Adaptation

Several people have asked to see another journal entry. Here is one from day 104, and it references another entry, so I’m copying that in as well. This trip has been transformative and this is one example. I learned something on day 20 about adaptation and applied it on day 104. Here it is…
Covered in 6 days of sweat, dirt, bike grease, food wiped on my skin and clothes, and dare I say, even a little pee that trickled on my leg as I squatted in the woods, I am reflecting on adaptation. My hair is slicked back from oils baked in so much that when I take my ponytail out, my hair doesn’t fall around my shoulders as it once did. My clothes have been worn several days in a row, choosing the least smelly and least visible grossness of them all. Once they make it into the dirty clothes bag, where they sit and simmer with the other sweat soaked articles, they should never come out. A benefit to having the trailer is that sack gets open air away from the bikes, poor dogs.  This morning, Mark, Junebug, and Biscuit are sleeping in a circle around me, laying on an army blanket on the cold hard concrete floor. I’m sitting with my legs curled under me, wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt for the first time in weeks as it has been so brutally hot. Today, though, it is cool, a sweet relief. Raining. The sound of drops from the trees on a metal roof over the picnic shelter we are huddled under. Waiting for the sun to come up to see if it will change the radar at all from this tropical storm. I’m shivering but enjoying this feeling, wrapping my hands around a camp mug of Starbucks Via Italian Roast instant coffee as I write this. And I’m smiling like an idiot. Adaptation. Perhaps even submission. We fight to remain on one side or the other, until we reach a balance in the middle. When it starts to rain, we fight to stay dry. In my normal life I would have grabbed an umbrella, wore a rain coat, ran from place to place, and immediately toweled off and changed into dry clothes upon arrival. Dry is normal. Dry is safe. Dry is comfortable. So I fight to be dry. Not now, not any more. Now I wash my hands and face in the sink and don’t dry them. Now I do dishes under a water spigot outside some random building, water splashing onto my legs and arms, and I don’t flinch. Now it is raining and I casually walk from place to place, accepting, almost thriving, in my new state of being. On the bike, I start to heat up- my breathing strains from 90% humidity and 85 degree temps. The sweat starts to form beads under my skin but they don’t break through yet. Those moments I am in transition, and it’s uncomfortable. I want to cool myself. But I can’t. So I submit. And the sweat drips. My shirt is soaked. And I no longer care. In fact, I welcome the evaporative cooling. Back on day 5 we were swarmed by some mutant Mosquitos. Unlike normal Mosquitos, they stung all at once, hundreds in a black cloud around the body, biting through clothes even. I had 38 bites on 25% of one leg- I quit counting after that. Now, I have about 6 bites, and don’t think anything of it. Adaptation. We fight to maintain this balance, where things are known and comfortable. We fight. And that’s a good thing, sometimes. But sometimes it keeps us holding on to things that no longer serve us. From point A, origination, to point B, new status, we find this uncomfortable place of resistance. Trying to move forward while looking back. Yet if we didn’t fight, we may become like sheep. Simply following where the crowd goes. Or getting swept away by mediocrity.  There must be a place of balance. To learn what to hold onto, and what to let go of. I’m letting go of the need to control outcomes. I’m letting go of the need for details. I’m letting go of my desire to prove something. I’m holding on to simple pleasures. I’m holding on to a life worth living. I’m holding on to love of self and others. Submitting without losing myself. To find self. To adapt.
Last week we were sweating in the tent, today we woke to frost. The weather changed so fast that we don’t have our winter gear yet. Last night as we went on our evening walk, the temps had fallen 30 degrees from what the day was. The winds were blowing at 20mph. I was cold, so cold. Walking in silence as I concentrated on how my fingers and toes were filled with sharp stabbing pains, I wondered how we are going to ride in this, how will we keep everyone warm and safe. How can I make it through months of this. As we reached a low of at least 34 today, I am reflecting on my earlier thoughts from day 20 on adaptation. These thoughts ran through my mind on our morning walk. Adaptation. Submission. So I focus. Concentrate. Reflect. Crossing mindfulness with being fully present, enjoying the moment as it is, not wishing for what was or what could/should/would be. I start to calm. My body stops shivering. I can feel my fingers and toes again. I breathe deep and think about pushing warm air to my limbs, visualize it warming my blood as it flows. The sun is shining and we pause to stand in its rays. I stand with my face to the sun, my eyes closed, fully soaking it in. Have I ever noticed the way this feels? The air is cool on my skin, and fills my lungs with a sting that feels refreshing. The air smells clean and new. Energy. Renewal. I went from gritting my teeth to feeling relaxed. Enjoying this moment. Never again will I have this exact moment. How then can I focus on the discomfort rather than the beauty? Why would I wish this away? I open my eyes to see leaves glistening where the sun kisses the frost. And I wonder.. Perhaps pain comes not from our circumstance but from our resistance to it. When we accept what is, the pain is less. When we realize that even uncomfortable circumstances are fleeting moments in time, perhaps we can enjoy them. For what it is, for what it is teaching us. Maybe if we stop assigning good or bad to a moment we can enjoy all moments. Perhaps if we stop comparing the present moment with past moments (when I once was warm) and future moments (when I look forward to getting in the tent), we can see the beauty in what is, right now. I breathe in all that is this present moment and breathe out a release of attachment to labels on moments. I look down at Biscuit and giggle at the way his ears bounce when he trots. “Let’s go buddy!” We skip down the path with our faces toward the sun.
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2 thoughts on “Adaptation

  1. claire1949 December 13, 2015 / 1:01 am

    Wow. Incredible writing. Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings. As I read your words it reminded me why I ordered a custom made steel plate for the front of my Volvo with the word Antagande on it. The Volvo was made in Sweden and the word means Acceptance in Swedish. Acceptance is what I needed to learn when I walked away from a 43 year marriage and started over. Acceptance of the loss of the marriage, of rejection by some of my children and friends, acceptance of the pain from the sale of the home I lived in and the auctioning off of all the contents to total strangers. Acceptance of only being able to take what I could fit in my car. And the lessons continue. Daily. Hourly. And all the while time speeds on. Your post reminded me of my committment, lost in tbe tyranny of the urgent, to stay in the day, to live the moment to its fullest. I connected with you that day in the Publix parking lot when I drove past you and saw you lovingly stroking your dogs. When I came back out from shopping I stopped and talked to you. May God continue to bless and protect all four of you. Hugs. xo Sally

    Liked by 1 person

  2. freedompedalers December 16, 2015 / 8:54 pm

    Sally – thank you for your kind words, continued encouragement, and vulnerability in sharing this. Yours is an incredible story, and we are so honored that you chose to share it with us. We call ourselves Freedom Pedalers, knowing “freedom” means something different to all of us. The uniting bind in all of us though, is that we all must be free FROM something so we are free TO do/be something. Your story is a powerful one of breaking chains, and that is SO hard to do. You have overcome much, and all of those things you mentioned led to one very powerful, beautiful statement… Antagande of SELF. Brava, Sally! Our braveness gives others permission to be bold in their lives. Your story is inspiring. Thank you for sharing it. We still talk about you, and it was fun to see your name pop up here. We are so grateful that you are a part of our story.
    In Antagande, Mark and Georgia, Woof! -Junebug and Biscuit

    Liked by 1 person

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