I’m up and dressed. It’s chilly out here. I try not to think to much, take my bicycle out and get ready to ride.
I start pedalling, feeling the cold air in my face. I see the road ahead. It’s almost empty, just a few joggers and a girl walking her dog.
The night rain left some puddles that I avoid. I love to see the big trees around, the quietness. I keep a comfortable cadence, fast enough but not too demanding on my knees. I keep pedalling until my 3 laps are completed, letting my thoughts come and go.
At the end, the feeling is good. While I do some stretching, a smile shows in my face.
2020 was really something. The lockdown, due to the pandemic, changed a lot of things for all. I had to learn to teach online. I lost dear ones. I learned and confirmed some things of value, like friendship. One thing that I knew and I had the chance to reassure is that I am finite. Life may end in a moment.
I have been trying to declutter. I see images of beautiful clean and simple interiors, but it seems that I am more of a baroque soul than a clean minimalist. I most say, though, that I’ve done a fairly good job in cleaning my mess.
Art has become my main activity, after many many years of teaching. The time has come for me to be working in my studio again.
It seems that writing is also back. It’s not that I’m that great at it, but I like to tell stories, and writing gives me that chance. I’m using a pen name, chosen as a tribute to my maternal grandmother, a great character.
Finally, I am at the last semester of my second master degree. It keeps me very excited to learn new things, that I may be using to work with others to discover new ways of dealing with life and its complications.
So I’m starting the new year with thankfulness, joy and expectation. With projects that will keep me rolling.
What a strange thing is silence. There is always some noice around us. Somehow, I search for silence. Saturday night I was in a house in the country, at the Sierra Gorda. No cars, no voices tha could be heard. But nature produce it’s own noice. A concert of insects and frogs was on. Even though, it was not the sounds I can hear when I’m in my house, in San Luis Potosí. When I meditate early in the morning, there’s already sounds of cars and people. I can seat quietly, and go on my meditation without distraction. When riding my bicicle it happens the same. I go through the traffic pedaling, with full attention on what is going around me, but I’m listening without listening. I am conscious of what is happening, but not holding onto anything. Those moments are precious, an important part of my daily simple life.
Today I was looking at my cat through the window. He was very quite, not sleeping, just being there. At other times, he can be very attentive, following the movement of a little worm passing by.
Suddenly, he may decide it’s enough, and stand up, stretch, and go to wander around. He may find a spot of sunlight, and lay down to savour the moment.
If he’s hungry, he’ll find something to eat, or look for that person who will give him food. He may look after me, just because he wants some company, or could it be that he knows I like him and wants to be kind to me.
If he is feeling energetic, he may go on hunting. Very careful not to be seen, following the movement of a bird, waiting for the right moment for a fast run and a jump to get it. Sometimes he might be generous, and share his pray with me.
At night, he may move around the house, like a guard on duty, watching for an unwanted presence, making sure we are safe. Taking a nap in between rounds until he discover I’m awaken to greet me.
It make me remember what was said by a Buddhist monk: when I eat, I eat. When I sleep, I sleep.
Sometimes I think that there may be people thinking: what is he talking about, bicycles and zen, or meditation?
Well, let me tell you that back in the 70’s there was a very popular book called “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, by Robert M. Pirsig. I didn’t read the book, since I was not interested in motorcycles, but the idea got stocked in my mind.
Then I discovered that zen was not a thing of the temple only, but a way one sees life, and the way we do whatever we do. And bicycling, not racing, but riding a bike, was an activity that allows you to be in the present moment, now, with full attention.
When I started with meditation, and trying to have a rich spiritual life, what I constantly found was the reference of a path. So I had to move, in a direction. Well, I thought, what a wonderful thing! I have a bicycle, I can ride the path. And discovered that, like practicing martial arts as I did, or drawing, I could bike the path.
A few months ago I was in the bookstore, wandering after picking the book I needed, when I spotted a little book: Mindful thoughts for cyclists, by Nick Moore. What a discovery! I was very excited. I bought it and started to read. I have given the book to other three bicycle enthusiasts. I gave the first one, even without finishing the reading, to a new friend, Cecilia. It’s a beautiful book.
At the end of the book we can read: “The awareness we can cultivate on the bike can help us to detach ourselves from desire and entrenched thought patterns and view things more objectively. It’s raining. It’s cold. This hill is steep. I am traveling at 25 miles per hour. That’s it. No value judgement, no good/bad, right/wrong. The moment is sufficient unto itself. Does it need to be about anything else?”
I keep on my intention to review why I have what I have, and reducing what I don’t need.
I have discovered that it is not easy for me. I’m attached to some of my stuff more than I like. I keep some clothing that I haven’t used for quite a long time.
There are, also, some small collections. My VW little toys, pipes for tobacco smoking, 6 bicycles, and old mail stamp one…and a lot of books. Do I need them? No. Do I want to keep them? Yes. Then, what about decluttering and having less?
I think that the object of this exercise is to be able to have less, to get rid of things I don’t need or use, to be conscious of what I acquire, and, most important, not to be attached to things.
In this quest I don’t intend to make an immediate change. It has not been as simple as I thought. So I’m going slow, but going. Specially there are things that I have found very difficult to get rid of. So I’m letting them to be there, until I can manage others.
So far, I’m keeping my collections. I love my bicycles, they stay. But I’ll keep looking in my clothes.
I think that my father was a wise man. Practical. A few years before his retirement from the Army, he was deciding what he would do then.
Lesson taken. My wife and I were sure that our children would leave the family home soon. So what we were going to do then, how our lives would be like? So we prepared in advance.
It’s funny that every mother and father knows that their children eventually will go away. But they suffer when that happens. At least this is true for Mexican families.
I knew that my son and daughter would go away, as I did once. We are supposed to make that possible in the best way for them. They must be ready to fly away in the best condition.
As a parent, sometimes I felt that I wasn’t doing the right thing. My father onece told me: “you and your siblings are trying to do right what you think I did wrong, but you are going to makes mistakes anyway”. And yes, I did. But one do the best one can do.
And now was the time to let them go, and reunite with my wife, as a couple. Now we have good art studios at home, one next to the other. We’re planning to make some arrangements to the little garden, cooking what we like, enjoying a glass of wine. We have more time together, time to talk, time for each one.
There’s a new way to explain life after Covid 19: the new normality. A strange way to say that we’re not going back to our way of life before it, what ever that may mean to anyone.
Sincerely, I don’t think we were living really well, many things should of change. But what it seems to be the new normality is, definitely, not nice at all.
Could you imagine yourself wearing a mouth mask all the time you’re not home? Not having the great pleasure of greeting loved friends with a hug or a kiss? Being frightened by all the terrible viruses we may encounter?
When I was a child, I remembere some cousins who were living with my grandma for a period of time. She was afraid of them getting sick. So she used to cover them with blankets at the slightest weather change. They were always sick with a cold or throat pain.
I understand the need to protect us from the new virus, trying to be healthy when the hospitals are full with Covid 19 infected persons. But I refuse to be terrorised with nature or catastrophic news.
We must exert our freedom of choice, of how we want to live. Of working towards better societies, more empathic, just. For a way to live with the world, nature, in good terms. For people accepting the differences we have, and celebrating what makes possible to live as a brotherhood.