As I headed out on my weekend bike ride the other day, I noticed a familiar sensation. Just a few minutes into the ride, I felt my mood improve and my spirits lift. Actually, I felt a sense of freedom. So, I began to wonder why I sometimes procrastinate going out to ride. Or, why I sometimes even make excuses not to go.
About 10 minutes into the ride, I recognized another common experience. But this time it didn’t relate to my bike. I realized how I often get the same sense of freedom of spirit when I finally sit down to write. Like cycling, writing is often something I put off initially. I think of dozens of household chores or business tasks to do first. But, once I start churning out the words, I don’t want to stop. Ever. Well, at least until I run out of things to say or my brain tires out.
As I pedaled along the bike path, these thoughts simmered in the back of my mind. I let the question of why of put off tasks that nurture my soul percolate while I focused on my ride. I often get clarity or inspiration while riding. It just kind of pops up into my conscious mind without any effort. Suddenly, I just know something is true, or have the answer to a problem stewing in my mind.
How Writing Is A Lot Like Riding
It worked again. I think I was taking a short break when I realized writing has the same effect on me. I don’t know how often I’ve sat down to write, not really knowing where I’m headed. Sometimes I have an outline, but often I just have this idea in the back of my head. It’s simmering, percolating, stewing. Then, as I sit down to hash out the idea in written words, clarity slowly seeps in. My ideas begin to form a complete picture, and I feel a sense of direction of where I want to go with the piece I’m writing.
Next, I decided to play a little with this analogy – how writing is a lot like riding. Fortunately, I was riding along the Spring Water Corridor without the distraction of cars. So, focusing a bit on my thoughts was a relatively safe thing to do. I directed my mind, as best I could, to find other commonalities between the two activities, and to perhaps discern why they had such a freeing impact on me.
Where Riding and Writing Intersect
First, writing and riding were not particularly easy at first. I remember riding my first 10 mile ride and being tired for a week! I was training for a bike trip to Italy, and riding an average of 33 miles a day just seemed impossible to accomplish and to enjoy. Yet, after only a month or two of consistent riding, I was easily riding 20 miles a few times a week. I admit to a bit of pride in watching myself progress so quickly.
Similarly, when I first started blogging about four years ago, I never would have dreamed I’d be blogging as much as I do now. Those first few blog posts were actually a bit arduous. I struggled not only with the words, but also with the concept of writing. “I’m not a writer,” I told myself. Well, at least when it wasn’t for school. A few months later, I noticed it was a lot easier to write the blog posts. In fact, I was starting to enjoy it.
Second, I wasn’t particularly good at riding or writing when I first started. Or, let’s just say there was room for improvement. I vividly remember feeling a bit jittery on the bike at first. I’d twitch a bit every time a car would pass or if I hit a bump in the road. The bike also felt just a bit awkward to maneuver and to sit on. Now, after a decade of riding and thousands of miles in the saddle, riding feels natural. It’s almost like an extension of me – like this is the way I’m meant to travel, despite the aches and pains that come with age. (That’s why I guess there are many shapes and sizes of bikes.)
Likewise, my writing has improved the last few years – well at least that’s how I feel. I didn’t really notice the progress until I went back and read some of my earliest blog posts. I noticed not only a change in style, but also a change in tone and personality. My earliest blogs seemed a little forced or stiff in some ways, and perhaps even a little awkward. Now, I seem to let more of myself flow through my words. I’ve learned how to express myself in a freer and more natural form. Writing seems to be a way for me to communicate with my readers and with myself.
A Good Tired
Third, writing and riding give me what I call a good tired. After a good bike ride, I’m physically tired for sure. However, it’s not a bad thing. I feel energized in a way, despite my physical exhaustion. Similarly, after I write for a few hours, my brain is tired. Thinking almost hurts. Again, it’s not a bad thing. I feel somehow more complete, if that makes sense. It’s as if I nurtured myself through written expression, even though my energy feels spent.
Living My Story
Amazingly, at least to me, I create a circle of energy and inspiration when I write or ride. Counter intuitively perhaps, I create this effect by spending energy and tapping into my inspiration. It’s almost enough to make me believe in perpetual motion. Somehow, spending energy creates more. Or, possibly opening my soul and pushing my limits expands both. Always in the end, the effort is worth it. I feel more in touch with myself and with my connection to the world around me.
So now I sit here and wonder why I postpone my inspirational experiences so much. Am I caught in a cycle of instant gratification where I want to avoid any hard work despite the rewards? Or, maybe I wonder, there’s an inner voice trying to deny myself my passions. I don’t really have the answers, but perhaps the next ride or writing session will bring an epiphany.
Yet, this I do know. Once I push through the urge to postpone and procrastinate, I never regret it. I move into almost another realm of existence, where I’m completely in tune with my spirit. My soul starts to sing. And when that happens, I know I am living my story.