Air Supply*

I went on a bike ride yesterday with a friend. I was looking forward to it. We were only going to take a quick ride – maybe 5 or 6 miles – and I haven’t been out on the bike in a while. Since we’re doing the Cycle for Life ride in a few days, it’d be a good thing to get out for a quick spin. Right?

Oh, man. Less than a mile in, I was really starting to wonder about myself. I was not keeping up well, and we weren’t going fast at all. And we were on the bike trail. This is not the big hill on Fulton Road. It’s the bike trail, for Heaven’s sake.

Two miles in, I was kind of panicking. “This is way too hard,” I said to myself. “Have I lost ALL aerobic capacity? I mean, I know I haven’t been out on the bike in a while, but I’ve been doing other things. Walking. Lifting. The exercise bike in the basement. It’s not nothing. Can I really be this out of shape?”

It appeared that the answer was a resounding YES. I actually told my friend to go on ahead to her goal point, turn around, and catch me on the flip side, because I needed to catch my breath.

Shortly after she joined me again, I was galumphing along thinking that I was seriously going to have to reevaluate my ideas about the acceptable level of activity in my life because how humiliating, and I happened to glance down.

At my quite flat front tire. In fact, both my tires were pretty flat. Which meant all of this was really a lot harder than it had to be.

It looks so innocent, doesn’t it? Not at all like a torture device.

Neither of us had a pump along, and I wasn’t actually going to damage them, so I just soldiered on. But it was truly amazing how much better I felt about it. As I told my friend, it’s not that I mind working hard. But that shouldn’t have been so hard.

And so, as I sweated my way through the last couple of miles, I was thinking about how very much perspective matters. I really didn’t mind what I was doing because I understood why things were the way they were. (And I really should have figured out the low tires sooner but we were talking about our kids and I was busy worrying that I had suddenly and without explanation developed the lung capacity of a ninety-year old chain smoker, so my brain wasn’t fully engaged.)

Unfortunately, when I am slogging along in life and thinking I should really be better at this by now and I thought I had been training for this and WHY IS THIS SO HARD?!? … well, it’s not usually so easy to figure out the answer. But it might be worth remembering that a perspective shift could help.

It might NOT be that I have failed utterly, have no idea what I’m doing, and will never reach my goals. It might be that I’m running along on as-yet-unidentified flat tires, and maybe I should give myself a break.

If nothing else, my friend got a good laugh, and I will definitely remember to check the tires before our ride on Saturday. So it was worth it.

*This title is mostly for my college roommate, who will laugh at me when she reads it. She was listening to Blind Melon obsessively our entire freshman year, though. Glass houses, etc.

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