Normal. Everyone keeps talking about when things get back to normal, about life after we can finally put Covid-19 behind us. I’m certainly looking forward to the day when a vaccine is finally available. But I’m really beginning to question if I can return back to the same normal after this is all done? Back to the same rat race, the same grind, the same running around now that I’ve tasted this simpler and slower life? I’m really not sure if I’ll be able to ramp things up again to the same velocity as before? The Covid quarantine has forced us into minimalism and simplicity and if I’m honest, I really don’t want to give it up. My new schedule seems much more natural to me, closer to my instinctive tempo, closer to the beat of the universe, much less forced. This unhurried pace has given me more time for self-care. Or maybe it’s not that I now have more time for it? Maybe the current situation has simply shown me how important self-care really is? The reason why doesn’t really matter. Either way I enhance my body and spirit by spending more time practicing what nourishes my physical body and mental health. Meditation. Yoga. Long walks. Lunch break naps. Long soul quenching bike rides. Many future normals are available to us. Which one are we going to choose? What is the new normal going to look like? Normal.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
The bare naked branches reaching up towards the clear blue sky. The trees stretching their arms long and tall after their winter nap. Rested, but hungry. Starving for light energy as their buds begin to burgeon. Awakening. Rebirth. A recurrent occurrence every single year, but still so very mystical when we pause to witness it unfold. Sunday morning was one of those mornings that you long for towards the end of a long winter. Warm sun embrace. Calm and quiet winds. Loud songbirds. A spring kickoff jamboree of sorts. I could just sense that this was going to be a gravel lottery winning ride day. I concentrated on this strong gut feeling as I was getting ready to start pedaling. The loop mapped out in my head, I set out towards Sackville. Craving my warm tea and Larabar snack, I remembered seeing a sign for a rest area when I was riding through last year. The Beech Hill park is a really nice spot. Bigger than I expected with a small trail network. It was well worth the slight detour. Lying flat on my back on the picnic table bench, face to the gleaming sun, I meditated for about 20 minutes. The silence intermittently broken by the occasional passing truck on the nearby highway. A fly landed on my hand and walked around for a bit. It may even have been a bee? I didn’t look or move. I just let it do its thing while I did mine. The gentle breeze caressing my cheek. My soul soothed by nature’s mercy in that moment. I felt a very deep peace settle inside of me as I became more me. I didn’t want to leave. The life inside of me invigorated by the life surrounding me. All one. Timeless. Limitless. Startled by a family walking by, I awoke from my holy nap. Energized, and lightly caffeinated, I rode back. Over 3 hours on quiet, mostly gravel roads. Over 3 hours of pure dusty flow. Over 3 hours alone. Never lonely. Social distancing?! Yeah, it isn’t all that bad on magical days like these. Stay safe everyone.
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Satori. Is it just me or is the sky a much clearer shade of blue since most of the planes aren’t flying anymore? Like the sudden lifting of a certain haze. The rays of light able to penetrate us deeper, energizing our souls. Beams of hope greeting us from the heavens. Glimmers of grace helping us navigate these heavy times. Is it just me? Have you noticed this as well? I scouted a few new dirt / gravel roads last weekend. The windy sunny days of late have done a great job of drying things up. We still need a few more weeks for the base to harden and for the wet spots to dry a bit more, but I can surely feel a certain gravel excitement bubbling up inside of me. The urgency that I used to feel to get out and get my training done has been replaced with the need to get out and pedal alone. Far from the noise. Far from the commotion. Closer to the truth. Closer to my true self. Long solo rides were always what I enjoyed most about training. And now, especially in these times of social distancing, every single ride is a solo ride. Exploring new places, losing myself, way out there, then finding that I was never really lost. Seeking outer spaciousness in order to show me my inner spaciousness. Solo rides are about glimpses of presence. In Zen, such glimpses are called Satori. A part of me has been missing the social aspect of our sport lately. But, to be honest, the best thing about cycling is definitely the brief moments of Satori on solo rides in the back of beyond. Satori.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
If there existed a list that contained all the ways that people die, we could all go through it and every single one of us would eventually come across how we will end up leaving this world. Even if we wouldn’t necessarily be able to recognize it as such just yet. This list isn’t a menu. Most often, we don’t get to choose. You may be thinking that Covid-19 is a new item recently added to this list. But it was already there along with many other unknown causes. Dying from this virus almost always means dying alone in ICU. No last minute I love yous. No family or loved ones by our side. And then, in the midst of this pandemic, so close to home, the deadliest mass murder in Canadian history at the hands of a mad gunman disguised as a police officer. Such crazy times that we are living in. So senseless. So tragic. Physical distancing preventing us from really coming together like we would need to during these difficult moments. Broken-hearted. So sad. And so terrified. Maybe our greatest fear isn’t death? Maybe our greatest fear is not knowing how we are going to die? Maybe our greatest fear is the physical pain that we may endure before leaving? Maybe our greatest fear is leaving our loved ones behind? Living is dangerous. People have died doing what you are doing at every minute of every day. We live with a false sense of security with our insurance policies and consumer guarantees but these are but an illusion. And this illusion has been shattered by these recent events. It has put us face-to-face with the only sure thing in this life, our mortality. Not to downplay or disrespect the victims of these tragedies, but in reality we were always as vulnerable even before the eruption of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent shootings in Nova Scotia. We simply had pushed it at the very back of our consciousness. May we all give ourselves permission and space to grieve these deep losses. And may we be reminded how precious and fragile life actually is. My sincere condolences to everyone affected. Peace.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Week 5 of the Corona virus quarantine. Over a month of forced minimalism, bare bones living, essential services only and getting back to basics. In many ways, life right now is more real than it was before. More about appreciation, less about diversion. More about connection, less about stuff. More about survival, less about amusement. More about real shit, less about bullshit. Fresh produce has become a very hot commodity when you only get out to the grocery store every second week. Overly busy schedules have been replaced by carefully organized menus based on available food, long family walks and real life learning at home. No more picking up and driving children to this and that. No more live sports to keep us entertained. We feel lost without all these distractions. Standing in front of our fears and insecurities with nowhere to run can be terrifying. Everyone keeps warning us about the mental health crisis that will likely follow this pandemic. To be honest, this mental health crisis already existed before this pandemic. Most of us were simply too busy to see it. To quote Eckhart Tolle “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” Will Covid-19 be enough to transform humanity’s collective consciousness beyond busyness, selfishness, greed and exploitation? We’ll have to wait and see…
Thursday, April 9, 2020
Gratefulness. So very, very important in these times. Grateful for my health. Grateful for my family. Grateful for our home that keeps us safe. Grateful for food on the table. Grateful for insulin that keeps my daughter alive. Grateful for my job. And grateful for solo bike rides. Riding always makes me see things more clearly by raising my level of awareness. Realizing how humans are the only beings or entities negatively affected by Covid-19 right now. Think about that for a moment. My dog has never been happier. Our planet is healing and able to breathe again. Wild animals are doing more than fine. Our marine life is thriving as our waters are being replenished. The sad truth is that the world would be better off without humans on it… But there is still always hope. What if the whole purpose of this pandemic is to teach us that we need to change? That our survival depends on a life of harmony instead of on a life of fighting? What if the virus is showing us that nature can never be conquered? That, in the end, nature always wins? What if we don’t defeat nature with our man-made vaccines and drugs? What if these so called remedies or solutions are simply nature giving us a second chance? What if nature just wants us to be healthy and happy? But that it also needs us to understand that we are not above it? That we are a part of it? Covid-19 is asking for our presence in this moment, showing us that we need to play by nature’s rules instead of by our ego’s rules. Behind each crisis is an opportunity to learn, a moment to understand better, an invitation to raise our level of awareness. And once we know better, we are able to do better. We should not be aiming for back to normal. We should be striving for better than before. Stay safe everyone…
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Have you noticed the sound of the birds chirping in the morning? Lying in bed, as you wake, listen. This melody instantly takes me back to my childhood and the excitement that I felt every spring. Such a refreshingly joyous sound. The sound of hope. The sound of rebirth. The sound of warmer days ahead. The snow is melting. Winter fat bike season is officially over. I have switched to road riding the last few weeks. Short loops around the neighborhood. Social distancing on my bike is what I have mostly been doing the last few years, so in many ways it still feels somewhat normal. I feel healthy, but with the amount of snot and phlegm that I often expel during my rides, it probably isn’t safe for me to ride with anyone else right now. Very, very cautiously is how I always ride, especially now. This surely isn’t time to be taking risks. Our health care system has enough on its plate with Covid-19 already. I usually ride the multi-use trails around the city as soon as they are dry, but I have been noticing that most trail users are not giving the 2 meter distance when passing. If we don’t want to lose the right to keep using the trails we need to smarten up. 2 meters often means pulling over to one side of the trail or proceeding single file if you’re out walking or riding with someone from your household. It really isn’t that complicated folks. Our health care workers are literally putting their life on the line, the very least that we can do is follow the social distancing guidelines at all times. Ride for your health. But please ride smart and safe !
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
I finally started a regular meditation practice last fall. 15 minutes every morning. In theory, meditation seems like the easiest thing to do, because there is nothing to do. That’s the whole idea. Just sit. No moving. No thinking. But why is it so difficult? We’ve become so dependant on distractions. Always busy. Constant restlessness. Living in our heads. I still suck at it. But the more I practice, the more I feel myself eventually settle. Accepting. No longer trying to run away. Many underlying issues arise. Meditation teaches me about me. And now, in the midst of this global pandemic. Self-isolation. Physical distancing. Quarantine. Lockdown. Everyone being told to stay at home. We have been asked to sign up for a meditation retreat. That alone is difficult enough. Not knowing when this retreat will end makes it much more difficult. Face-to-face with our Covid-19 fears, we feel immobilized. We can’t run away anymore. But what if we were to accept being forced to stay home as an invitation to come back home? What if we looked at being stuck mostly indoors as an opportunity to turn inward? Maybe the best way to survive this pandemic is to approach it as a meditation? Let it break us. Let ourselves become undone. Blessed with more family time. Talk to each other. Get to really know each other. Be afraid together. Heal as a family. Let it show us what’s really important. What if we use this time to fertilize the birth of a new level of family connection? The choice is ours. Stay safe everyone.