Cindy, my best friend and I have been working hard to get ourselves on a regular schedule of alternating between walking across the Ravenel Bridge, from Mt Pleasant to Charleston and back to Mt Pleasant. This is approximately a 5-mile walk; to locating and discovering the local bike trails to change things up from time to time so that we do not become bored, and inevitably stop all forms of movement. Okay, I cannot speak for Cindy, but speaking for myself, I will shamelessly admit that without change, I would get bored, which would be the end of my walking and biking.
Two days ago, Cindy and I tried a new trail that is not as far from the house as the paths that we’ve been riding; however, we still have to load the bikes onto the bike rack that is permanently attached to the Jeep and drive to the trail. Tuesday, I was somewhat hesitant because the last two bike rides have been the bike rides from hell. We each have a Sun Cruiser 7 speed bicycle with wider seats to accommodate wider rear ends. Now, I’m not saying anyone has a wide rear end, but we only see our 30’s and 40’s through our rearview mirrors, so… yes, the larger seats are much more comfortable on our backsides. Aside from the more comfortable seats – when you ride a cruiser your posture is upright, unlike riding a mountain or racer bike, which requires you to lean forward and down towards the handlebars. The mountain and racer bikes also have the teeny-tiny seats, but enough about bicycle seats. I believe I’ve made my point regarding bicycle seats.
Our bike ride Tuesday was a longer ride than the last two bike rides, but all-in-all we were happy with the new trail and rode approximately 12 miles. The Saturday before we barely made 6 miles, but this was my fault. My mountain bike had been in the shop for repairs and a tune-up, so I came up with the bright idea of loading Cindy’s bike onto the bike rack and going to the bike shop to pick-up my mountain bike. And instead of wasting time to bring the mountain bike home and get my cruiser, I decided I would ride my mountain bike without considering the seat or the last time I had been on my mountain bike. Had I been thinking logically, my back and backside would not have been the reason that we only rode 6 miles, as opposed to the 10 miles we had been riding on this trail. There is something that is often said about hindsight, but it’s a cliché and writers never use clichés, right? Right!
Although Saturday’s bike ride was painful, on more than one body part, it was just a bad bike ride, but as bad as the bike ride was, it cannot compare to Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day was already a somber day because along with it being Mother’s Day, it would have also been Mama Helen’s 92nd birthday. Mama Helen was Cindy’s mother, and Mama Helen and I had decided to adopt each other several years ago. I became her 4th daughter by choice, and she became the mother I never had. Cindy and I had planned this day out ahead of time. We were going to go for a bike ride on a new trail and afterward we planned to buy a lavender balloon because lavender was Mama Helen’s favorite color, write personalized messages to Mama Helen on the balloon, and go out to the beach to a private spot to release the balloon to honor Mama Helen.
We loaded the bikes onto the bike rack on the Jeep and off we went. We arrived at the parking area, and I unloaded the bikes from the bike rack. Cindy noticed that her front brake pads were rubbing against her tire rim, so I asked for the Park Tool Hex & Torx 3-Way wrench to adjust her brakes. We keep this tool in the quick release basket that Cindy attaches to her handlebars, along with a small tire pump. Cindy opened the back of the Jeep and couldn’t find the basket. So much for planning the day out ahead of time. There’s always some sort of execution when it comes to planning, like checking to ensure you have all your gear.
I loaded the bikes onto the bike rack again, and we were going to try to find a local bike store that would be open on a Sunday. We lucked out and found a bike store. I unloaded Cindy’s bike and rolled it into the store. The store clerk made a small adjustment to the front brakes, and in less than a minute we were off. I loaded Cindy’s bike back onto the bike rack again, and we decided that since we were closer to the beach than our bike trail that we would go buy the lavender balloon and find that quiet spot out on the beach. After two stops we found a lavender balloon. Cindy wrote her message to Mama Helen and handed me the balloon and black permanent marker pen. As Cindy drove, I began writing, and I’m sorry, but when it comes to writing, sometimes I overdo it. I was so close to completing my message to Mama Helen when Cindy, without warning, hit a rut in the road at the very moment I had finished one line and was starting another – pop! The balloon exploded into four pieces. I could only look at Cindy and she at me.
We were both now thoroughly exasperated. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go back and get another lavender balloon, but by this time we had used up three hours and we still had to ride the trail. Due to our frustration and the time of day, Cindy decided that we would get a balloon on another day and go out to a different beach to release the balloon to honor Mama Helen. We decided to return to the bike trail. I unloaded the bikes AGAIN, and we were off. We completed our bicycle ride without any further incidents, loaded the bikes onto the bike rack and returned home.
While I have been writing about bicycle rides, planning and decisions here; what I have written can be related to most things in life. For me, it is writing. There are days that I have my writing planned out and the day becomes one that is likened to Mother’s Day, and all the plans we had made to honor Mama Helen, and ride a trail, and yet for every idea we had, there was something that got in the way of each plan. And this often happens when I believe I am ready to spend the day on my laptop. Life happens, and the unplanned nuances of life change our entire day for us, and I don’t get to open my notebook to write. Some would call this writer’s block, poor planning, mismanagement, etc.. Some would be right; however, sometimes life presents events and mishaps that just happen. It’s part of life, and it’s going to remain part of life.
While I was pedaling on Tuesday, I began to think about Hemingway and how he celebrated and played from the time he awakened in the afternoons and would continue into the evenings before he would return home and seclude himself to write into the early hours of the morning. He would then slumber for a few hours before rising and repeating the same cycle as the previous day. I knew the bike ride was good for me, but there was a part of me that resented the ride because I had yet to write. I can’t play and write afterward as Hemingway did.
I suppose I am trying to figure out how to make it work for me. I believe that I am discovering what works best for me is to seclude myself in the mid-morning, a couple hours after waking. This is the time that I find I have the most creative tempo. If that tempo is interrupted by an appointment, tending to the yard, riding my bicycle, or the possibility of a myriad of other life events, planned or unexpected, I cannot get back into my creative tempo. Life happens, and I must be present to attend to the things that must be done. For me, I believe I am especially wrestling with this mentally because I have been away from my writing self for so long. I’m open to suggestions on what works for you; how do you stay present in life while writing?