It occured to me yesterday that my bike ride home is a pretty good metaphor for the journey we all take in our lives.
I can choose the fast track that zooms along one of the busiest streets in the city, where I have to dodge cars driven by impatient commuters trying to rush home to cook supper for their kids, cross a busy freeway where I usually have to compete with a city bus or two (full of more impatient commuters), and risk getting squeezed to the curb on a couple of bridges that are too narrow to accomodate both cars and bikes (and we all know who wins THAT tussle).
I can choose the slow zone where I meander along an out-of-the-way river pathway, cut through a park with a fountain and lots of curious squirrels, weave through various side streets that lead me on an indirect path with lots of stop signs, and duck under the freeway on a small shadowy graffiti-covered bike tunnel.
Or I can choose the mixed bag which takes me halfway home along the busy thoroughfare, and then – just when I’ve had enough of the crushing, rushing traffic – juts off into the residential area, past a golf course, and through the tunnel to my own suburban neighbourhood.
Last summer, feeling tender and vulnerable and in need of the healing energy of the river, trees, and silence, I mostly chose the slow zone.
Only occasionally, when I am feeling particularly “don’t-mess-with-me” powerful (sometimes after I’ve kicked some proverbial butt at work) do I take the fast track all the way home. When I do, I arrive home with an adrenalin rush that’s exciting but a little unsettling.
This summer, with a healthy mix of tender and strong going on, I’ve mostly been choosing the mixed bag. I enjoy the rush and challenge of the fast moving traffic that pushes me to be alert, strong and fast, but then I usually need the quiet and the trees to help me wind down and feel more relaxed when I get home to my family.
Which lane are you in these days?