Gather my people and hear a thing you already feel deep in your soul. I will not attempt to dazzle you with heaven or to raise myself up higher simply by sharing this message. Ours is a simple faith, and one that requires not much in the way of a leap, and not much in the way of a leader.
Today I want to talk with you about faith in the bicycle. Regular readers will wonder at my pseudo-religiosity, knowing that I am ardently irreligious, which is not to say areligious. I’m an atheist, but I don’t really care what you are because what we have in common is the bicycle, which is sufficient both physically, mentally and spiritually. In fact, no matter your metaphysical faith, I still think we’re basically the same, because at root we all need this bike faith in order to go on living.
It’s a root level faith, empirically tested and reinforced.
First, a personal story. Last week or the week before (I don’t orient things in time very well) I wrote a piece called To Burn Off the Madness, which was basically about using the bike as a treatment for episodic depression. There’s nothing groundbreaking there. To say that exercise is good for you when you’re not feeling well in that way is easy, right? We all know that.
What’s hard, really, really hard sometimes, is getting yourself out the door to ride.
Two things I’ve learned about my depression are: 1) I have to confess when I don’t feel well. I can’t keep it a secret. Depression wants to keep me alone and isolated so it can work me over. When I bring someone else into the loop, I break that spell and weaken the illness. So I confess. And 2) i have to keep moving. I have lived through stretches where moving was the last thing I wanted to do. Depression doubles whatever the effect of inertia is on my mind and body, but movement is medicine. So I keep moving.
This is where the faith comes in, and you don’t need to be mordantly depressed to need this faith. You may be out of shape, out of sorts, out of motivation. You may be lonely or need time to yourself. There is a 120-Crayon box of reasons to want to sit still, to beg off riding, to just stop.
My mind will tell me all sorts of lies and half-truths when I’m struggling. The easiest thing to do is succumb, to listen to all that crappy static playing on my mental radio and wallow in my despondency. For myself, I’ve had to cultivate a faith that doing the things I don’t want to do will lead me out of the darkness, which sounds an awful lot like how faith functions metaphysically as well, but I’ll leave that for those of you who know better than I do.
Wherever you are in your life, whatever struggles you have, and we all have them, I know the bike will help you through. It’s usually the medicine I need most, especially at times when throwing a leg over and pedaling is the last thing I want to do. But the bicycle knows the way forward, and it very seldom leaves me worse than it found me. Amen, and pass the rolls.
We really hope you’ll share TCI content with your
patients who chew gum friends who ride bikes.