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  • Writer's picturepamradtkerussell

Life is Not a Race. Maybe it's Time to Readjust Your Route

Everything I need to know about life I learned from bike riding. (lesson no. 1)

I love to ride my bike.

Hurtling down hills, taking sharp corners and just being in direct contact with nature and the outside world takes me back to being 12.

In New Orleans, where I ride, the river takes big turns, sometimes close to 90 degrees. One minute I’m riding with the wind, the next I’m riding against it. And sometimes, even if I’m riding on a straight stretch, the wind simply shifts midride.

When I’m riding with the wind, the ride is joyous and exhilarating and sweet.

Then, when the wind shifts and smacks me in the face. I put my head down and push forward, taking deep breaths in and waiting for the wind to die down.

But you know what else I do? I slow down.

And sometimes I just stop.

I get off my bike and sit on the levee grass and soak it all in. The ships going by, the sun behind the bridge, the clouds in the sky, the young children tasting freedom on their bikes, 10 feet ahead of their watchful parents.

Yes, sometimes the winds are to our backs, and life goes smoothly and wonderfully.

But more often, a subtle crosswind – maybe a rude person taking our parking spot, or an argument with a loved one — pushes us ever so slightly off course.

And then there are the headwinds — an evacuation for a hurricane, the loss of a loved one or a job — that makes keeping on our path nearly impossible.

In our achievement-oriented society, much like in sports, we are told to keep our heads down and keep going, no matter how stiff the wind is. Once we get past this wind, we are told, and we think, it will all be better.

But life is not a race.

Sometimes, we simply need to slow down. Sometimes we need to stop.

Get off our bikes and pause.

We need to see if we should adjust our ride and adapt to what’s happened.

And, we don’t even have to keep going on this path just because we’ve been on it for hours or years. The path we thought we’d always be on, or we thought was our only option, is really just one of many.

When we keep pushing through, and keep going on, head down without taking it in, sometimes we haven’t noticed the path has changed, that we’ve changed, and the path we are on doesn’t serve us anymore.

Maybe we can get off the levee, and ride on the street where the wind isn’t so fierce.

Maybe we can simply sit in the grass until the wind shifts.

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