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Friday, April 8, 2016

Bicycling can provide valuable insights and important life lessons for all of us

Bicycling can provide valuable insights and important life lessons for all of us
By:  Michael Lander

If Auguste Rodin had been a cyclist, his artwork (known
as - The Thinker) may have been depicted like the
image above.  The Thinker is often used to
represent philosophy and, in this case, he portrays the
philosophical aspect of a life of cycling.

Bicycling….. Is there something more to it than simply being a great way to get around?

I happen to be someone who thinks so.

After getting into cycling, myself, about nine years ago, it really didn’t take me long to come to the realization that there was a lot more to it than I knew as a child growing up in the 1960’s.

In my defense, I am pretty certain that most people, at that time, probably didn’t give it much more thought than I did back then.

Bicycling, however, I now know can change how you see your life, your community, and the world.

As I see it, today, not only do bicycles provide an inexpensive and more environmentally-friendly alternative to driving, a great way to get or to stay in shape, and an enjoyable way to get around, but they offer a better view of the world and a better perspective of life for those who do ride.

And, for those who really love cycling, their philosophy of life might come down to one simple and undeniable truth –

Life is better on a bike and a bike is better for your life.

While bikes may not be the answer to all of your problems, or all of the problems of the world, they might be a really good place for many of us to start.

Bicycles can offer so much to so many people, not only helping to improve one’s health and fitness with psychological and physiological benefits, but they can provide you with a new outlook and a new philosophy on life, itself.

Ultimately, it might just be that almost everything that you need to know about life, you just might get from a bike ride.

Robert Fulghum, in his book – “All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten” suggested that the most important lessons in life came to him while he was just beginning school, but I would rather think that Fulghum never learned anything else that was important because he evidently never actually became a cyclist, himself.

In reality, we all know that we continue to grow and to learn throughout our entire lives, but through cycling we can rediscover the fun and the sense of freedom and the thrill of discovery that most of us were first introduced to when we began to ride a bike as a child.

Also, it is through riding a bike, that we come to understand what cycling can teach us and how our lives can be reflected in an activity that otherwise seems so deceptively simple and easy.

So, you might ask, what is it that cycling can teach us about life?

For me, a bike ride, as with life, is a journey.  That journey takes us down roads, roads that are sometimes easy, and, at other times, they are difficult, challenging, and unpredictable.

Art can sometimes imitate life and life can sometimes
imitate art and cycling can sometimes do both.
This piece of art is located at the Oak Court Mall
in Memphis.
We can’t always choose the roads, or control the conditions of those roads that we go down, but we can control how prepared we are for them, how we look at them, and how we are going to react and respond to them.

Sometimes, it is all in how we see something that can make a big difference in how well that we will do when we face them.  A seemingly insurmountable hill, for example, may not seem so daunting when we view it as just another challenge waiting for us to conquer.

In life, and with cycling, we often have to work hard, to push ourselves, and to put forth the effort in order to propel ourselves forward and to move ahead.

We can get better and faster at riding, or at anything else in life for that matter, but improvements only come when we struggle, and when we experience a few aches and pains along the way, but the pay-off almost always makes it all worthwhile. 

Nothing is more rewarding in life than when we face the challenges and adversity laid out before us and overcome them.  

In spite of our best efforts, however, we are always going to come across some setbacks, obstacles, resistance, and some bumps in the road.  That is life. 

We can minimize the impact of these by remaining cautious and vigilant and whether we are talking about life, or about riding a bike, the one thing that we can always count on is to expect the unexpected. 

We shouldn’t ever let any of this deter us, though, from trying to find a way to get where we want to go even if it’s not the route that we may have originally envisioned for ourselves.

Sometimes, it is not always as important how we get somewhere, but it is the ride, itself, that matters most. 

In life, as with cycling, we should also never pass up the opportunity to stop and to seize the moment, to take in the scenery along the way, to enjoy the ride whenever and however long we can, and to appreciate those with whom we share the road or journey of life with or to have some quiet time alone for contemplative thought or prayer.    

In the end, we can learn a lot about ourselves, and about our lives, by simply riding a bike.  Bikes can teach us how to live our lives to the fullest and they can enrich us in ways that we might not get to experience, otherwise. 

Life, it has been said, is a beautiful ride and it can truly be an adventure, and wherever life might ultimately take you, a bicycle may be one of the best ways to get there.

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