I was cycling one day, starting my routine after a year sabbatical of rest and frustration. The suns heat always takes me back to the time of youth, with the air surrounding, daydreams flying and magic with just one thought. The flats are easy, and the hills of course are hills. Nature puts them in our path to humble us as we try to walk across its path of life. On this day I decided to go to the park and ride.
This park is beautiful with a creek that follows you, trees and of course hills. Not your average hills, these are hills that seem like flat road then suddenly you cannot breathe and have to stand just to go two miles an hour. I am exaggerating a little, but nonetheless they are difficult. I had pushed the flats a bit too much and too hard for the little bit of time I had returned to cycling. In other words I had bitten off more than I could ‘pedal’.
“Why am I about to have to climb this mountain?” My mind starts to do that swirl thing, with images of falling over and the cyclist behind me laughing as he flies past, using the air as his friend then shooting some rocks at me with one last push into the horizon. The flight down the hill is always exhilarating, but pay back is the haul back up the hill. Once down in the valley it’s like you are in a place of challenge, and the sun, the trees and that one butterfly wait to watch you move up and up and up that hill. “It’s getting closer” I think of this hill and create a mountain in my mind. “I could turn around” No I can’t for I am down in the valley now and the only way out is ‘up’.
Looking at the creek for a moment I feel it’s cool and see that beauty of its movement with the light dancing, the rocks holding but for a moment, the waters touch then watching the water fall down and onto another rock then into the depths of itself to fill that pool of tranquility. “Oh hell!” The hill has already begun and I was not prepared I had been looking at the waters, the waters, “yes think of the…” Breathing harder now I have to stand just a bit to pick up some speed, the hill is winning too early and I have a mile of it to go. Just look at the ground, turn your circles, inhale, exhale.
My thoughts of days of training fly to try to find escape from this fatigue. A cyclist of much better shape flies past me; I lower my head and just try to breathe. “Whatever, my thoughts of how I will defeat that cyclist one day, “you just wait until...”
Sitting now I turn my circles, my mind is racing with those thoughts to wuss out and change into a granny gear. “NO!” I am an athlete and a cyclist and I will not use that Granny gear. A granny gear is one that is easier to turn, hence granny, for like old grannies to use “NO!” the image of me spinning like a baby up this hill causes me to stand and push my big gear harder. Just breathe, just. Suddenly a butterfly flips around in front of my wheel. It slows then lifts to my face flapping its silly self in the air. I am curious as to why it seems to be looking at me. It then dove down and flew through my front wheel, back and forth. Wow, how is it doing that. Now flying all over the place as they do, it came up to my shoulder. Just flying beside me up and down up and down but staying at my shoulder. I started to smile at this butterfly; it was yellow and so alive and light. Then it moved in front of my face again and fluttered for a bit there, felt like it was staring into my eyes, for a moment it dashed around me then was back in front of my front wheel. This was fun, but as suddenly as it arrived it floated away. I looked to the left at the beautiful field of flowers it had flown to, I then realized I was at the top of the hill. I had forgotten I was pushing up the hill, straining, and breathing. I was at the top. Refreshed and not even tired.
The butterfly that visited, or was it an angel or a wish that flew to assist me, to distract me, to allow me to fly up that hill with the flight and the ease that a butterfly enjoys.