Arrhythmia is a great teacher of going slow. In fact, any disability is a great teacher. What do disabilities teach? They teach us self acceptance, mindfulness, independent thinking, and to create values that are self chosen.
I am a student today. The road is hilly and there is a headwind and I am cycling as easily as possible. No pushing, my heart will not allow it. Speed. What is it with going fast? Why do we seem to hold speed as the highest value? Is it richer to have more experiences by rushing from one to the next or to l-i-n-g-e-r? Are experiences something to be consumed like doughnuts or created from the richness of your presence?
Cars rush around me. I hear their thoughts, my thoughts: “Why doesn’t he get a car, he’ll never get anywhere at that rate?” “Thank God I’m not doing that.” “I’ll show him how it’s done, just a little push on the accelerator, and zoom, I’m up the hill.”
Speeding cars make a noise like air being ripped. They rip away the many pleasures of travel, leaving their owners with the hollowness of speed and convenience. What about an autumn leaf that falls in your path? What about the sensation of the sun warming your nose? What about eye contact with a curious cow? What about the dip into coolness next to a river? Who is the bird singing to? What about the wake up of gulping icy air? What about the moment to moment shifts of color and shadow as the clouds and sun dance? All deemed worthless before the God of Speed.
Then I spot two touring cyclists ahead of me. I can spot cycling weakness, I know the signs. The man is strong but the woman is a novice and weak. They move at her pace. I can catch and pass them. They stop to take off a layer. Hah! I gain on them. They spot me coming and hustle to get going. They pull ahead. Game on. I put out more effort than I should and get dizzy. Damn arrythmia. Must slow down. They get away.
I reconcile myself with philosophy.
But wait! They’ve pulled over at a cafe! Now I’m in the lead! Yay! I hold the lead for two anxious hours. Then I confidently stop to snack. Oh no, here they come! “Hola”, “Hola”,”Hola”.
Sensibility gradually returns. I am out of speeds spell. For the remainder of this unique and beautiful day I cycle as gently and as richly as I can.
Two pilgrims gazing towards Santiago.