When we are tired and need a hand to hold, God almost always strategically places an angel to help us through.
By not being tired, we not only run the risk of burning out but also miss the opportunity to see unseen paradise.
You will need to occasionally take a short break to revitalize: We take greater care of our cars and bikes than we do with our body and soul. We do not forget the servicing date of our car but live perpetually with anger, ego, jealousy, and hostility, engulfed in which our soul rots to death. We do not feel the need to attend to our body or soul unless the poor thing breaks down and yells for help. A sick leave is all that we have to offer. Like every machine, our body and soul too need ongoing maintenance and servicing to function smoothly. Taking well-timed breaks, sabbaticals and time-offs will not only help the body rejuvenate but will also revitalize our mind empowering it to achieve greater heights and unleashing its maximum potential.
- This too shall pass: A good friend and a cycling enthusiast once said to me that riding on mountains is like ‘deposits’, and are inevitably followed by slopes, which is the ‘interest’. So to enjoy the interest, you need to make deposits. Well, in life also, every difficult phase is adequately compensated with a merry time when the sun shines brightly. The zen state when we believe ‘this too shall pass’ makes life much more meaningful.
- The journey is always more meaningful than the destination: We are so obsessed with having a bigger house, a better car and fancier vacation that we forget to understand the very purpose of these. The material things are only a means to the destination, not the destination itself. We forget to live life in its real essence and enjoy the journey along with our co-travellers. The real beauty lies in the roads and the flowerbeds alongside.
- Our only endeavor must be to complete the distance and not to beat our companions: Being ambitious and competitive is not a bad thing as long as it has a component of self-development and gives us intrinsic happiness and joy. However, more often than not, we become bitter and hostile in our endeavor to beat the best. A healthy competition soon becomes an awful fight to excel and in the process, even if we achieve what we had set out for, we have lost many friends on the way and missed many opportunities to smell the roses.
- Going solo has its own charm: We often hesitate to tread alone. When I started I would look for the company, but that was not always possible. After some initial inhibitions, I started going solo on short distances. Now I can go solo for long. In fact, I enjoy doing solo as much as I enjoy riding with a group. Solo rides are therapeutic and give me a lot of confidence. Fear of the unseen must not hold us back from walking alone.
- New routes and paths only make our journey more exciting and pleasurable: Every time we ride on a new track or route we come back with many new stories and memories. New roads also mean challenges in terms of unfamiliar terrain and threats, but they also mean new possibilities. For some taking new roads is a matter of choice and for some, it is the only option life throws at them. Whatever I the case, we ought to walk with confidence, hope, and a plan only to make every step count.
The unseen could be way better than the seen.
So, when did you last smell the rose or walk on a new road?