I read Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a book about a young woman who’s unhappy in her starter marriage, leaves her doting husband, and decides to travel the world spending three months eating in Italy, three months praying in India, and three months loving in Bali.
It’s kind of similar to my life, except that I never actually got married. And I was never miserable enough to cry myself to sleep on a bathroom floor, and instead of deciding to travel, I started racing motorcycles. And I was never miserable, really, just enjoying the typical anxieties of a young lady without a greater purpose.
I was thinking of this book a few weeks ago on one of my mountain bike rides. I was riding up a steep dirt hill, at approximately 4.1 mph, while a swarm of gnats was circling my face, bumping into my cheeks, attaching themselves to my Oakleys, and being extremely annoying. For minutes. And minutes. And more. As I was trying to navigate muddy ruts, with my heart rate solidly in the upper reaches of Zone 4, and a cycling partner yards ahead of me breezing up the hill like it was no big deal.
It reminded me of the scene where Elizabeth Gilbert is talking about her yogi in India telling her to be in such a meditative state that she doesn’t feel the need to swat away the flies that visit with her in the humidity in India while she “prays” and meditates.
Okay. Okay okay okay.
If I were going to spend three hours meditating, I would also like to be burning 2,000 calories, rather than just sitting there like a fat, out of shape, resting heart rate of 72 bpm Buddha, at one with the universe and my fat cells. I would much prefer to exercise my spirit by ignoring the swirling gnats while riding a freaking bicycle up a mountain than by sitting still, doing something that so many people do only for the purposes of being cool.
Don’t get me wrong, I like yoga. I’m built like a long, skinny steel beam with boobs, only, less strong. All the inflexibility of a steel beam and none of the strength. So yoga is helping me become more flexible, and I therefore love it, but I also feel slightly suspicious of its societal superiority. I just kind of wonder about all the trendy white girls who think they’re so cool because they can say “namaste” in a bad Hindi accent. As much as I love lululemon athletica, and will likely spend my winter wearing nothing but this:
I still wonder if yoga isn’t merely a vehicle, a place, in which to wear really awesome, sporty clothes, feel trendy, and look hot. It’s okay if it is, I’ll still do it, look hot, and be a little more able to twist myself into a sweaty pretzel (okay maybe just a sweaty pretzel dog) in the bedroom, but I just think that more girls should be trying super duper rad things like mountain biking, or riding motorcycles. Because if I want to relax, I’ll read tweets and watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, thank you very much.
Anyway, after having done at least six yoga classes at the beautiful and elegant Yoga Source in Los Gatos, California, I will say that riding up a mountain on a bicycle in the dirt with no breeze on your face and hundreds of gnats attacking your face is getting me a lot closer to inner peace than sitting on a hard floor listening to Portishead.
One of the things I remember telling my friends and family after I started riding a motorcycle was, “when I’m riding, I don’t have time to think about anything else. Like when a boy is supposed to call, or text, or why that girl was posting on his Facebook. I’m just…totally in the moment. The moment of preserving my life and moving through the world like I’m flying.”
Inner peace, and a greater purpose, can all be found on two wheels. If you dare.
Try it. You might like it. Do something different. Be awesome. Be you. Keep the rubber side down, and the glam side up. Allow the truth to flow, and live from the heart, all while burning up some fossil fuel, tearing up some trails, and annoying your neighbors. Namaste!