Today I completed a bike tour from Bear Mountain, NY to 103rd St. Manhattan. Forty miles of pedaling in silence offered me lots of time to reflect deeply. Here are a few of my thoughts:
There are some people whose greatest fear imaginable is to try their hardest at something and still fail. So they don't try. And there are some people who relish the opportunity to meet their limits and create new ones. They aren't satisfied with not failing; they must hit the wall and then push the wall farther back.
Which kind of person am I? After five and a half hours of biking I still don't really know. I just know there are uncomfortable hints in my life that point more towards one than the other. For one thing, my greatest fear isn't that I try my hardest and still fail; it's that I didn't try my hardest and that's why I fail. There was never a defeat in my life that I didn't attribute to my laziness or apathy or lack of discipline. Everywhere I am, intellectually, spiritually, musically, physically, I can be farther if not for my lack of effort.
I deeply fear that my greatest shortcoming is that I don't try.
What motivates me? The way a bike tour works is, if it's popular enough, loads of people sign up who aren't in the physical shape to actually complete it. So after everyone has taken off from the starting line, a few trucks lag behind in the back of the pack to pick up those who have thrown in the towel (or who've stopped for other reasons, like irreparable road damage or some other emergency). When I ride, I'm constantly pushing forward, trying to pass people and not letting them pass me. But what I realized today is that I wasn't doing it because I wanted to be first. I was doing it because I didn't want to be last. I was petrified that I would get left behind and have to ride that damn truck back to the festival and eat the free lunch that is supposed to be for the winners. There's a difference between someone who pushes forward because he's chasing something and someone who's doing it because he's being chased. What is that difference?
That's it for now. Oh, and biking in midtown sucks. Almost got T-boned by at least a dozen yellow taxis. Use your freakin' turn signal!