5 of 7: Pacing for Distance and Milestones
Updated: Jun 10
Continued from “Knowing My Lane”
A few weeks back in quarantine and processing my brother’s death, I needed fresh air and a change of scenery. I decided to take a nice long bike ride.
The bike I have now is a beach cruiser. With a heavy frame, it's best for casual riding.
It is NOT made for speed or performance.
I wasn’t necessarily thinking of the bike’s weight when I left the house and started my ride.
I had a route planned that was about 10 miles in a loop. Midway, I knew of a spot where I could stop and take a break in the shade. I intended to do some journaling about Ryan, and loss and all the feelings that I’d been holding tightly.
About a quarter of the way into my ride, I could tell I was not in optimal physical condition.
The weight of the bike, and the realization that my route included a very slightest, but notable incline, was draining my energy.
Although not entirely depleted, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the ride without a break. I’d be impatient and probably become more desperate to get home - making HOME more urgent and important than my original purpose - mental and emotional health.
So that half-way mile-marker break was absolutely essential.
I got off my bike, found a spot under a tree, drank some water, ate my granola bar. For part of the time I journaled, allowing my feelings the time and space they deserved to come forward. And for part of the time I just sat there, listening to the birds and the sound of the wind rustling the leaves.
Before too long, my physical energy returned. I knew I’d have no problem riding home.
More importantly, my spiritual energy was refilled too. And I felt more confident and prepared to face the world, in spite of my grief and global challenges.
NOTE: Audre Lorde, in A Burst of Light and Other Essays, wrote
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
Six days ago, in the outrage of George Floyd’s murder and a U.S. awakening of white consciousness that our BIPOC siblings have been waiting for with their lives…, I needed fresh energy and a change in my action. I decided to commit to writing a week’s worth of daily posts about my own path on and toward anti-racism.
At this moment on my journey, I have some significant experience and expertise to draw from, and I have a life-time of remaining learning to do.
The content of anti-racism work is heavy. It requires deep, personal reflection, honest acknowledgement of my role in perpetuating and upholding racism and other systems of oppression and actively changing the ways I show up with and for others. All this to advance racial justice, demanding that black and brown lives are valued, protected and honored in the same ways my white life is valued, protected and honored. It is NOT made for simple, overnight fixes..
I knew of the weight of this work when I pledged to this writing activity.
Yet, right about half way through my commitment (yesterday/Sunday) I could tell I was not in optimal mental condition. What caught me off guard was the additional *cumulative weight of curious and compassionate requests from friends and family for conversations about **how to prioritize their own anti-racism journey.
Although not entirely depleted, I knew if I had tried to write yesterday, I would be impatient and more focused on checking the box of “completed” than my original purpose - a commitment to sharing my experiences in hopes that other white folks like, who watched Oprah once and thought we were “woke” can envision themselves on the path of anti-racism. (And even better… maybe something them will act on that vision!)
So yesterday’s writing break, with no post or update from me, was absolutely essential.
I tried to start writing! I did. And I was getting NO WHERE when a friend called and encouraged me to take a pause and join her for dinner. And so I did. For part of our time together, we did talk about the current racial national crisis and things that were happening right here in Arizona. And for part of the time, we just enjoyed a meal, talked about family, reminisced old times and I listened to the sound of laughter filling a home.
Before too long, fresh ideas for these posts came into my head and I knew I would pick up my writing with energy and refined focus. More importantly, my spiritual energy was refilled too. Today, I feel confident in my endurance to whatever anti-racism learning milestone lies ahead.
Rest and recharge are not breaks FROM the work, they are a PART OF the work. And then we get back to our ride, maintaining a steady and forward pace toward change.
To be continued….
*To be clear, my experience pales in comparison - actually there IS NO legitimate comparison - to the cumulative weight and impact that BIPOC folks are experiencing right now. Ralph Remington, a black man I know and admire for his voice in this work, recently modeled honesty of his limits and needs.
“Dear Friends, I know that you all are struggling right now. And I know that you're reaching for answers.” … “My Inbox has been filled with requests from all over the country. I'm in trauma and in pain. I ask you to understand. Please read my posts and comment as appropriate but I can't be here for you in that way right now.”
**I truly LOVE that so many people are sitting up and taking notice. People are asking the questions. And… more than any other time in our history...you have 1000s of voices and answers and contemplations available at your fingertips, i.e. Google. I realize that also may feel like drinking water from a fire hose.
Do the best you can.
Step by step. I’m right beside you.