The wind will take your soul on a day like this, leave it tattered and flapping in the branches of a tall tree, like a kid’s lost kite. I lay in bed two snoozes after the alarm had woken me and listened to the gusts whistling past the corners of the house. My phone told me it was 1F, or as I said to my kids, “Boys, there’s a degree outside, just the one, so dress warm.”
I pushed open the curtains and made the coffee. The wind grabbed great handfuls of snow and swirled them down the street like small, icy tornadoes. A little part of my soul died.
I just want to stretch my limbs where it’s warm, feel the sun heat my skin and raise the short hairs on my arms. I want to hammer for twenty minutes and then soft pedal for an hour, then do it again. Lately, every ride has been a survival event.
I want to drain a water bottle as I ride no-handed down the road, not shake one in a gloved hand, trying to keep it from freezing solid.
I want to feel supple rubber against hot pavement, not gamble on the traction of the gray-black snow that’s been carved and compacted by crawling cars and the boots of poor walkers, forced off the sidewalks (what sidewalks?) and into the narrow sluice left to us all.
I want take off my helmet and run my fingers through my sweat-slick hair, unzip my jersey and feel a soft breeze on my chest. I want to slug an iced coffee and pull off my socks and shoes, dangle my ride-weary feet in a stream. Then I want to take a shower.
In the last four weeks I have raked 7 feet of snow from my roof.
The Persian poet, Rumi said, “Suffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy.” Rumi lived in Anatolia, Central Asia, basically modern day Turkey, in the 13th century. He is still widely read in Persian, which means he was probably smarter than I am. And it snows in Turkey, especially in the central part of the country, which is a high plateau. Could his wisdom, his way with words notwithstanding, have come from close contact with the sort of weather we are experiencing in New England in 2015?
Maybe the hidden mercy is that one day I will be wiser than I am now. And maybe it’s that through this suffering, like suffering on the bike, I become inured to harder living, which spares me future suffering. I don’t know. That’s some heavy shit. Like the hidden mercy, accumulating on my roof, even now, the great, white walls that hem the trench from front door to street, the sodden hopes of the whole city, barking at each other over a snowblower’s rumble, honking in impassable streets.
Maybe the hidden mercy is that this isn’t really suffering. It’s only inconvenience and discomfort, and that when it’s over, we’ll understand that and be better for it. Maybe, as long as we can daydream about riding a bike, we actually have no problems at all.
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