“(What makes his world so hard to see clearly is not its strangeness but its usualness). Familiarity can blind you too” – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
I hit my go-to ride with the full suspension bike for a change of pace this morning. I felt like I needed to jump off a few things without rattling the bones too much. Seems like I’ve been riding this loop forever – up the truck trail for a bit then check the watch to see how high I can go up the trail before it’s time to head to work. Depending upon how I’m feeling, some days I get further than others. Once I reach the point of no return I then zip down the singletrack on the other side back to the car and head for the office, usually with a smile on my face.
It’s good having a fun, predictable local ride like this to fall back on when you need a midweek hit on the trails, but still need to get to work on time. When life gets busy, routine can be a good thing.
This morning’s routine got me thinking.
Most people I know work for a living. Most work a lot. Maybe this is the middle-age talking but when I was younger I didn’t just toil, I aspired. I set high goals. Of course some goals have been loftier than others (and perhaps, in retrospect, unattainable) but what doesn’t change is the pursuit. The pursuit never ends. But when the pursuit becomes routine it’s easy to lose sight of the aspirations and the goals become more fluid. This can lead to a watering down of ideals, and when goals become watered down the process can become routine and familiar – and of course, familiarity breeds contempt. Pretty soon the couch can seem like a better place to be than out on the local trails. That’s when the downward spiral begins.
Whatever the ultimate ideal may be, the routine that we build up on our way to meeting it requires frequent review. Routine is good for many reasons; it provides security, efficiency and control. For instance, when I’m slow on the climbing portion of the local ride I know it’s time to start putting in the training miles again (and drinking less beer!). But we often forget that while a process fit a project at the beginning it does not mean it will hold its own as it, us and everything around evolves. Change is good.
Well, most change is good. The five minutes longer that this ride takes me compared to a few years ago isn’t necessarily a good thing. But maybe that’s just a symptom of my inability to adapt to a new reality as I age? Identifying areas to improve and appreciating the changes required to do so is what’s rewarding about the cycle. By breaking patterns and allowing for introspection and meditating on where our journeys are taking us it can prove precious when we are all racing toward our various destinations and chasing our ideals. Otherwise we’re just hamsters on a wheel.
The local ride: everyone has one. What’s yours?