“I love the sensation of movement” –Ned Overend on why he rides, from Outridebike.org
Last evening the fragrance of the forest rolled down the mountainside into town where it filled my senses. On my bicycle today I follow the trails up into the origins of those smells, the beautiful evergreen forest canopy gracing the mountains, in the shadow of the rainfall. Evidence of last night’s rain is all around, banks of sand washed over the ground in rippling forms, still trickles of water braiding in rivulets beading down the barks of trees and through all the meandering canyons, infusing the air we breathe and carried on the wings of the breeze.
I’ve been waking up to the beauty of movement lately, thinking of all the special places I can go on foot and on bicycle. I don’t take that for granted anymore. Especially as I see more people take up the habit of exploring our world and being healthier and living life via walking and cycling. There is nothing more beautiful to me than people out moving naturally on the earth.
“Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind. The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself, enlightenment.” –Shunryu Suzuki
I think there are many ways to go places in this world, and just like love can be expressed in all vocations from farming to carpentry to management, we can tune in and pay attention whether we are moving, on foot, car, truck or bike, or standing still. But for me the bicycle has been revolutionary. Cycling extends my range but manages to keep me connected at a human scale.
I love cycling up a climb like La Luz. Even though I’m moving, my mind stands still and I become concentrated on my breathing. I’m like a swinging door, breathing in, breathing out, aware now I’m interdependent on the oxygen in the air. I have to work at the pedal stroke, but somehow that relaxes me. Two legs make one motion. When I get to the top of a climb satisfaction flows into me. Somehow my thirst is quenched. I feel replenished. From home I climbed up into the mountain light. I receive insights and perspective. And I can turn around and draw a line with my bike, a connecting thread back to my home. We need movement like the Earth needs water.
“That is why Buddha could not accept the religions existing at his time. He studies many religions but he was not satisfied with their practices. He could not find the answer in asceticism or in philosophies. He was not interested in some metaphysical existence, but in his own body and mind, here and now. And when he found himself, the found that everything that exists has Buddha nature.” –Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
As I reflect on all the people pedaling around our city environs, and realize there is a mixed record of land uses and varying impacts on environmental quality we experience while cycling, what Barry Lopez had to say in his book Horizon gives me a hopeful perspective. The fact that today exists means there is hope now. And even in these landscapes that have been altered so severely, often times for only one reason, the possibility still exists to see things whole and in the big picture. There is still a lot to work with in the here and now, and all the time in the world to create our next dreams. Every time I go for a ride, or see other people moving with natural grace, I feel like I am part of that, like I’m experiencing today the original creation, unfinished and ongoing, unfolding like a a flower. When I’m on my bicycle I feel open to all this.
“Even in this logged-over landscape, soaked and gleaming, contradicting the apparent desolation of the clear cut, where stillness now accompanies the silence, I can imagine something like the original creation however mythic that thought might be. Or the blueprint of another creation, unknown and unplanned” (Barry Lopez, Horizon, p. 129)
I’m really grateful for the bicycle.
“Keep Moving” –Grandma