The humbling road to the Tour de France

I apologize first to any and all world class cycling fans out there because this has nothing to do with the astonishing 2100-meter bike race that takes place in the western hills of France. Nor does it have much to do with the incredible preparation that goes into such feats of athleticism. It does how ever pull influences from time spent on a bicycle. I wouldn’t have been inspired to write about such a concept without experiencing the emotional and almost physical backlash of motor vehicle driver verses cyclist. I will admit that I too was ignorant to the idea of cyclists sharing the road with the four-wheeled exuberant pieces of steel we commonly use to commute with on our daily endeavors.  Until I was one of those leg pumping, arm indicating, “annoyances” on the road. 

It’s a beautiful Thursday morning in Bristol, UK. My wife and I are spending the winter months experiencing the working class life in England. We don’t have a car and both our places of work are close to an hour walk one way. We could use public transport but that cost money and we are trying to make the most of our time here. Saving where we can and spending where it counts, one travels around Europe. That being said the bus doesn’t get you there much faster than walking anyways. So we both took on the healthy alternative of cycling and to our surprised it was the most efficient way to get around. Not only did you not have to sit in frustrating traffic jams, or pay for costly fuel, or worry about your questionable coworker asking for a ride home at the end of the day (although that did happen regardless of the fact I was sporting a bicycle). But you get a bit of exercise. You get to charge up and unwind during those stressful days at the office. You most certainly get to where you want to go before anyone sitting in a car or a bus. You’re also doing your home and yourself a service by reducing your carbon footprint and minimizing your dependence on the corporate hands that feed. Such as the oil and gas and automotive industries. You almost experience a certain paradigm shift in pace you feel you must keep in life. All of the sudden you’re okay with taking the time from your day to stop and smell the flowers. 

Unfortunately this sense of independent freedom comes with a price. An unforeseen target is placed on your back as a menace on the street. A pylon in the rev limiting rat race we call rush hour. All of the sudden you have become the easy target for anxious road warriors to pass blame for not reaching the red light ahead 5 seconds sooner. I was completely taken back by the aggressive shouts from motorists passing by because they truly feel entitled to the entire surface area of the road. What is even worse is if you try and take your journey to the sidewalks those on foot treat you with a similar distaste.  You have been stripped of any identity of being a human being and become the source of some ones impatient outburst. 

All I can do is reflect on the situation. I’m certainly not going to be able to change every ones mind on cyclists, no matter how many particular hand signals I flash at these angry motorists as they slam their foot to floor as race by. I can how ever walk, or cycle, or even drive away with a new found perspective on just how oblivious we can be to what its like living life in another persons shoes. As cliché as it is this was such a clear example of how we can allow the conditioning of our modern society, always racing to the next destination, blurred to others around us who may live life a little differently then ourselves, to obscure the understanding that we are all in this together. Perhaps someone’s right to be a functioning human in their purest form using their god given limbs and respiratory system to go from one place to another is worth more than you speeding up to the red light ahead. 

This is all metaphorical and I am sure I will one day soon hop into my car aggressively motoring down the road, late for work or in some exaggerated state of rush. Perhaps I will be in a position totally unrelated to what I just talked about and detach myself from the idea we are all human just doing our best to survive. That is very much a human thing to do, get caught up in the system and lose sight of life on the other side. But I will always use this experience to remind my self of the humbling fact that we own a car, we do not own the road.

Act upon your inspirations

Self worth is compassionately knowing you’re worth your own appreciation regardless of  your current limitations” 

This was my finishing statement in an always deep and meaningful conversation I recently had with a close friend of mine. The bulk of the conversation lead through a rough patch he was currently experiencing in his personal life. Often we reach out to trusted friends or family when we are experiencing times of turmoil in our lives to seek a different perspective hoping to make sense of it all. And if you’re sitting there saying “no I certainly do not” give it a try the next time you find yourself feeling a little friction in life and notice not only how difficult it is to talk about ones problems, but how incredibly therapeutic it is as well. But that is a topic waiting to be written on another time. This is merely the back story that inspired my thoughts on, said, Inspiration. 

I reflected on the conversation for a little while, as I do anything because I can’t simply let things go at the drop of a dime. It is both my blessing and my curse. It wasn’t necessarily what we conversed about in actuality that had my thoughts on the move, in regards to the happenings and situations throughout my life that enables me the opportunity to dig deep into conscious conversation and articulate the world as I know it in ways that can help not only my friends and family but more often than not my own self. What drives us to do the things that we do? My only conclusion is that we are inspired to hone in on our own special set of skills and practices by individuals that were once inspired very similarly to be the people they chose to be. Which brings me to my over accentuated point that if people before us didn’t act upon their inspirations. If they didn’t take a chance to embark on their uncharted revelations carrying only their good intentions and dreams alike then we wouldn’t we have anywhere near as many beautiful and thought provoking additions to our world. Would we have music that has ignited our lives in the morning, or overwhelmed our bodies with that tingling feeling of nostalgia? Would we have resilient individuals working to better the condition that our planet is aimed for? Would we have people willing to share their fitness journeys openly; inspiring so many with the courage it takes to be vulnerable in order to make a change both physically and mentally? And to the root of all this lettering, would I have created a small blog in a universe of online content, sharing my thoughts, experiences and inspirations in hopes of making a positive impact to those willing to read in if I was not inspired by those around me to do so? 

So my conclusion is that no matter what it may be, or how insignificant your fear forces you to feel about your inspirations, just go for it. Fail if you must but at least you’re a little farther ahead in life with some new found experience. That alone is an achievement in itself. So take that leap once again towards the unknown and dare to find out what you are truly capable of, no matter what it may be. Because you never know who is tuning in and gaining insights, creativity, guidance, enlightenment or the courage to get through hardships of their own from your moments of genuine inspiration. 

Tanner Johnston