Tuesday, April 1, 2008

long ride

I did a 100 mile bike ride on Saturday. That's a long way. I rode with 172 other cyclists from Santa Clarita out to Ventura (where we had lunch at a lovely park by the harbor) and then back. We started a little before 8 AM. I finished at 3:30 PM

I'm training for the AIDS/LifeCycle, a 7 day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles raising money for HIV/AIDS services in those two cities and the beneficaries' programs worldwide. This will be my 4th time doing the ride.

I've often remarked how cycling is my primary spiritual practice. (As a minister, I don't often get to worship). The amount of time devoted to a long ride, the quiet, the slow pace, the repetitive physical motion, the experience of being immersed in a slowly changing environment. There's both lots of sensory input, and also lots of time for reflection.

My biggest spiritual insight on this occassion was noticing the incredible amount of existing things in the world. I hadn't done this particular ride before so I was on roads I had never seen before, seeing sights I'd never seen before. But as closely as I tried to pay attention I'm sure I missed at least 90% of what there was to see. Most spiritual disciplines promote "awareness" of some sort call it "mindfulness" or "attention" or "Be here now." But even a trained mind isn't capable of taking in everything that happens, not even in the scene around us, let alone everything happening everywhere at every moment. The mind notices what it needs to for our own purposes of survival, but it gives us a very thin picture of what's really out there.

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