Tsali Epiphany

We'd ridden about 18 muddy miles on Saturday, which was a lot of fun, but my legs were still feeling like fettuccini when we started out on the "Left Loop" Sunday. This would ultimately take us about six miles up a mountain, a tough trail, especially considering I was following Biggy, who wasn't satisfied with my pace. After a particularly treacherous downhill--over stones the size of his head, he pulled me over for a pow-wow: "What gear are you riding in?" he asked. "I mean, are you actually pedaling?"

I'd expected congratulations, and here he was asking stupid questions. "I'm pedaling," I said, incredulous.

"Well, try to keep up with me. Challenge yourself. You like challenges, right?" he prodded. I was speechless. "Use a higher gear to get more power," he suggested, looking smugger by the second.

I know how gears work! I WAS pedaling. What's more, I was still in one piece, with my brains tucked safely inside my skull, quite an accomplishment for someone with the coordination of a box turtle riding a bike through quicksand. I'd come close to flying over the handlebars--a couple of times. I'd used more curse words in that three-minute descent than I'd heard in a full season of Deadwood. I deserved a trophy. Furthermore, I'd been having fun.

"And maybe you should just go ahead and assume I'm doing the best I can, considering I don't have your strength or experience," I suggested back. "And maybe you should also keep in mind that my bike is the K-Mart to your Lord & Taylor." With that last comment, we were now officially fighting. I turned up the music on my Shuffle to drown out any possible and ill-advised response he might have.

Another thousand miles, and we reached the overlook.

Sometimes the world seems colored differently, and in Tsali that was the case. I stood on the edge, caked in mud, dehydrated, wishing I'd eaten more than a bagel with sugar-free jelly for breakfast, thinking the same thing I did when I first read about giant sea worms: So much beauty and mystery I've never seen, never imagined. In North Carolina even.

Then Biggy shared his Cliff bar with me.

But here's the important part, what happened on the trip back to the trailhead. I went a little bit faster, was a tad less afraid. I was having fun again. I was listening to Roseanne Cash's new cd, Black Cadillac, and on one of the songs, you can hear an old tape of her and her father when she was a baby learning to talk. Johnny says, "Roseanne. Roseanne..." and she says, "Bye-bye-bye," and he repeats, "Bye-bye-bye." Heartbreaking.

As I listened to this, heading down the mountain, it occurred to me: What if this is all there is? One life. Only this one beautiful, tragic world. Shouldn't it be enough?

Shouldn't we make sure it is?


Anonymous said...

If thou hast epiphany, can catharis be far behind?


Anne-Davnes said...

That kind of thought crossed my mind when unpacking boxes of crap this weekend - trying to get rid of the clutter to make room for Bimp. Jesus - it was horrifying. The deeper I got into it, the more overwhelmed I got, sinking into despair. Then everything looked so dark - everything I own was dirty, not well taken care of, a cluttered, hectic house full of crap. And this is the house/life I'm welcoming my baby into? I just feel so unprepared. So it occured to me after being quiet in the car and listening to a particularly well orchestrated mix of different music styles in one piece, that maybe the challenge of trying to make sense/order/beauty out of chaos is what we're here for. And that it doesn't have to be perfect. Nature isn't perfect. So why do I keep striving for it perfection if it isn't beautiful? Sheese.

minus five said...

i, myself, think it's more than enough. and i'm glad it's only once. if i could perfectly skip through a second or third time because i learned all of the things to avoid, it wouldn't be near as much fun.

like when i finally saved the princess on super mario brothers after years of trying. it wasn't as fun to play the game anymore because i could always win and everything was too familiar.

and thanks for the reminder about roseanne cash's latest cd. i've been meaning to get that and completely forgot about it. did you ever listen to loretta lynn's, "van lear rose" album?

A said...

I loved this post and feel like this all the time. I once saved a quote that said "life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful." Anyway, good job. Especially on the bike (that seat looks like torture).

Anonymous said...

I love Loretta's "Van Lear Rose." If you haven't heard it, you should. And you don't have to be a country fan to enjoy it.


Ultimately, future lives or past lives don't matter right now because we cannot change the past and the only way to affect the future is by living in the present.

And we spend so much time laboring over the present...striving for what? for whom? to what end? I suppose if we were all completely self-actualized, it would be to become the best we could be, the most authentic self possible...and that is hard to do.

There are so many cues from society that force our attention away from this idea...that tell us to jump on the wheel with the rest of the hamsters and run, run, run. Make more money, have more things, be more perfect, have more of more. When really, isn't it enough? Isn't it enough to simply want joy, peace and love? Everyday?

Anne-Davnes said...

There is another fab quote applicable here: "One can only feel as much joy as sadness has carved a space for."

Tania Rochelle said...

I think what I was really feeling was that I'm always yelling at my kids for being greedy--not ever being satisfied with getting one thing they've asked for before they're asking for the next.

So on the trail, it hit me--this is a gift, and it's so awesome, why should I even consider if there's more--happier times ahead, or an afterlife. That shouldn't matter. What matters is today.

I just decided to stop being greedy.

rk said...

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

it's a very big link but check it out


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