The other day, like many days, I was riding my bike. And while I always love these moments of riding, this day was pure bliss. It had rained a few days earlier, so the mountains surrounding the city were dusted in a fresh shade of white powder. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. And to top it off, it’s Fall here in the southern hemisphere, which means that the trees are all sorts of yellow, red, orange, green, and rusty brown.
It was a perfect Fall day. The air was crisp and cool, but the sun warmed my face.
I’ve been really busy lately, hence why this is the first time I’ve sat down to write since my accident 2 years and almost 3 months ago. It’s been hard for me to feel like I’ve got things back together, but that’s not for this article. Anyways, the point is, I took the weekend to pause, and that was what led to this perfect day.
When I was little, each Fall, when the colors were in their peak, my family and I would take color rides – road trips up North just to enjoy Wisconsin’s prettiest colors. I’ve got a nice, long bike route that follows a colorful path out of the city, and then ends up on hilly, backcountry mountain roads, so I decided to continue the tradition and take a color (bike) ride.
In all actuality, I ride this route quite frequently. I typically ride between 40 – 60 miles / 75 – 100 kilometers a day on the weekend, so the only thing different about this day was my mindset. While I always find pure joy in the rhythm of pedaling long distances, up hills, and through gorgeous countryside, I normally have some plans for when I get back and/or listen to some sort of educational materials in my earbuds.
But this day, there was no agenda. And no learning. Just me, present in the present moment.
As I pedaled over the dried beds of leaves, I listened to them crackle. I looked up and around at all the colors and, more than a few times, even stopped to take pictures. I heard the birds chirping and bees buzzing. I appreciated how pretty it was when the sun peeked through some holes in the branches and highlighted certain sections of the tree and ground below. As I zoomed through places with heavy foliage, I breathed deeply and inhaled that signature smell of Fall.
I noticed how peaceful I felt and how I was experiencing the same things I always experience, but on a whole new level. As I reflected, my general gratefulness increased, as well as the clarity around what I needed to do and confidence on my ability to move forward. I had more energy to move forward on those projects and ideas, because I felt great and actually had identified some next steps (like writing again, hence, this article). While the latter two are heightened by the long bike ride, the first has its own set of benefits and is a direct result of how I went about that day.
Living in the present moment
This all made me ask myself a few questions, that maybe you can ask yourself.
- How often do you slow down to actually be present in whatever you’re doing? Not thinking about the next, not multi-tasking, not in a rush.
- What are you missing out on by not slowing down and being present?
- How would your perception – of your experiences, of your days, of yourself – improve if you did?
I’d challenge you to ponder these questions, be more aware of your multi-tasking, and make more conscious choices to just do whatever you’re doing. Sometimes multi-tasking is in the physical form, and other times it’s simply thinking about one thing while doing another. Start seeing what heightened experiences, ah-has, or progress you make by taking advantage of your moments by really being all-in.
Alright, almost done, but I had one more insight that was just too powerful not to share.
As I was riding along and soaking up all gorgeous colors and comforting smells of Fall, I was thinking about how tremendous this season is and how it’s my favorite. As happens when I’m biking for hours on end, my thoughts cascaded and I started reflecting on the seasons. And then, it hit me.
We, as humans perceiving Fall from afar, just love it for all the reasons I’ve mentioned. But, Fall is actually all about dying. How is it that we can find so much beauty in this season of closing cycles?
I wondered, if the leaves could feel, how would they feel about Fall? Would they hate it, fear it, resent it? Is it uncomfortable? Or, as nature, do they understand and embrace the cycles of life? Can they find joy in all that was Spring and Summer, or even in all the pleasure their changing colors give others?
This made me reflect on a few more questions, that maybe you can ask yourself:
- How well do you embrace closing cycles? Of any kind, relationships, friendships, professional, or even of life itself.
- If you were to embrace a closing cycle, what beauty, appreciation, or peace would you gain?
- How would reducing or eliminating that resistance positively impact you moving into the next cycle?
It’s hard as we are transitioning to something new, because it inevitably means we are leaving something behind. I can struggle with letting go and therefore can often make transitions longer than needed, and I really don’t believe that does me any good. I’d challenge you to find something you’re struggling with accepting and use the questions above to see what benefits arise from letting that change flow.
Alright, that’s it for today. I’m happy to be back writing and I have a lot to share. Hope these reflections help you live a little fuller. If you have any thoughts on what I shared here, feel free to leave a comment 😊