On any surface, there is a line of least resistance for your bicycle. Let’s call this the A line. On pavement, the A line may be wide and not something you need to think about. On other substrates, sometimes the A line is obvious; other times you find it through a process of trial-and-error, assuming you are looking for it. Many of us will be satisfied with a slightly more challenging line. Let’s call that the B line. Theoretically, the number of lines is infinite, C, D, E. These are never labeled, but they are there.
By nature, I am anti-authoritarian. That’s not a boast. In fact, it’s a little embarrassing. Sure, there is a romance to rebellion, something cool in a raised middle finger, but any rigid stance that lacks nuance and thoughtfulness is probably the mark of a simple mind more than of an iconoclast. And it’s not always very helpful being contrarian. Invariably, I come into conflict with bosses, whether they deserve that or not. And the problems manifest in small ways, too. For example, if I’m not on the front of a trail ride, I will often look at the line chosen by the rider in front of me (possibly A, possibly B) and reject it just because they chose it.
I go the other way.
This is not always a successful strategy, rejecting, as it does, the input of the eyes who have already seen the prize. But we are who we are, n’est pas?
Once I understood this about myself, so much made sense. It manifests in all aspects of my life. I am attracted to loud, dissonant and chaotic music. I eschew all interest in bikes made by the big four. Rather than soliciting work from magazines, I fill these digital pages with my blathering, income be damned. There is an aspect of self-harm in this way of living, even if also a pleasing sense of freedom.
My wife has mostly chosen the A line. In fact, her decision making is pretty impeccable, which is why she is well respected and well compensated for her leadership of a large organization in a prospering field. It is not that the line she has taken has always been easy, but her grace, her dignity and her souplesse have carried her through, and me along with her.
I am grateful for her, for her ability to do the good thing.
Sometimes I wish I were more suited to it; other times I feel as though I serve a necessary purpose. Someone has to ride the other lines, to show everyone that it’s possible, or not. For every bloody shin, there is the elation of riding an obstacle which looked daunting, a difficult, high entry to a boulder with a razor thin spine, an insoluble rock garden. I feel an exhilaration from hurling myself into that void.
Is there any line there at all? And what’s on the other side?