Friday, January 04, 2013

Janathon 2013 Day 4: In the moment

Cycling - 15.5 miles, Time - 1h 11m, Weather - cloudy

The weather today would have been unremarkable if it hadn’t been for all the other days but at the moment no rain or heavy grey skies should be celebrated. So I took to my bike along the country lanes, up and down a few hills, and enjoyed the views and the feeling of hard work going up before the release of going down. It was fun;  not highly charged as if suddenly everything felt alive and full of zest but more restrained in an english  “you know this is really quite nice” sort of way.

When going down hill along twisty lanes with hedges that obscure the view I go much slower than is possible. All the time I am thinking ahead, wondering if there is a car behind the next bend, keeping to my side of the road and preparing to take avoiding action. It kills the freedom of sweeping descents where you can use the apex of the corners and go for the best line but it seems like the best thing to do.

It got me thinking about whether I was actually living in the present or the future because I was thinking about nothing else other than the descent and handling my bike but at the same time I was thinking ahead, even if the time frame was short. It is rather academic because all that matters is that I was concentrating and fully absorbed however it does lead me to the Stoic quote of the day about the living in the moment.  It is from a letter of Seneca where he talks about fear and hope being bound together because we project our thoughts forward instead of adapting to the presents. In other words  although forethought is one of our greatest gifts it can also be a curse:
“Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come. A number of our blessings do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present.”
On my ride I was really like that animal (though not at all wild I hasten to add), I reacted to potential dangers but once past I forgot them. When home all I was left with was a tingly feeling on the skin  from exertion in coldish air, and the memory of the muscular pleasure of turning the pedals.

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