December 3 - MomentOn April 17th, Tom and I pack up our bicycles, our bike gear, and some snacks. We pile into Tom's mom's car. She drops us at the end of the Silver Comet Trail and says farewell at 7am. We breathe in the cool air. Before leaving down the trail, Tom's mother snaps a picture of us. We are all smiles. We are happy. One of us knows that this is more than a bike trip, and the other will find out in just a few short hours.
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
In the early afternoon, we stop at the top of a large hill. We are in the middle of nowhere, and haven't seen another cyclist in at least an hour. We look out at the fields, at the beauty of the hills around us. I mention that it reminds me of where I went to college in the mountains of western North Carolina. I am struck by the perfect weather, by the exhilaration of having climbed a huge hill on my bicycle, at the excitement of going on a 100-mile bike ride from Atlanta to Anniston, AL. I stand between two trees, and it is the perfect day.
Before I know it, Tom proposes, I say yes, and we are giddy with excitement.... and disbelief. This is NOT the moment where I feel most alive, because the perfection of the moment and of the day actually makes me feel very much not alive. I am almost unaware of my senses, and probably need to be pinched.
When we decide to roll on again, we have another 10 miles to go before we reach our resting stop for the night. We decide not to call anyone until we get to our hotel. I savor this time. I have a secret. My life just changed, and I am going to hold it inside of me for a while. The wind rushes over and through me, and makes me feel alive. I am giddy, and can't stop smiling.
I am at the top of a hill, and it is a long way down. I am unsure on a bicycle. I hesitate. I have fallen before. When I was little. When I was on rollerblades. Since that accident I have been unable to bike down a hill without riding my brakes.
Tom wants to get to our hotel. The ride has been fun, but we are tired, happy and ready to celebrate. We are engaged. We want to call our family, our friends. We want to celebrate, to get off our bikes and stretch our legs. Tom is patient with my cautious riding, has been patient all day. He urges me to go faster, to get to our final destination quickly. I start down the hill, and I want to ride my brakes the whole way like I usually do. "Don't ride your brakes" he yells from behind me. "You'll be fine!"
Yes, I agree to myself. I will be fine. I relax on the bike. I go faster and faster. I lean into the wind. I am scared, but the wind rushes over me and through me and makes my stomach flip. I race faster and faster down the hill, and I resist the urge to slow my momentum.
In this moment, I feel truly alive. I am afraid, and I push through the fear. In pushing through fear and fully embracing it, I become exhilarated. I am full of energy. Tears come to my eyes. I am happy, and my heart has room only for joy.