Back from Fairmont, one morning this week, Paula suggested we go for a mountain bike ride. I was lethargic and not really feeling the cycling vibe, but figured I would join the revelry. As we rode along the paved path, Paula suggested that we might want to go on the dirt trail through the woods – but it might be a little muddy. She also mentioned that it was downhill and if we decided to go, we couldn’t turn back.

If that’s not sounding ominous yet, I should mention that with all the rain we’ve had recently, I’ve considering ark-building as a sound idea. Not only was the path muddy and puddle-ridden, there were large swarms of mosquitoes waiting to dine on any bikers going less than full pace.

A couple of swamps into the excursion, Paula suggested we turn around. Forcefully reminding her of her prior statement, I asserted this was not an option. For me, at least. With rational thought not equally distributed, Paula reduced her marsh coefficient and returned to the pavement.

I soldiered on through what was a much longer journey than I anticipated and far lengthier than the road back. As my legs and bike became caked in mud [see photo] and my thighs became mosquito fare each time I had to dismount, I moved through righteous indignation to a perspective of relief that at least I knew what would be my worst experience of the summer.

There are so many lessons for me (and perhaps you) from this two-wheeled folly. One is that reverse can be a useful gear in life. My “dog-with-a-bone commitment” serves me well in getting a lot of jobs done and reaching various summits, but when it is reflexively running the show, it can be trouble. It is useful to recognize that abandoning a plan or declaring failure in mid-passage can be good arrows to have in one’s quiver. One can be a “gamer” without being a fool. I could identify with Steve Rogers in Captain America who would keep taking blows to the head rather than back down in a fight. One can be a man and not have to prove himself by continuing to receive a beating – self-induced or otherwise.

I also ascertained how fervently I have tended to cling to anything anyone has said, with an inexorable grasp in how I wanted to hold him or her to it. It is more than a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Part of healthy human functioning is altering plans as conditions change. Noticing this beast and letting go will accomplish a lot.

Fortunately, the dirt and multitude of bites were a small price and fleeting pain for the valuable lessons from the mud and mosquitoes.

And I was certainly awake when I got home.



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