Cycling Europe Day 7: Living In the Moment

I don’t have any major problems in my life. My family and I are healthy, we have food in our bellies and roofs over our heads. We’ve never faced any major disasters. A previous divorce, unemployment, difficult decisions, worries about the future, yes. But beyond these relatively simple issues we’re fine.

So I fully realize how ridiculous it is to be on the trip of a lifetime and to break down crying with worries. But I did. My bike has some issues and I can’t fix them. It’s Easter holidays so there are no bike shops open for me to get help. I’m 80% certain I can still successfully ride on the bike without major issues until a suitable time comes for me to find a bike shop. But what if? What if the bike breaks down in the middle of nowhere and I can’t get it moving again? Is it safe for me to wave down any ol’ car and hitch a ride? It’s not like I haven’t considered all this before the trip but now it all feels so real and a tad overwhelming.

I had my cry and remembered what I was thinking while cycling yesterday. When I started out, I thought that now that I had so much time on my hands why not consider my big worries in life? Maybe this trip would help me solve them. So I asked myself, “What are you going to do about your non-existent job situation?” “What can you do?” was my answer. I need to just keep doing what I have been doing: apply for jobs and keep on the lookout for opportunities. That was easy! Next!

“OK”, I thought. “Well, what about your living situation? Where should I live next year?” I won’t go into details but it is quite complicated. “There is not much you can do about this one for now,” I answered. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

My life’s problems for the time being took little more than two minutes of thinking and I was done, focusing on the road ahead of me.

“This must be what they call living in the moment,” I realized. I had tried to do that many times but failed at it remarkably. So why did it seem so easy now? And why did I not manage to get that feeling back today on my rest day?

The only answer I can think of is idleness. When I’m idle, my mind tends to stray and to turn little worries into issues of international importance. Today was my rest day. It was nice. But once I had enough relaxation my mind began to wander. I decided I’d try to fix the problem I’d been having with my bike. I couldn’t. I actually made it worse until I managed to fix my mistake and the bike was back to its old issue. And then I thought of all the what ifs.

It doesn’t matter really what kind of a life we lead. We might have major problems we’re dealing with or we might be on a trip of a lifetime. Many of us end up with lots of anxiety about our problems, true or perceived, and it’s how we deal with that anxiety, rather than with the actual problems, that sometimes makes all the difference. I don’t want to live a life where worries, anxieties, or even fear paralyze me into inaction or into “safe” action in a way that doesn’t allow me to live my life to the fullest.

I’m worried that my bike might break down. I’ve done everything in my power to make it ride well. It’s not perfect but it should be fine. If something bad happens I’ll deal with it when/if it happens. I acknowledge I have legitimate reasons to have a small worry. But that’s all it should be. I’ll get on my bike again tomorrow and enjoy another day of cycling. I will not allow anxiety to paralyze me into inaction. I will keep going. I am so blessed to be able to do things that I have dreamt of doing. Now go out there and do them!

8 comments

  1. This is such a fantastically optimistic way to look at the situation! Good luck with getting your bike fixed and thank you for some much-needed Easter cheer.

  2. Fortunately your are not in any of the regions of Spain in which this Monday is also a holiday (“Lunes de Pascua” = Easter Monday). Otherwise you’d have to wait one day more to have your bike fixed.

  3. So the head is butting in when you are trying to enjoy your adventure!
    When that happens just get off the bike and take a moment to take in the scenery, the smells, the sounds or even the silence.
    Take a few deep breaths and clear your thoughts.
    When anxieties raise their head, tell them you will deal with a real situation WHEN it happens,

    Enjoy your trip.

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