This week, I pulled out the Sekai, my rough-stuff touring conversion. Regular readers will remember this as the cheap mountain bike I bought last fall for $25. I was still reeling on multiple levels from my sudden and painful departure from the bicycle industry, and in October of 2012 I had no idea what my life would look like. On an impulse I saw this bike in a craigslist ad and brought it home in my trailer. I figured that, for as cheap as it was, I could fix it up and sell it for a fair amount more, and in the meantime it would give me something to do with the copious amounts of spare time that, in the first weeks after quitting Citybikes, I now found myself with.
In the end it turned out that the bike would fit me perfectly as a touring bike. So I rebuilt it with drop bars and it become my rough-stuff-touring-rando bike. I rode it all winter and well into the spring.
Then, a few days before I left for The Incredible June -- an entire month of Jewish music work out of town -- I hung it up on a hook.
Two days ago, I took the Sekai down off the hook for the first time since May. I put it in the repair stand and set about cleaning it. I removed dirt and greasy stains from the tubes nearest the drive-train; I cleaned the gunk off the rear derailleur pulleys and scrubbed the chain, and removed gunk from the chainrings up front. I wiped down the rims, which had collected months of road grit. And finally, I re-lubed the chain, spun the wheels, and decided it was ready for a ride.
I am in a similar process right now on a more personal, spiritual and emotional level. The Jewish High Holidays, a time of introspection and seeking forgiveness, begin in a little over two weeks. Just as I need to maintain my bicycle and regularly remove dirt and grit so it runs well, so I must also periodically clean my heart -- to let go of old behaviors and notions about the world that no longer serve me -- so I can move forward with enough space for new meanings and opportunities to come in.
The day before Kol Nidre -- this year that will be September 12 -- will mark a year (Jewishly, anyway) since I turned in my key and walked away from the bicycle industry, and in so doing cleared out space for new things to come in and for my life to change. And believe me, it has been more than simply my professional life that has been changing. I recognize that I am in a near-constant state of emotional and spiritual change, from the ground up. I recognize that working with people who were so pessimistic about the world, about people, was harmful to my psyche and that remaining there would have been disastrous for me. I had to leave so that I could surround myself with people who know how bad things are and who still have faith that we can, in some way, make things better for ourselves and our children. I had to leave the bike shop because the collective nihilism was killing my soul, and there was no way I could remain there and simultaneously move forward in a good and healthy way.
So here I am. I recognize that everything happened because it needed to, because it was supposed to. I know that I had to leave in order to set my feet on the path where they are now. And I am at peace with how it has all gone, and where I am today.
And with that, I think I'll go for a little bike ride.