We woke to steady drizzle on this n-teenth day of the zombie apocalypse. The dog went out the backdoor but didn’t leave the porch, preferring to sit quietly and watch the falling rain. A raw wind stirred the trees and dampened the spirit.
But you know, screw that.
This isn’t a time for self-pity, inertia, or freeform catastrophism. In fact, those things are the enemy of health and progress (although they are admittedly intoxicating). As an introvert, I’m feeling the negative effects of social isolation far less than many of my friends, but even I have seen how maintaining connections and imparting structure on my days has a positive impact on my frame of mind.
What we are watching is a long-form tragedy, people falling ill, some dying, and I don’t want to minimize that in any way. This thing will touch us all in one way or another before it’s substantively over. We will all suffer consequences. But I’ve seen my father and brother both die in the last 9 months. I’ve helped my mother through chemotherapy. I’m living in the shit storm, even independent of the pandemic, and I frankly don’t give a shit.
Good things are happening, too.
I’m writing more, which feels great. I’m reading more. I’m spending more time talking with my wife and kids, more time with my dog in the woods. Far flung friends have been calling me on the phone. TO TALK. My wife has her job still, and we’re spending our money on things that support our community. We are thinking about that community more. We are exercising. We are dreaming of future travel. And I’m building a new gravel bike, a sanity machine.
Of all my friends, the cyclists seem to be faring the best. They’re out and about, mostly on their own or in pairs, in off hours. They’re tuning up their bikes or shopping for new ones, now that they finally have the time to research. I have 3-4 friends or neighbors currently texting me questions about bikes they’d like to buy. I think it’s not just commerce or need either. I think people are realigning their priorities and mostly coming to the conclusion that they want to ride more in whatever phase of life comes next.
This week’s Group Ride asks what new structure you’ve added to your daily life to preserve sanity and forward progress. Have you been reprioritizing riding? Have you spent time daydreaming of (or web searching for) a new bike? Or have you succumbed to the collective mood of fear and retreated into some smaller version of yourself? If so, what do you think the way out looks like?