I love walking. I love the first breath of outside air after leaving the house. I love feeling the squishy-firm contour of my sneaker's arch where it meets my foot as I take my first steps. I love the excitement of seeing new things: a bird's nest; a new dog; a flower in bloom. I love hearing the thump, thump, thump of my feet against Summer's pavement, the swish, swish as they push through Fall's dried leaves, and the crunch of Winter's crushed snow and ice. I love the rhythmic sensation of arms swaying in alignment with legs; muscles contracting and relaxing with each stride; and thoughts meandering without cause. I love that when no other mode of transportation exists, my feet will lovingly take me where I want and need to go.
Over the past 10 months, no longer surrounded by sirens, buses, and crowded city streets, I discovered the freedom and joy of bike riding. With two wheels and some pedal power, my heart rate soared as I sped down flat, open, small-town streets. I felt as if I was flying as the wind whizzed past my ears, and I returned home with leaden legs and a feeling of freedom and triumph. I love the ability to get on my bike and go - no key to keep track of; no gas tank to fill; no parking space to fit into; just me and my bike. Free. I especially loved the quickness and ease of riding my bike when I started teaching classes across town this Fall. With the car parked 5 miles away at my husband's job, my bike became a necessary mode of transport. In a short 15 minutes I was there, warmed up, and ready to go.
Recently, after my bike lost a very small, very integral part that left it powerless to transport me anywhere I took to walking as my only form of transportation to get me to class. During the past month I have progressed through a range of emotions stemming from that small, missing part that immobilized my bike and stole its speed and convenient transportation from me. At first, "gratitude" bathed my emotional landscape: for my two good feet, warm clothes, and the exercise opportunity walking 27 minutes one way gave me. Next, "annoyed" came to play: with my bike broken, I had to leave the house 15-20 minutes earlier to arrive on time; I arrived late, more than once. Around week 3, "aggravated" appeared because walking an hour to teach a half an hour class seemed ridiculous. "Anger" quickly followed: with no replacement part in sight, my transportation hardship obviously was not important enough to my husband to warrant spending money on an entirely new bike part when only one small piece of the original was missing.
And then, as I was walking home from class one more time, it dawned on me - I was walking. Rhythmically and methodically placing one foot in front of the other I realized that my bike did not break to annoy and frustrate me or to cause marital tension and late arrivals. It broke, blessedly stopped working, exactly when I needed to rediscover the joy of walking. My bike breaking was a blessing, a beautiful blessing. With that mind altering realization I stopped cursing my bike, and my husband, and started walking again for the pure pleasure of it. Full circle, I returned to "gratitude" for the invaluable gift that missing part has given me and I look forward to the day that my bike is mobile, once more.