Use your eyes to read or use your ears to hear, here!
In the womb, in our tiny selves, at 22 days, a single cell starts to beat and all the other cells around it start to beat in rhythm too. Soon, this divides and become our heart. 31 years later, I can feel this organ in my body: beating. One, two, one, two.
A heart that is lined with stories–a room wallpapered in joy and grief and fear and jealousy and desire. Desire.
I have this jersey folded up in my dresser. It’s white and blue. It’s got “Nickel City Cycles” written across it. I haven’t worn it in a while–a couple months. I quit the team a month or so ago. Then, my life was spilling over like a kid pouring milk and I just needed to stop.
Then, I found myself in my local bike shop telling my old coach that I’d come watch the race this week.
“Watch? If you’re gonna watch, why not race?” he said.
Why. Not. Race.
My heart began to beat again. One, two, one, two.
The thing is that so many things in this world and so many stories we tell ourselves try to simplify this existence. We try to say, “We go from point A to point B and then to point C and then it’s over.”
But, I don’t agree.
I don’t think that’s how it works at all. I think we mix A and B and C together and we chop some stuff off and we tie the line together and we snip away a little here and then we tie in a flower and that old handkerchief from our grandmother when she went to England, and the whole thing accidentally falls in the sink with the coffee grinds from this morning and that’s the narrative of life. It’s messy and complicated and I find myself reading my journal and I see that I’ve written, “I am a thousand things. I am a thousand things.” Even when I try to eliminate parts of my life, to make myself simpler, they call back to me; I am a thousand things.
And, then I am clicking yes to the bike race sign up and then my credit card is charged $30 and I’m racing in three hours and I’m getting ready to get that blue and white jersey out of the drawer and put it on.
We tell ourselves so many stories. We create so many narratives to get us through our lives. And, I don’t know. My story isn’t so simple. It’s not woman meets bike, woman works hard, woman wins race. It’s different. It’s up and down. It’s more than a story and I realize the best stories are myths and what’s the difference between myth and story. Well, myth is divine and it’s got a lesson.
And this story of me and my bike. Well, this here, this is a myth.
It’s a myth because it’s a bit divine. There was some kind of universal intervention. There was some alignment of molecules of space, of planets, of moons, of galaxies and then I was on this journey and I feel closer to the divinity within myself. I feel closer to the divine parts of my being. How can I tell that it’s divine? I just feel it: in my heart.
And it’s got a lesson. The lesson is yours for the taking. I’m not telling you what to learn from this, but the lesson for me right now is that I thought I could stop. I thought I could just end this journey. I thought I could just quit because I had a lot going on and I thought that the end is the end, and I thought there were rules. And, there are rules.
And the rule is that once you quit, you quit.
And the other rule is that you can do anything you want.
So, here is me writing again.
And, I’m not sure where this road goes, but I know that my life has changed in a lot of ways due to some intense winter training, due to me falling in love with someone really important to me and getting engaged which I never really thought would happen and the interior of me has changed and that wallpaper of my heart, that’s changed too. It’s full of acceptance and transcendence and still this desire. This desire to keep tying this narrative together. One, two, one, two. My heart keeps on beating.
I know that I’m not nearly as afraid anymore. I’ve taken that wall down. And, I’ve transcended place and podium. I’ve transcended even waiting to write about the race until after the race. The race is not the race. The race is the signing up. The race is the going to the race. The race is the sweat on your brow. That’s the race.
Since I quit cycling, I’ve been running a lot. I ran in a charity 4 mile run and I came across that finish line feeling like a middle school sprinter version of myself and I realize that I like running races because there is more people and maybe with cycling, I’m just looking for my competition. I’m just looking for those people who are as good as me and simultaneously as novice as I am. I’m looking for people to race against and this year, there are so many more people to race against. I looked at the list and I was bloody shocked.
What I do know is that I missed this team. I missed these tour de forces of women who I ride with. These women are role models. They’re my friends, but they’re my role models.
And so for me today, this race is a kind of new beginning. I hesitated to put this under Red Lantern, but this is Red Lantern. This is me glowing in the dark. This is a narrative that doesn’t quite make sense and that’s okay.
This is my heart beating. This is what my heart beats for.