I see him in the dark, outside my office window. He is struggling. Trying to pedal his bike through the snow drift. He pumps down on one pedal. Balances for one moment, one pedal up, one down, body extended. He teeters. Weaves. Loses momentum. Stops. Tries again. Finally, after several attempts he gets off his bike, moves it out to the middle of the road where the snow is less deep and bike on one side of his body, starts to run and push his bike.
Success! He gets enough momentum to hop on and keep pedalling.
He is still 6 blocks from the main road. I wonder how many times he’ll have to repeat the motion before he gets there.
We got dumped on yesterday and through the night. Snow and blowing winds, blizzard conditions.
Letting Ellie the wonder pooch out this morning was exercise enough. The howling winds had pushed the snow up against the door. I considered donning my boots and coat and mitts and toque on top of my pjs so that I could go through the front door and around the house to the backyard. Except. The side gate is also snowed in. Back to option one.
I pushed and pushed at the back door until I had enough room between the door and the snow for Ellie to escape. She had to leap across the drifts to reach the yard. Brave girl. She did it and within moments was back at the door waiting to get back in.
Marley the Great Cat considered going out but after a few moments of sitting on the front porch, he reversed his decision and high-tailed it back into the house.
My animals are smarter than that bicyclist I think.
I appreciate his commitment to the environment. But really? I think he’s crazy.
And I’m sure he doesn’t care. I’m sure that for him this is his thing. His way of making a footprint on this earth that benefits all.
Except, I wonder about the safety of riding your bike in this weather. I don’t mean the cold (when I jogged my cut-off for outside jogging was -20C so I get that you can dress for the weather), but when the roads are clogged with drifted snow and ice, how safe can anyone be on a bicycle? How much stability and control does one really have on roads like this? And what about the drivers? Their tires are spinning at intersections and four wheel drive or not, ice is ice and doesn’t leave much room for normal stopping and control.
Sometimes, we get so fixated on an idea or ideal, we forget to consider, what is the right thing to do in these circumstances?
I was reminded this morning of my penchant to affix myself to an ideal by my friend Ann over at The Year of Living Non-Judgementally. Ann writes about ‘saying the wrong thing’ and in her words, I felt myself cringe. I have been known to say the wrong thing sometimes. Not because I wanted to hurt or cause pain in another, but rather because, in my quest to awaken them to what I consider to be ‘the ideal’, or to speak my truth, I have let go of asking — what is the right thing to do in this circumstance for all truth to have room to be heard?
When trying to help a friend see that their desire to talk about a situation again and again was what their problem was, not the situation, I trod harshly upon their heart.
Not my job.
Yes, speaking the truth is my responsibility. But truth should never be delivered as a hammer or an axe. Truth deserves to be spoken so that others can hear.
Awhile ago when I was at a community association meeting and someone was yelling at me as an official from the foundation I work for, I asked them to please not yell. “It’s important I hear what you have to say, and I can’t hear you when you’re yelling,” I told them.
That was the truth and in speaking it, they heard me and chose to say what they had to say in a way that I could hear. In hearing them and in feeling heard, we were able to work on finding common ground. A Win/win for both of us.
But when truth is spoken for me to win and you to lose, it is not truth. It is me reacting in fear, or judgement, or loathing or a whole host of non-productive emotions that position you for failure. In the end, it creates a lose/lose because in overriding your truth, I lose the things I want most in my life and in all my relationships — kindness, fairness, respect, consideration, communication, connection, Love…
I watched a man push his bicycle through the snow this morning. When I ignore the reality of the weather outside, or the conditions within, I too become fixated on my goals, my needs, my singular belief in my right to do what I want because it’s what I want. To paraphrase John Dunne, I am not an island and when I act as if this planet gives me carte blanche to ignore the world around me, I create all that I don’t want in this world of wunder. I create my own failure to thrive.