“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” – Augustine of Hippo
Some days I just want to run out the door from work and never look back, maybe even let out a bloodcurdling scream just to complete the scene and give my former coworkers something to talk about the next morning while they circle the pink pastry box like vultures around a carcass. Of course since I’m a little more pragmatic than that usually I just scope out the side door corridor for signs of upper management traffic, make sure there are no VP’s wandering the terrain then sneak out a little early and go ride my bike.
It’s not that I don’t work hard (I do, really) but my problem is I’m a dreamer. Dreaming is not necessarily a bad thing, but without action you can become just another fat guy in a cubicle scouring the internet for adventure. Luckily for me, I occasionally become a “doer” that gets outside for a while and pedals around for a bit as chaining a brain that wants to roam into a cubicle is never healthy. But as long as the coast is clear along that side-door corridor I can make the best of the situation.
Once free, there’s a place on the way home right off the freeway where I like to roam for a bit before returning home for dinner. It’s not a world-class riding spot but it’s twisty, flowy and quite a bit of fun: the San Clemente Singletracks. This sliver of land was almost obliterated to make way for a toll road a few years back but thanks to action by the community (mainly the surf community as the world-famous Trestles break is right down the road) it was saved. In addition, trails built on this land by mountain bikers that were once considered illegal were incorporated into the official State Park trail network to increase its intrinsic value to the community and provide additional ammunition to stop its destruction. It was a”win” for the entire community, and not just for the human wildlife that uses this land. Wildlife needs corridors like this to survive.
What’s a wildlife corridor? Wildlife corridors are essentially routes that allow for the free exchange of individuals between populations. Human encroachment into what remains of our unspoiled areas pinches off populations of animals into fragmented groups that threatens the health and biodiversity of those that remain, especially large predators like mountain lions of which we have quite a few in these parts. If there’s one thing that mountain lions have in common with a dreamer in a cubicle it’s that mountain lions need to roam. We all need these corridors and I’m fine with sharing mine with others.
A perfect example of how larger predators use these corridors is illustrated by reading of the sad plight of a radio-collared mountain lion in San Diego County. After leaving his mother, the first independent movements of this juvenile cat’s short life were down the very same trails that I escape to after a day at work. Being a California cat, he visited the beach a few times before turning inland (probably found the crowds at the beach annoying) then basically walked though my front yard in North County San Diego while on his way to greener pastures in the less populated interior. If I had looked out my front window at the right time I probably could’ve seen him walking by. Looking at his movements, I find it incredible that he made it as far as he did as these are some incredibly populated areas with vehicle traffic beyond belief. Amazing.
When I look at his tracks I see my own meanderings within San Diego County. I see myself riding the afternoon on-shore breeze up the San Luis Rey River Valley on my road bike as I wind toward Palomar Mountain. I see the trail system at Daley Ranch in Escondido where I have been mountain biking for years. I see the route of my own Palomar Puzzler Race near Santa Ysabel and Julian, the lonely desert mountains of Anza Borrego State Park where I fat bike in winter and the graceful plunge down the technical trails of Noble Canyon in the Laguna Mountains. Looking at his wanderings I feel a kinship with a fellow wanderer, albeit one with nowhere near his power and grace. I feel part of his natural world beyond mere facts and figures, forever linked by the sweat and toil of my travels that rose and fell with my breathing just as the golden hills of San Diego continue to unfold before dawn. It connects me to the soul of a place that can at times seem soul-less.
Which is why on certain days I’ll continue to eye the side-door corridor of the office for any signs of human activity. Pacing the floor of my cage until the moment is right, I’ll seize the opportunity for escape and burst out that door to face the daylight without a second glance back. The time to escape is now and the path of the lion is never wrong.