Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Walking the Bicycle

I hadn't considered before that I could choose to walk the bicycle.

Yesterday, waiting for a red light to change, I sat in my car thinking the thoughts of the day. As I sat, a young man walked a bicycle up Genesee Street through the intersection where I was waiting. He passed in front of my car's grille and kept going. Without much in the way of consideration, I thought, "Why doesn't he just ride the bike?" The notion in my head was that he was lazy, that he was somehow less than I would be in his situation. I was thinking, haughtily, that I would be pedaling even though he was making his way uphill in clothes that were more suited to work than to riding. I thought, "I would gut it out up this hill."

The light was one of those that takes forever to change and I had some more time to think about the guy walking the bike. I looked at his receding shape as he made his way up the hill. I thought that he was probably not sweating terribly, as I would be were I pedaling. I was surprised by how far he had gotten from where I still sat and by how effortless it seemed to walk and push that bicycle. I considered how far ahead I would be if I was riding my bike past him. The answer was that I wouldn't be that far in the lead.

It occurred to me then that he had made the right decision at the bottom of this hill to step off the pedals and step down to the ground. At the top of the hill he could remount his ride and glide down the backside of the hill to the flatter sections of Genesee where he would make great time and not work overly hard. I thought about it and it all made sense. Before that moment, I hadn't really considered the idea that I could choose to walk my bicycle up a hill and remain a good, hard-working, respectable person.


Yesterday, shortly after seeing the guy walking his bike, I got an email from a friend with whom I run. She is a dedicated and disciplined runner. She trains for races in ways that I have never been able to, holding tight to a training schedule and following through. More than that, she is a generous trainer of others. Unlike those shrieking coaches on weight-loss shows, she is quiet and encouraging, kind in every way as she takes people who haven't run a step since lollipop-age and helps them find their way through their first 5K and on into half-marathons. She has been reading my posts here and noticed that I was struggling. Her note said, in part, that she wasn't sure if she could help with any of the other stuff, but she was only too happy to help me get back out on the road running.

It was a lovely note to receive and, in part because I had seen the bicyclist/walker, I was able to receive it fully. Shortly after reading her note I went out and ran three miles. It felt good. I almost banged on her door as I passed her house to let her know that I was alive again. Instead of such a fuss, I wrote her an email. In it I said that I have been struggling and that I would like some help getting back out on the road.

I don't know about you, but when people offer me help, my first thought is to say something like, "no, it's okay, I've got it" or "I can manage, but thanks." I ward off help and try to steer clear of admitting that I'm in trouble. I'm the guy who keeps pedaling all the way up the steep hill even though the bike is going only as fast as I could walk it and I'm dying up there. I have so much trouble listening to anyone (even myself) saying that it's okay, you can get off the pedals, walking will get you there. I especially need to practice saying, "yes, please," when someone offers me their help.

I'm not much for projects and plans, but I'm going to give two things a shot for ten days. Each day I'm going to do at least thirty minutes of movement. My go-to will be running and I will need to reach out to people to help me with that. I run better with partners. The second part includes that reaching out. I will ask for help with one thing every day. If I do it for ten days, I might do it for twenty, and from there, who knows?

I'll start, in a small way, here and now. If you've read this far, would you please share a link to my blog with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+? I sure would appreciate it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to walk this bicycle up the hill and see what things look like gliding down the other side.

Write on.