Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bike Therapy

In the three weeks since I´ve decided to go biking in the morning, there were only four days that I could not, or rather, would not go because of “urgent business.” In each case, as the day went by, I found that that those urgent things not only could have waited an hour, but would have been very grateful for it.

I was surprised and then amused to find out that as the day went by, not only it was harder to find time to go biking, but that I resented the “urgent business” in question and took it out on the people involved in it. Here was I, crabby and cranky, and it was their fault too. But they hadn´t asked me to made such a sacrifice. It had been my decision, therefore it was my problem, not theirs.

This was how I empirically discovered this extra benefit of biking: besides all the known benefits to the body and to the mind, it is beneficial to my social relations. It makes me kinder, more patient, more joyful. Yes, there might be unreasonable people, unreasonable demands and unfortunate circumstances. Yes, the world might be falling apart, but I had my bike ride in the morning, and until tomorrow morning comes, that will do. All is taken care of. Life is good.

Bike Meditation

The trick was to go first thing in the morning, before the day´s worries, commitments and distractions noticed I was out of bed. The trick was to remember that no matter how important all those worries, commitments and distractions were, there´d be time for them when I got back.

At first, getting out first thing in the morning was an ordeal. It is winter in Brasilia, after all, which is not to say much, but it does add to the list of excuses for not getting out of bed to go biking in the early morning. I´d set the alarm to 7 o´clock, and at first, I´d have to hit the snooze button a few times before peeling myself out of bed, by which time I´d convince myself that it was way too late to bike. Nowadays, after biking 21 days out of 25, by the time the clock goes off I´ve got out of bed, got dressed, made and eaten breakfast, done my spiritual reading and meditation, and am waiting for the elevator (next step: start taking the stairs!).

Biking is meditation: 10.87km of meditation, to be exact. In these 40 minutes (plus or minus 3), I say the rosary of the day as I think of the day ahead and the spiritual readings of that morning. I pass by three Catholic churches evenly spaced through my route – so that´s six special moments of praise and adoration, petition and intercession, meditation and reflection, atonement and resolution, as I cross through traffic crossing myself.

I set out with questions and return with answers. I think of what I have to do, who I´m going to see, what I´m going to say, the email and the post I´m going to write, what I´m feeling and why that is so, and applying all these frustrations and desires against the pedals, I find more diplomatic ways to make my feeling known, to others and to myself.

Back in the game (3)

The idea now was continuity: to keep it simple, but to keep at it. Writing ideas visited her in torrents every day, just waiting for this kind of venue to materialize themselves, if she only gave them a chance. And if perchance they were shy, there were a number of games she could play to keep the hand moving across the page every day. How her day was. How it was looking so far. She could write biographies, her own or other people´s, real or imaginary. Heck, she could write her future biography, if she ran out of past events to talk about. The point was to keep the hand moving across the page.

As it was, this first assignment was to write 3 pages, but 5 came into existence almost of its own accord in a few minutes. And they even provoked the ressurrection of her blog, which had been active for three years. She made a note to herself to register this moment and remember how easy it was, for that days that she avoiding writing like the plague.

The idea was to move on to other things she needs to do daily and yet spends weeks without. The idea was to tackle them in the morning, before everything else, and to spend the rest of the day feeling like a heroine.

The next such task on her list was biking.

Back in the game (2)

She looked for it at a number of places, near and far. She looked at the mall and she looked at the market. She looked across the street and she looked across town. She wanted something simple and narrow, with drawers if possible, but not too many. But all she saw was considerably more expensive than what she had in mind. Especially if she couldn´t convince herself that she would actually use it.

After thinking about it for a few weeks, she thought that maybe one of the little cabinets she had in her living room was the perfect size for a “test drive.” It was small and it was narrow, pretty, but completely unpretentious. It also had already served with distinction in a variety of functions.  It was just the kind of support she needed.

Immediately prior to this current appointment, it served as a catchall counter: its function was to have ready for her whatever she needed to take when she went out, and it was always the first to greet her as she came back in. Though it´d only been out of that function for 24h hours, it was sorely missed there already. But to judge from its debut as a writing desk, excellence continued to accompanied it wherever it went. The experiment so far had been a tremendous success.

Back in the game (1)

She knew what she had to do, and yet she kept inventing other things to do first. She had created a writing corner for herself, after finding fault with all the other arrangements she´d tried before.

Yes, she did have a desk, but it was a computer desk, and it wasn´t adequate for writing by hand: it was too high, and full of other things like printers, files and cables. And for this kind of writing, she really preferred to write by hand.

She had a table, but it was a dining table. It was also a meeting table, where people gather to chat and to learn. It was an excellent table to spread papers around, but it wasn´t a good table to leave things on. It was too public.

She had even put together a traveling writing kit – a briefcase with all her writing materials, that she could take anywhere, work anywhere, and then put everything right back in. But it´d been like a month, and she´d never felt even remotely tempted to use it.

No, she wanted a proper desk, meant for writing by hand. And she wanted it in her bedroom, to keep her personal writing separate from her workspace, and all distractions it offered. Besides, she had just the perfect corner by the window, with a lovely view of the trees and of the horizon, and other things known for their poetic potential.