While in Australia, I have been taking advantage of the combination of lovely sunshine, and beautiful scenery of the Pacific coastline, to get back into cycling as way of keeping fit and meeting new people. I have also been participating in the odd cycling event along the way, not with any particular goals in my mind, just enjoying the ride. However, I have found myself wanting to get out on the bike more and more, and improving just seems to be happening without too much effort. I am sure there are technical ways I could increase my performance more rapidly, but I am in it for the fun, not necessarily to just achieve better results
Anyway, the other day I was out on a ride and, given I live among many hills, I end up having to cycle up a few of them every now and then. It is a hot and sweaty business (it is 30C plus usually) so perspiration often might drip onto my sunglasses. Therefore when climbing up the hills I usually take my glasses off for the 15min duration of the climb and then put them back on for downhill sections. So on one occasion as I was cycling up and down a few hills, some dirt spots, smears and insects formed on my glasses. But as usual my brain soon became accustomed and I saw through them (a clever deletion system we have as part of the sensory filter set up). I was about to do a big downhill section where speeds can reach more than 80km/h, so I put the glasses back on, got into tuck position and tried to relax to navigate the bike safely down the hill. It's mainly about keeping an eye out (apart from cars, and random dingos) for potholes, and changes in road surface etc., as you don’t want to hit one of those at that speed.
So, while in mid downhill rush, I saw a really rough piece of road and a big hole up ahead. I felt panic, and wanted to swerve, but it was too late.... I braced for the impact. But nothing happen ... not even a jolt on the bike. Then I realised, it wasn’t really there. It was just dirt on my glasses that must have caught the light differently – but I didn’t half give myself a fright….
The road flattened and then descended steeply again and I found myself trying to work out what was real and what was just dirt on my glasses. I was in my thinking. Not helpful. I decided to leave it to my wisdom to work out. Which ended up being a good choice given I made to the bottom safe and sound!
It occurred to me (whilst grinding up the next long hill) what a great metaphor for our day to day experience this is. How often do our normalised perceptions of our experience catch us out? It is only when we come in and out of them that we realise there were there in the first place. In this case I even knew my glasses were dirty, I had the knowledge but in that instance my knowledge was useless. I even (although this might be with the benefit of hindsight) have the sense that my ‘inner wisdom’ actually knew there was nothing on the road to avoid, as I didn’t actually take an action, just a big old dose of panic (low quality thinking) for a few seconds!
So, when you find yourself feeling something is scary or difficult, just notice that you are always experiencing the world via some form of 'glasses', and be aware that some times our glasses appear clearer and less obvious than at other times!
By the way, as a shameless plea, I am entering another charity event in June, for the Hear and Say charity, one of the leading paediatric auditory-verbal and Implantable technologies organisations in the world, teaching children who are deaf to hear, listen and speak. If this a cause that you value please feel free to sponsor me. I am also doing another 160km cycle event at the end of April but that one is just for fun ….