Anaïs Nin was a French-Cuban-American diarist, essayist, novelist, writer of short stories and erotica. I only just learned this about her, but I have been familiar with her quote for several years. The full quote actually says,
“We see the world as ‘we’ are, not as ‘it’ is; because it is the “I” behind the ‘eye’ that does the seeing.”
I thought about this saying as I was listening to Durell Hood talk about his cross-country bike trip. Durell ran into many challenges along the way; fires, flat tires, grizzly bears, bad weather, but he focused on the joy of the ride, the people he met along the way.
The thing about touring on a bicycle or walking in your neighborhood or on a trail, is that it allows us the time to slow down and take in the scenery around us. It could also allow us the time to connect with people we pass, even during this time of Covid. You can smile through your mask. Make eye contact and nod. You may find that if you acknowledge another person, they will acknowledge you back. They may not, but that is not about you. You can still feel good that you took the step to smile and nod.
The Zen of the Ride
Do you remember the book Eat, Love, Pray, by Elizabeth Gilbert? The Zen of the bike ride is apparently Eat, Sleep, Ride. Each day was a new adventure that began with finding food and ended with finding a place to sleep and in between there was the ride.
Such a simple concept. What would it be like to have a day where you only focused on 3 things? What three essential things would you focus on? Think about everything you have done since you got up this morning. The simplicity of slowing down to Eat, Sleep and Ride orients you to being open to your surroundings, the road you are traveling on. You may take a wrong turn. That’s ok. You are still traveling, you can turn around, or you can continue on a new path. You will find your next place to Sleep when the day is done.
I am not a cyclist. Ask my son’s family about our bike ride in Florida. As soon as we made our first turn, I fell off my bike. It was definitely not a Zen moment. But I can appreciate the simplicity of slowing down, seeing things you would have missed if you rode by in a car.
Adventures come in all shapes and sizes. George Bush jumped out of an airplane at 90. Durell Hood rode his bike across the northern tier of the country when he was 56.
Adventure is defined as “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” But it doesn’t have to be life-threateningly hazardous. For some of us, riding a roller-coaster would be an adventure. Speaking in public could be an adventure. Participating in a protest could be an adventure. Any of these things could be frightening and some might consider them hazardous. And many times we may talk ourselves out of an “adventure” because of the fear, and then we end up staying home. You may miss that moment of Zen, that moment of confidence when you do something you could not imagine yourself doing. Nothing changes if you don’t try. You just keep seeing the world as you are.
What is one small adventure you might try in the next couple of weeks that could bring you peace, awareness of another point of view, renewed confidence? I would like to celebrate that with you, so please let me know in the comments.