Cycling and Zen
Long-distance cycling trips encompass all the ups and downs of life. 100km days, 110 degree heat, carrying a heavy bike through flooded rice paddies, endless hills, flat tires – those are the down moments. The laughter, deep conversation, smiling faces, delicious mangoes to fuel another 10km, fresh lemon grass tea to soothe sore muscles, conversation around a campfire – those are the ups.
Both come and go and are unpredictable. The more you cycle the more you realize and embrace the fact that you can’t only have the ups. No matter how much you plan, how much you train, how much you bring with you the ups and downs are intrinsically linked. How you react is the key factor. Once you let go of trying to control the uncontrollable and embrace uncertainty, you can enjoy the ride and experience everything in its fullness.
“Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke (“Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower” from Sonnets to Orpheus II)