I've been off bicycles for over a week and a half, due to work-related travel and then a really nasty cold that has laid me low for several days.
On top of that, Portland got some snow. Not much -- a couple of inches at most -- but enough to paralyze the city and start winter break from school a couple of days early.
So I've been home, hacking and coughing and unable to do much else.
Except browse the interwebs and listen to the news on the radio.
Maybe that hasn't been such a great idea.
Because between all the mayhem of the world and my own thoughts running amok, nothing good is running through my brain today:
1. Aleppo has fallen to the Syrian army. Other than a few alarmist posts on my Facebook feed, no one of any great power or importance in the world is saying or doing anything about it. And hundreds of thousands who survived the bombings will die trying to get out of Syria.
2. The homeless encampments all over Portland and hundreds of other US cities are still there. Perhaps some people have managed to go inside, or have left for warmer places; but most are still down on their luck and slowly freezing to death. And unless we are all willing to take these people into our private homes (which I admit is a huge risk, considering just how many are suffering from untreated mental illness), they will stay where they are, because the city has nowhere to house them safely -- and no political will to do anything about it.
3. I took another trip by airplane last week, for work. The work was rewarding and I grew from the experience and I am generally quite grateful for all of that. The only thing is that my worry about my expanding carbon footprint refuses to go quietly. It bugs me all the time, and I cannot shake it.
I know that this is what I've chosen to do for a living now -- travel the country and make music -- but the whole travel-the-country part is weighing heavily on me nearly all the time. It feels like I am ignoring something important about what I value in the world, even as I try to spread goodness with something else I value in the world. It's a huge conundrum and I don't have any sense of resolution about it.
4. I have had all sorts of thoughts about death lately -- specifically, my own. I'm not suicidal or anything -- I'm pondering the existence of my life, and what happens after I'm gone. Old questions about the life of the soul that I haven't pondered this deeply since my mother's death twenty years ago are popping up again. What happens to my bethness when I'm gone? Am I taking up space on the earth by my lifestyle, health needs and other unsolvable issues? I sometimes worry that I've lost sight of why I'm here and what I'm supposed to be doing. And I wonder about an afterlife.
My last stint serving as a Shomrah (guardian) at the funeral home left me feeling incredibly drained and exhausted for a couple of days afterwards. I don't know what that means but I feel a need to pay attention to it.
5. My Crohn's is actually changing and probably getting gradually worse. Going to the bathroom requires effort that leaves me feeling noticeably tired right afterwards. My medication isn't effective and I will have to consider other options (none of which I could afford if the Affordable Care Act goes away with the new administration). Getting sick with an otherwise ordinary cold greatly affects the severity of my fatigue. And that, too, makes me think about my mortality in sharper focus.
6. I honestly haven't felt like riding a bike a whole lot since the days turned wet and cold. I used to think riding in the rain was no big deal, and now I tend to avoid it in spite of my cycling history. Is this my involuntary response to getting older, to some kind of self-preservation that just happens? It doesn't feel entirely conscious on my part, even though I'm aware that it's happening. I am not sure where I'm headed physically, emotionally or spiritually these days. I wonder if, on some level, I am beginning to feel the beginning of my downward slope in this life.
I don't feel terribly morbid about any of this most of the time. Rather, it feels like something that is happening within me, rather than something I am consciously making happen. My will has little to do with it. All I know is that I am incredibly tired -- fatigued, really, unable to make myself feel anything energetic inside right now. And I suspect there's much more to it than simply having a bad cold or the interaction of that bad cold with Crohn's.
I can still look at pictures of bicycles, but the idea of going out on a cold day and riding one does not inspore me in the slightest. When I consider that I stopped racing only four years ago, the change in my body and mind is surprising.
This blog may eventually become less about bicycles and more about everything else. If you find this to be the case and you decide not to hang with it, I understand. Enjoy the ride, wherever you go. Meanwhile, I will rest and wait for things to get better; and hopefully next week will be a little drier and I'll be well enough to go for a short ride. Cheers.