On Practice, Peace and Obscene Hand Gestures While Pedaling

Sometimes my age or seeming lack of experience really shakes my confidence, whether in yoga, at work, in relationships or just life events. But then I somehow surprise myself—or rather, I’m reminded that most of the time, I can trust myself to slow down, to do the right thing or take the “right” steps, whether it’s paying my bills on time, knowing when to take a day off, say “yes” to a massage or stick to plans and spend a night indulging in pizza and cookies as my longtime girlfriend talk about our lives, dreams and desires…

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An unrelated but beautiful sunrise

This Monday, before going to a practice at the SportsBarn that was incredibly balanced and left me feeling like my head, heart and body were all on the same page, I posted on Facebook:

“Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but in many cases it does tend to bring peace.”

Even when my practice—whether it’s waking up early, flossing my teeth, remembering to pack a lunch, whatever! or going to yoga—seems too routine or boring or the same, I realize that the routine itself, the movements and actions themselves, regardless of how hard or challenging they are, give me strength and balance to get through the moments that ARE challenging.

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My FaceTime-worthy photo I messaged to a girlfriend about good news, amid my busy evening. I was elated!

One night this week I had packed my evening with people to see and things to do after work: meet Jenny to discuss Bike Walk Tennessee before she had to catch the 5:30 bus; pedal to Greenlife to get cornbread supplies and onions; ride home and make cornbread; catch Quint to discuss car sharing and otherwise catch up; make it home for dinner at some point. Somewhere in there, I admit I missed a few pieces, sampled a few beers at Greenlife (heh), talked a little bit longer than I had planned. Amid the busyness, though, it all worked out.

As I was pedaling up Forrest Ave. from Greenlife with my supplies, eager to get home and start cornbread, I was riding one of those adrenaline rushes that comes from moving through evening traffic with relative grace and speed that makes you feel faster than cars! (till you start up Forrest.) My breath becoming rapid, my legs starting to talk, I heard a car approaching, closely, from behind as another passed. The truck certainly came more closely than within 3 feet of me (and didn’t use due care, now the law in Tennessee).

I threw my hand up, with an obscene gesture, of course, and said, “Come on! Give me five seconds before you pass!” I saw the car turn left and put on the lights to reverse. Knowing I was about to confront (or be confronted by) a driver, I pedaled toward the middle of the road. The woman had rolled her window down as I pulled up, still breathing hard.

“What should I have done?” she asked.

“Just give me five seconds before you pass me as another car’s coming,” I said. She kindly said OK.

“And I wasn’t right in waving an obscenity at you. I’m sorry. I need to work on my communication skills,” I said.

And just like that, the driver—an anomaly in Chattanooga—who asked how she could have acted better around me as a cyclist drove off.

I pedaled up the hill, unsure of whether to laugh or cry or both. I didn’t do either, but instead kept breathing, kept pedaling, kept smiling.

Sometimes only through practice—and not perfection—can you find peace.

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2 thoughts on “On Practice, Peace and Obscene Hand Gestures While Pedaling

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