Today I went for another bike ride. It’s part of the “practice” of my life. It has “value independent of outcome. It’s a way of life, not a job with a clear payoff. A joyful habit. The right way to live.” An anchor in my life.
Another October, though here in Georgia it feels just like summer (and not the cool days of summer; temps were over 90 degrees today). A year ago I was in New York packing up my mother’s house. I had just pushed through a depression I fell into as a result of turning my life upside down. Three years ago, I had just returned from my solo bike ride across the country. I had just retired, and it felt like I would never get my workplace out of my head and my heart.
It finally has, of course. Did it have any choice, really? Time helped but it was pushed out as well by my daughters’ two weddings, my second less successful bike trip across the country, my separation from my husband, moving my mother to Georgia from NY where she had lived for ninety years, our making a new home together, her subsequent diagnosis and death from pancreatic cancer, and finally my divorce from Richard. Repeating it all in one sentence helps me understand the depth of what I’ve gone through. Like with my retirement, the months and years will pass, and this past year’s events will slowly become part of my past instead of my present.
In fact, they are already starting to feel that way, and what a relief that is. I feel that change on a day like today, on weeks like these past few ones. I spent a week riding the Bike Ride Across Tennessee just west and northwest of Chattanooga. It was bike camp for a week, with about two hundred others, mostly other retirees like me. We eat breakfast together, camp together, ride our bikes on the same routes, visit the same rest stops along the way, eat dinner and shower and brush our teeth together. I went alone but was never lonely. I visited my old Arcosanti friend Tal on the way home and stayed overnight at his lake house. We talked over dinner, we talked over breakfast, both on his pontoon boat. A friendship renewed. A week later was the Six Gaps ride
in North Georgia, a massive feat in my bike world, that I accomplished with just under a thousand other people.
In Athens, I am at home in my new house. A comfort that I like keeping calm and clean. I make my bed each morning and straighten up each day. The dishes get washed. I listen to podcasts and NPR and Spotify.
I’m still trying to figure out life post retirement; for certain, it is a journey, not a destination. Adult life part one had goal posts — marriage, children, job, career, retirement. Adult life part two only has one defined goal post — death. Otherwise, the rest is left up to me to discover. Right now, that life seems like a practice, a way of being, rather than a goal post.
Bike riding, involvement in my community, friends and family, Crossfit, reading books, the river behind the house, therapy — these are the “practice” of my life. They are my present that bring me into the future.
Quotes from “Stop Climate Change. It’s Hopeless. Let’s Do It,” an article that makes a lot of sense to me and reassures me about the value of my work on bike and pedestrian infrastructure.