Biking is almost always the answer.
Yes: I’ve been a little cranky. It’s been weird for me, honestly, since I consider myself pretty damn good at seeing the best in everything and just generally being happy. So it’s been a weird experience for me to actively have to work at not being a grump. And though I’m far from believing I’ve found a magic bullet for a blissful life or something, I’ve been feeling better, and realizing that the times when I’m on my bike have been the best ones.
It’s not just the physical activity of biking, though that is certainly a big help (an exercised stasia is a much happier stasia). It’s also the feeling of exploration, of adventure, of possibility. Walking gives me that a little, but the ground I can cover on a neighborhood walk is much less, and the capacity for exhilaration (say, when bombing down a hill) is also much less. (A walk in the woods is a whole separate animal, though — the times I’ve wandered Mt Tabor, say, or Oxbow, or other minimally developed spaces, are probably on par with a fantastic bike ride.)
Right now, biking feels like the perfect blend of speed, exercise, freedom, mediation, and escape from normal life. I feel fast and free and effortless, floating through the world, and it reminds me of how I love to be. True, I’ve been biking this whole time and have managed to feel grumpy even with my 100-plus miles of riding to and from work every week, but recently I’ve been reclaiming biking that is either totally gratuitous or to places I don’t usually go. And that is where the answer is: biking as discovery, as exploration, as charting new horizons. Biking as a means to preserve the spirit of adventure even in the midst of real life things. Biking as escape. Biking as sanity.
This morning, I left my house early to get to a weekend writing class up the hill at Lewis and Clark College, maybe an hour’s ride away. The sun was just coming up as I took off, turning the foggy world a bright pink for a scant five minutes the way it does many mornings these days, five glorious minutes while most people were still tucked cozy-like in their beds. The world was soupy and magical, fog collecting in little droplets on my eyelashes and dotting the tops of my shoes. The Willamette River could almost have been the ocean, for all I could see of the other side. A boat pushing upstream seemed to be floating in midair.
The class, external obligation that it was, is what made me leave my house early on a weekend when I might have otherwise snuggled back into my covers, but the bike ride there is what made my heart open and expand, my soul remember the thirst for life and exploration and beauty that it usually has. And once I remember that, things like this writing class or other things that I feel like should make me feel better take hold much more deeply. They have better staying power when I’m planting them in the fertile soil of a stasia made happy by exploratory bike rides.
So I don’t know. It’s still kind of weird over here in stasia-land, but as long as I have my bike and remember to let it take me to places totally outside of my normal routine I’m pretty sure everything will be okay.