Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It always gets easier

On Sunday I rode my bike 55 km over moderately difficult terrain. Yesterday I rode another 44 km. In the abstract, the second ride seemed like a good idea. I had already done well on the bike and the trainer, chose a route without any serious climbing, started early to avoid the heat and felt well-rested. I wasn't more than a couple of kilometres into the ride before I thought about quitting. Then it dawned on me that we had parked the car in the wrong place and that our planned turn-around spot was farther away than I had planned. That alone felt like a good enough reason to quit and try again another day.

My legs were leaden and they wouldn't move faster when I told them to. I felt weak on the hills and sluggish on the flats. With every pedal stroke I wanted to stop, to turn around, even to have George come get me. It occurred to me that cancer and surgery were pretty good reasons to quit. But those reasons are what kept me riding. I kept thinking that if I couldn't do this ride, under ideal conditions with no time or peer pressure, I certainly wouldn't be able to prevail when faced with greater challenges.

Nothing I was feeling or thinking was new to me. I am not joking when I tell my students that I always want to turn around after seven minutes on my bike. It sometimes takes thirty to sixty minutes before I start to enjoy myself. Then there are the bleak moments when I am working on an art quilt. For days and even weeks every idea seems worse than the last. I search for excuses to stop, to work on something else, to clean the house.

The thought that I pushed to the forefront yesterday was "it always gets easier". It happens every time. On the bike I start to move faster and faster and the extra speed seems to require no effort. In the studio one idea catches hold and lets me complete a piece, albeit sometimes in a very different way than in my original vision. And yesterday it happened again. We flew home after the turn-around point. Our average speed was much higher but more important I had a good time and didn't feel like I was struggling.

I know this may be odd but in my imagination I see a chart of possible reactions to any given situation. I have just added another data point to the "it always gets easier" column. I will rely on my imaginary chart next time I am thinking bad thoughts and once again my choice will be obvious.

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