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Oh The Places You Can Go!


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go… ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

One of the things I cherish about long bike rides is having dedicated time for my mind to wander, having dedicated time for my mind to trigger off of seemingly arbitrary events (a song on my eclectic iPod playlist which always plays in random mode, a color worn by a person I passed strolling along the lakefront trail or the wiggle in her walk, a sound emanating from a myriad of sources, a pattern in the buildings lining Lake Shore Drive, a smell which triggers much more than thoughts, a feeling welling up to an unknown trigger, the line of Chicago Street & Sanitation trucks parked nose to tail blocking the bike riding path and road to funnel protesters away from the NATO summit) and unearth thoughts hiding deep within the recesses of my mind.

 Are the thoughts really hiding, afraid of exposure? Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the thought that works it’s way through the grey matter is a thought I would rather not examine, would rather not entertain. Today, a song lyric about God pushed me to delve into my living out aspects of my faith. Today, Sunday, found me cycling on the lake front in Chicago instead of attending church services. This is probably the 4th week in a row where I was “otherwise occupied” and was “not able to attend” services. For two of them I was in a predominantly Muslim country so I have a reason I can justify as valid. The others, well, that would be a litany of excuses and, as my sister often says, excuses are the nails in the coffin of failure.

Other thoughts are not hiding they just need a trigger to spring into life. When I came upon the line of trucks blocking the path and street today, I pondered for the first time the effect NATO has on my life other than blocking me from riding a part of the Lake Front Trail near the Museu

m campus that I really enjoy because I am very close to the water and I get a great view of Chicago. There are protesters in the city this weekend who have a big problem with the organization. It seems one of their biggest issue is spending money on war instead of medical care. I see NATO as a necessary entity. I don’t always agree with it’s policies but am glad it exists because, I believe, it’s important countries have discussions with multi-facted perspectives before they enter an international conflict rather than the alternative of taking unilateral action based off a single point of view.

More often than not, the thoughts are fleeting, ephemeral musings I would like to develop in a blog but they disappear as fast as footsteps in the wet sand on the shore of the Aegean Sea. I had a bunch of these today as I do every time I go out for long bicycle ride. Unfortunately, I did not want to stop my ride to log the ideas in my iPhone. If I did stop to capture every one I would go half as far in twice the time. Still, at the end of the ride, I could kick myself for not recording at least a few of them. But, I do ride for other reasons than to allow my mind space to wander.

A big reason I took up cycling is for the health benefit. Heart disease runs in my family. It took my paternal Grandfather when he was in his 40s and resulted in my dad having a quad bypass in his early 50s. Them having the heart disease gene does not necessarily mean it was passed on to me but I would rather be safe than wake up one day having a premature conversation with Saint Peter at the pearly gates. Also, I added a few kilos (kilos sound better than pounds because the number is less than the equivalent poundage) to my weight from last summer and need the exercise to reduce the tire around my midsection so I can fit into my clothes again.

I guess, the best thing about riding is the physical travel and mental travel, is the discovery that comes from not always knowing where I will go on the journey, is not always knowing which road (or trail) I will take on any given day and never knowing which events will trigger a journey of the mind. It’s the discovery of the places I can go physically and in my imagination that makes the journey worthwhile.

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