“I don’t have to control my thoughts, I just have to stop letting them control me, as I have learned over time to do.” – Jon Katz
The last straw for me was a series of messages from my readers suggesting that I buy a three-wheeler bike made for children, the impaired, and older people.
“Have you considered just getting a three-wheeler?” one man asked me yesterday in a blog post. I could tell he was getting impatient with the drama not shrouding my decision to ride a bicycle last November.
But he misunderstood me, as often happens when people give advice that was not asked for.
I have nothing against three-wheelers or the people who need them or choose to use them.
They make perfect sense for anybody who feels more comfortable on them than a two-wheel bike for any reason – and there are many good reasons.
But I don’t need one or want one or prefer one, so no, I said, I haven’t considered getting a three-wheeler. It’s just not me.
I was in therapy on and off for 30 years, mostly for what was diagnosed as chronic and generalized anxiety.
I learned a lot in those years, but one of the most important was not running away from my fear but acknowledging it, accepting it, and confronting it. I’ve also learned to project, to act the way I want to feel.
This is up to me. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that all of life is an experiment, the more experiments the better.
That has worked; I have little fear these days and no panic, at least almost no panic (I had some on the e-bike). My doctors and friends, and my spouse have all confirmed that there is no physical reason for me to be afraid of a two-wheel bike, which I used to ride all the time.
But anxiety is mysterious at times; it’s hard to understand where it comes from or why, and the bike thing has me sick of myself. I’ve spent enough time in my life studying the mysterious inner works me. I’m just not that interesting.
Time to move forward with life and take my chances. When I sit on this bike, I am still terrified. But I can see past it. Fear, I learned, is geography, a space to cross. You just have to hang in there and walk through it.
I can assure you that one day soon I will be posting a photograph of me writing my new bike on a country road. And I know the road.
I know a part of this has to do with aging and the vulnerability it can bring. I had two heart procedures last year and had my prostate rearranged as well.
Each procedure has made my life better and healthier, but they have also made me feel more vulnerable. I need to work through that as well, and I will
But there is something else: an affirming, empowering resolve: I feel it deep down below my heart, know I can do this, so I tell myself just do it and stop thinking about it.
I see how stiff and wary I am when I get on a bike. Time to get to another level – calm, slow and confident. I don’t have to control my thoughts, I just have to stop letting them control me, as I have learned to do.
I decided enough is enough. I got in the car and drove to Saratoga Trek to meet with my new and valued friend Caleb, who has become, along with my therapist, my bicycle guru, counselor, a savior.
Caleb is one of those rare people of any age, an empath who loves to sell bikes and cares deeply about the people who ride them what he considers a sport and a passion.
His confidence and passion are contagious. He also took the time to understand me, know me, and even listen to me, which I deeply appreciate.
He is a very special human.
He is also about 200 pounds and 50 years younger than I am, but no matter, he sees right through my neuroses and pretensions. He has no doubt I can ride this bike.
After watching me, he confirmed my suspicions that there is absolutely no reason why I can’t ride a bicycle that isn’t charged up for space travel.
So I bought another bike, another Trek, eight gears, no computer parts or electronics. He also sold me back all the accessories I had purchased for the e-book at a reduced price.
It costs about a sixth of what the e-bike cost. We got it into my car; I brought it home; Maria came out to stare at it, offering at one point to take over the bike if it didn’t work out for me for any reason.
What I decided was that it’s time to stop gazing at my navel and do it, as the sneaker ad says. It’s really up to me, and I understand there are fear and shame and other old issues involved, but there comes the point where you have to decide to do it if it’s something you want to do.
The bed wetter in me says be careful, the old man says nuts to that. One day, the two of us shall meet.
This is something I want to do. There are beautiful flat and quiet country roads around here that I would love to ride on, especially on beautiful Spring and Summer days.
I love going to the gym now; I overcame that with a little bit of help, now onto this. Between the gym and some country road bicycling, I can love my heart and take care of my body. I’m not ready to leave the world yet; I love my blog, my photos, and having sex once more.
One day soon, I hope to love my bike as much as I love Zinnia and my car.
We have rain and cold the next couple of days, so it might be a while before taking my first real ride. I will keep you posted. I will take my time. Rushing is not smart.
Thanks to those many good people who write to tell me they are much older than I am and ride their bikes every day.
Wayne Dyer wrote that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. I think that can be profound. As I see this business of riding a bike differently, it will just be different. I’ve learned that lesson over and over.
We can’t always meet one another, but we can inspire each other.
In our confused world, there are many people eager and willing to tell you what to do and what you can’t do. But there are many more encouraging you will do what you and need to do, what you can do as well as what you can’t do..
Many of you had done that for me when I needed it. I guess this was one of those times, thanks. But when all is said and done, it’s up to me to imagine what I want and then go after it.