Thursday, January 23, 2014

Let It Kill You

Sunday afternoon I sat around a garbage can fire in the parking lot of Carver Lake with the boys. My feet were wet and cold, the boys were farting and blaming each other and I was so hungry I could've snacked on my arm. I probably should've been miserable. Instead I was happy, content in my element.

The day had not started well. As we drove to the snow bike race I cried hysterically, caught up in a panic attack. My fear of crowds had co-mingled in my head with my fear of being in people's way on the bike. I'd convinced myself I would be racing with a hundred people yelling at me and the resulting worry had left me a blubbering mess.

Big E tried to calm me down with, "You know you don't have to race."

"But I want to ride my bike!" I wailed. 

Somehow by the time we got to Carver Lake, I'd quit the blubbering and decided my desire to ride outweighed the fear of being in the way.

The day didn't get much easier from there. The warm weather turned the trail to mush. I pushed more of the first mile than I rode. Two laps in I was riding with so much snow stuck to my cleats that I set my bike down, ran to the truck and changed into snow boots. I crashed over a dozen times- slamming my thigh into the stem, taking the handlebars into my abdomen and somehow landing in the fluffy snow with my foot stuck between my front wheel and fork. Regardless, on lap three, when I finally had the trail to myself, I realized something.

I got to ride my bike all day.

A short while later, I heard Red Squirrel yell, "There she is," through the woods. I'd been out there so long that he and Big E had come looking. They rushed back to the near-empty parking lot and held up the finish tape so I could have my own little finish celebration, even though I was the last one in by a long shot.

Not long after, we were there by the fire, with the boys being boys. Aside from the cold feet and hunger, I could've stayed there all night, shooting the shit. (Ok- maybe not the best choice of words considering their bad gas, but you get the gist....)

So how did I get there- from sobbing to suffering to happy in a matter of hours? Well, the obvious answer could be that I'm seriously bipolar, but I'm pretty sure I'm not, so I'm left to wonder how does this happen? The less obvious answer is more complicated, but I believe it has something to do with finding meaning in the suffering, with realizing that you can be terrified or exhausted or battered and bruised and still keep doing something you love to do. It's about discovering that happiness isn't a quick fix that comes with just a single moment or decision, but a much more complicated process that sometimes involves doing something you could never imagine might lead to feeling content.

I have no idea what exactly Charles Bukowski could've meant when he said "Find what you love and let it kill you." Like any quote, we will all interpret it in our own way, letting our life experiences guide our interpretation to fit our own ideals. For me, I don't take the "let it kill you" part literally. I don't want to die yet. So, I interpret this more as, "let it kill parts of you." Sometimes you have to tear out a little part of yourself to grow. Sometimes you have to be willing to leave a little bit of yourself out there so you can end up content. Hopefully, for me, what I left behind was a little bit of that fear and insecurity.

 Either way, I got to ride my bike all day so it was worth it, even if the boys were really stinky.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I have the race day nerves before every race (not the crying ones, but still…). Big E is good at keeping it calm and rational. For some reason, after the race I always feel better (except the physical injuries!).