When I started this blog, it was all about the bike.
I had another blog as well, at the time, in which I wrote about all kinds of other things. Then, at some point, I decided it would be a good idea to combine them.
So I did, and I promptly ceased almost all non-bike related postings (or, at least almost all postings that weren’t primarily related to my athletic pursuits).
The truth is that I am someone who needs a degree of external structure, and I had imposed upon myself a structure that said: “This blog is about bike stuff.” I didn’t have the confidence to change that, and to be honest I really still don’t. There is a part of me that sometimes wants to write about other things and then goes, “Um, but this is a bike blog,” so mostly I don’t (once in a while, I do manage to make it work).
This is all well and good as long as I’m riding a lot and charging forward relentlessly, making my life all about the bike and bike stuff. The thing is, I think that’s not entirely healthy. I suspect I have often used the bike to drown out other voices.
Denis adequately summed it up when he pointed out that I sort of have an athletic self and a nesting self, and they don’t tend to get along. Heretofore, they have really been like a set of twins grappling for dominance. The athletic self thinks the nesting self is weak; the nesting self thinks the athletic self is a boor — and while they’re probably both partly right, they’re also both partly wrong, and more importantly they’re both parts of me.
Of late my athletic self has sort of been in a sort of self-imposed exile — not that Athletic Self did anything wrong, I’m just not in a position to dive back into my athletic endeavours with anything like the usual fervor, so Athletic Self is basically sulking in a corner. In fact, it’s probably more like a self-imposed “Time Out” than a self-imposed exile, now that I picture it.
Nesting Self, meanwhile, has been having a field day (Dave, the house looks much better now than it did when you guys were here o.O) and, dare I say it, gloating a bit. Things are clean. The books are in order. I have been cooking a lot. The cat is happy.
And I — such that there is a coherent “me” in the midst of this muddle — have been thinking about how to be a more whole individual.
This past year has been very hard in some ways. I feel, more or less, like I’ve burned my wings on the sun. I have been through this long and grinding negotiation with myself in which I first became receptive to the idea that maybe I do, in fact, have bipolar disorder, but only on the condition that mine be a mild, Type II variety; then was forced to accept that there was no maybe about it; and then finally overtaxed myself tremendously with commitments during a manic phase and completely and utterly burned myself out. The black, awful low that followed — one which I discussed a bit, I think — was pretty shattering.
I did this twice last year: once after the insanity that was summer term, and again towards the end of the marathon-at-sprint-pace that was fall term. I managed to survive (and, a bit ironically, to make fantastic grades — two As and two A+s) by the grace of G-d alone. I know that.
I also know that I have been playing games with my own survival. I know that I will probably not, in fact, go to medical school. I know that I will think, in the height of my next manic episode, that I am capable. I know, on another level, that unless something seriously changes, I’m not. This isn’t a value judgment or anything: it’s just a statement of fact. It means I should re-examine the other paths available to me and pick the one that fits the best.
This, too, is part of being a more whole person. I talked to Dottie about this recently. She said, “You came in today with Thomas Moore sitting on your shoulder,” so I’m reading Dark Nights of the Soul now. Perhaps I’ll discuss it at some later point; perhaps not.
I’ve been pulling back, little by little, from the role I have built for myself in the G+ bike commuting community. I haven’t wanted to accept that. Now I’m starting to see that it is what it is. I am on my own Night Sea Journey and trying desperately to evade the will of G-d. Or, well, I have been. I suppose now that I realize I’m doing it, I can pray for the strength to accept the journey and see where it’s taking me. Am I going all the way to Tarshish, do you think?
I don’t know where my Night Sea Journey is taking me. I suppose it isn’t necessary to know.
None of this means I’m going to give up cycling. I love bikes; I love riding bikes. I can imagine a life in which I do not ride, but I’d really rather not imagine it. Nor does it mean I’m going to stop writing about cycling. Writing and cycling are both so essential to my being that it’s difficult to imagine a world in which they don’t overlap anymore.
What it does mean is that I’m going to try even harder to branch out; to write about other things more; to give voice to my restlessness and yearning and the doubts and triumphs of my soul. I hope that doesn’t sound too high-handed. I intend to write about more mundane subjects as well: like the triumph of my strawberry-banana blender ice cream, or the fact that I have somehow turned our guest room back into a welcoming and cozy space when only yesterday morning it looked like the aftermath of an explosion at a book-keeping firm.
I guess I should have known that this day would come. Change, after all, is constant, and I have learned that the best way for me to guarantee swift change in my own life is to grow confident that I have pinned any one thing down.
I pray for the grace to find my way through this jungle, which is to say, the grace to sit with my own Night Sea Journey. I hope that by the time I get to Tarshish I will have figured out what the message is I’m supposed to bring, even if I’m only supposed to bring it to myself. I hope, too, that I won’t argue with my whale when it decides to cough me up on some far shore. I have a tendency to do things like that. Perhaps I’ll learn.
I pray that I am once again awake and living, after the long darkness of last year. I pray that this is the beginning, and not simply a moment of clarity in the midst of pain and blindness — but if it is only a moment of clarity, I pray for the grace to cherish it for what it is.
That’s it for now. Keep the rubber side down, and watch out for whales bearing messengers.
*For some reason, my subject line fell off the first time I saved this. Weird!