Note: I began this post two days ago, on Halloween.
I’m getting a late start on this one for a couple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I’m tensed to evacuate should zombies invade the apartment. Then again, if zombies are hunting for brains to devour, well, joke’s on them.
No, I’m starting late because at first I had nothing to write about – nothing that was particularly current or relevant anyway. I do have stand-by ideas for just this situation, but I try to refrain from dipping into this stash, for fear of sounding rehearsed or premeditated. Instead, I decided to wait and see if anything else would strike my mind. A regrettable chat online, as luck would have it, and thoughts streaked about faster than I could follow. Immobilized first by a lack of thought, and then by an overwhelming host of thoughts, I decided to get on my bike and try out my new rollers.
I got rollers so that I can ride my road bike indoors during the winter (I don’t want my bike to get dirty). Rather than waste time with a horribly inadequate description of what they are and how they work, here’s a YouTube video clip, and my results were much like the first 45 seconds of the video (turn the volume off, the whirring noise is hard to handle, and maybe hum or whistle a favourite tune):
Training on rollers is hard, and I’m quite awful at it. My balance is poor, my endurance leaves me wanting, and I’m pretty sure I make quite a racket (I knocked on my downstair-neighbour’s door to see if noise was a problem, but they were out trick-or-treating). I knew I would have a hard time, but I got the rollers anyway. I was intimidated by how much work it would take before I reap any benefits, but I knew the payoff would be worth the effort. And during one of the brief moments where I was perfectly balanced and hammering out a steady pace, I knew what to write.
I’ve come to believe that life is nothing if not constant training. Perhaps I’ve misspoken here, for this may simply be a summation of my personal experience, but I’m not convinced this isn’t universal. In something of a backhanded blessing, the car accident and my head injury have sharpened my focus to a clear, distinct goal: to always be improving the person I am. I’ve had this directive in mind for so long, I literally wouldn’t know how to function without it. To wit, unless I can find a way for a given task or situation to enhance the person I am, I have a hard time seeing the point of it.
Take cycling, for example. It doesn’t take much for me to justify making another cycling-related purchase. Sure, I get excited about shiny new things and, yes, I get a great discount, but the reason I value my bikes, my gear, and my work is because of the role these things have played in my personal development. Becoming a bike mechanic didn’t just get me a job – although, with my medical history, this is a huge feat in itself – it gave me a sense of self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, and community, not to mention the incredible health benefits. Although the decision to get into cycling held plenty of promise, it wasn’t always easy to stay the course. At times I wondered what I had gotten myself into, or if I was even physically and cognitively able to do the work. I felt like an idiot more often than not early on, and I still have flashes of ignorance. But that’s what training is for, to strengthen the weak areas, which, by their very definition, are hard to improve.
This position of perpetual self-improvement has me viewing the challenges before me differently. Instead of fretting about my deficiencies and failures, I haul out the rollers, of which I have many: emotional rollers to strengthen my self-control and resilience, social rollers to develop current relationships and navigate new ones, cognitive rollers to mitigate anxieties concerning new experiences, character rollers to keep my pride in check as I train, and the list goes on.
So if you see me at the shop and ask me how I’m doing, and if I tell you that I’m rolling, this is what I’m referring to.