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There’s a thread on the forum this week about ‘Which jobs would be morally rewarding’. I think that’s a question that many of us ask, especially when faced with a big life changing event that makes us question how we want to spend our days. In many ways, it’s a lucky position to be in – for some, a life changing event triggers survival mode, with no headspace or financial room to ask questions or make a change.
It’s the kind of question that many of us will turn over as we ride along. Settling into the rhythm of the pedals, we may find other distractions left by the trailside, and the focus needed to ponder ‘what makes me happy’ or ‘what really matters to me’ can come into view. Other times, we ride, our brains a tangled mashup of thoughts fighting one another. We wrestle thoughts and bike over tree roots, up the hill, a frustrated stamp on the pedals matching our internal monologue. Tension and fizz, curses and stress. We round that final turn, dodge that loose gravel on the inside, power over the crest to the trig point and then… thoughts still.
Beyond us lies the hillside, falling gently away to meet another fold in the earth. Brows on crests on ridges layer off into the distance, the blue sky above fading into haze where your eyes reach their limit. The world is vast, and you are small. And all, is, quiet.
And yet, you realise it’s not. There are skylarks wheeling on high, there’s a crackle of crisp heather when you shift your feet. Sheep bleat. It’s not quiet, but inside your head has fallen silent. Somewhere on the fight up the hill you left behind your tangled thoughts. Often, it’s here, with all the other thoughts shaken to the bottom, that the important one will rise to the top. And with it, in that calm moment, may come the beginnings of an answer. That’s the place to start. That’s the thing that matters most. That’s the thread to pull on. You pause and breathe again, take in this moment of still, the quiet on the inside, the sounds on the outside. And then, ride on, downwards, homewards, with that end of the thread in your hand. Maybe as you ride you pull on that thread, spooling out the idea behind you, arriving at the bottom with the problem untangled. Or perhaps you just hold that thought tight, ready to place it before you when you get back home, a notion in unworked clay, ready to receive your focus, to be given shape and detail.
It’s not just the solo ride that can bring clarity. I’ve been on many a group pedal where someone empties their head, talks it out, and their problems are kicked around the group. Suggestions are made, experiences shared, troubles aired and worries heard. Group therapy sessions that progress along with skills and fitness. Life decisions gradually come to, agonised over and sized up like that feature you just can’t quite bring yourself to take on. Until one week, you do it. Feature conquered, decision made. The group, and you, move on to whatever is around the next bend, or over the next hill.
The answer to everything is not ‘ride your bike’, but sometimes riding your bike will reveal the answer to – perhaps not everything, but something. What questions are you asking?
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