About a month ago Sharon asked me what I liked doing. Simple enough question but I could only reply with “riding my bike” which isn’t the best answer to give someone who has a rich social life, an infectious personality that brings people up and a sense of humor that is broadcasting and wildly funny!
My answer was not what was expected, or maybe wanted, but it was the truth and as soon as it left my month I had a suspicion that something very significant had happened. I think my answer obliterated the understanding Sharon had of me because what she’s known of me has been fun, activity based stuff and a genuine passion for doing whatever. When I replied with biking all of that other stuff got whitewashed and we were left with one very interesting and dynamic person and one introverted self-isolationist, looking at each other with two bewildered and slightly silly looks on our faces. From here there were two directions to go and so we each took a separate path away from each other. Mine was a path away from the present me who didn’t know what they liked doing towards the person I used to be before I let me drift away.
My answer was as embarrassing as it was revealing. Who had I become, and why? And why don’t I know what I like doing? Why is riding my bike the only thing that I was able to muster when asked about it? Who was I being when I answered her question? How had I become this person?
Well, I caught a break sort of. I got a concussion a couple of days later and the doctor suggested that I take a couple of weeks off of thinking too hard about anything. The truth was, I didn’t have a choice, I wasn’t able to function normally. The concussion drove me down to the pits of despair, as they can do. I was lost. In my diminished state of function I wasn’t able to see anything in my future and, worse, I didn’t see anything in my past. And my present had me sitting on there, head in hands, pit in my stomach, confused, scared and in serious need of something of purpose.
I was beginning to see that I was still in recovery from a number of relationships and hadn’t actually let any of it go and I didn’t know what I liked doing because I have either been in a relationship or in the end of a relationship for years the last 5 years. I hadn’t let it go so I was still acting the same way as I used to. I was still thinking the same way too which meant that I hadn’t started to re-expand my interests to find my own passions again. When Sharon asked I wasn’t going to say that because I didn’t realize it, but as I sat there I knew I had missed the moment to live in the present. I had on some level made the decision to substitute thinking about the past for actually doing something. Given that the brain rewards itself each time it makes a correct guess, and given that I wasn’t engaging the physical world, I had no difficulty manufacturing the information I needed to not more forward in life.
I was living in the past and as each day passed, I was living further and further in past. Each moment saw me becoming more and more detached from the present reality. I was fully committed to whatever it was I was creating and I was really good at it! This manufactured suffering became a habit and I needed to get away from it so I rode.
The purpose of the bike riding was escape, then aesthetics, then training. This leads to me riding too much and getting less than optimal training effect. I’m also prone to burn-out and fatigue. But it’s the opportunity cost of riding so much that made the answer to Sharon’s question so lame – I don’t do very much else for fun because I have been using cycling as a way to escape something. I had stopped doing almost all of the things that I used to enjoy and spend this time pushing my body to the limit first to forget, then to look lean and finally to ride faster. So this means, in one way, that I haven’t even been riding my bike for fun either.
On that day when she asked, the completely honest answer is that I don’t like doing anything. I do one thing a lot but not for fun. I do it to escape which I’ve labeled fun.
Hmmm…..so I’ve set out to find what I like doing so that I can, by the end of the summer, write a better blog about it.