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Blissful Reflection: Bicycles & Writing

{Blissful Reflection is a series of short essays that highlight a story and photo that made my week meaningful.}

The process of writing my print book has brought me a lot of joy and happiness. It’s also been incredibly challenging and at times it’s made me extremely grumpy. But, that doesn’t deter me from writing. Over the years, I’ve found that happiness, joy, and curiosity go hand in hand with challenging projects. Without a challenge, my creativity seems to dry up and my focus seems to wane.

Interestingly, I’ve also learned that too much focus can be a bad thing. I’ve found that when I’m zoomed in on writing I’m not as present as I should be. For example, on Wednesday I left my knitting circle and headed to Coava Coffee to work. The hours flew by and before I knew it, I had to go. I wandered out to my bike and discovered that it was unlocked. I’d been so consumed with thoughts about my book and editing that my bike was propped up by a two-hour parking sign for way too long without a lock. I can’t believe that it didn’t get stolen!

I learned a few things from this little incident.

First, live in the present moment. As William James once said, “The education of attention would be an education par excellence.”

It’s easy for me to get caught up in my own head space. I bet you’ve had similar experiences too. For example, have you ever driven your car home, gotten to your destination, and then wondered how you got there in the first place? I’ve had that happen before and it’s a very unsettling feeling to have gaps in your memory.

Second, most people are good. Yet, it’s easy to think otherwise. When I listen to the news, I’m more likely to hear about war, famine, rape, and murder, instead of the good things happening in the world. I don’t want to minimize these problems, but it’s important to focus on the positive too. For instance, it would have been all too easy for someone to steal my bike on Wednesday. Taking a time out for a little bit of introspection and reflection reminds me that most people are good.

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What did you learn about yourself this week? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • mark September 3, 2011, 3:42 pm

    I can’t believe that I’ve never written this story before, but your blissful reflections on good things and delightful inattention brought this up:

    In 1999, my senior year, I drove my pop’s old VW van to school. Instead of study hall I took surf PE (god bless SoCal). One day I was running late because the waves were good and I had an allergy for pre-calculus. I arrived at school, half at home, half at school, half at the beach–entirely nowhere.

    So I grabbed all my school materials and left the Van. With the keys in the ignition. With the ignition on. With my car in 1st gear, but w/out the parking break on.

    My friends could hear the car at break, and decided to start driving it around our school’s parking lot, then parked it at the edge of the walkway by the language and history classrooms—our haunt. They laughed, then decided to see how far they could get on before the grounds-manager stopped them. I had to explain that it was my car, I’d left the keys in, and that they were teaching me a lesson. They were my *real* friends, and I was, um, known, for prodigious inattention.

    I’ve sense made some mad dashes–and haven’t been so blessed by fortunawith occasions (like you describe, when I’ve left things unlocked, unmanaged, and unhinged. W/you, I share a delightful cloudy-mindedness (probably far more often :-/). I try to forgive me, but it’s hard to explain things like why I left my computer on the dashboard, or why I backed the car over my iPod (which was in my shoe).

    :/
    Thanks,
    M

    • Tammy Strobel September 4, 2011, 12:08 pm

      Mark – Thanks for sharing your story! It’s good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with these kinds of issues. Have a lovely Sunday!

  • Melita September 3, 2011, 3:44 pm

    Thank you for another lovely post Tammy! You’re right – it is so important to remember that most people are good!
    Believing people are ‘bad’ (or at least more so than we are!) means we approach life assuming that everyone else is “out to get us”. If they accidentally bump into us we can easily start thinking they are purposefully trying to ruin our day, and so on. I’ve seen this belief in action in some places and it has really frightening consequences!
    If on the other hand, we believe most people are good, then someone bumping into us becomes an opportunity for a smile, a laugh, a conversation, and even a friendship!

  • Sherri Dunham September 3, 2011, 5:38 pm

    These are two things that I’ve been focusing on a lot this week too. Being in Costa Rica where petty theft is the most common crime, I have to be very careful about how I carry my possessions and even how I store them in my home. Much like locking up your bike, it takes a good deal of mental energy to guard other valuables from being stolen – even when I’m not at home. At the same time, I try to keep in mind that the vast majority of people do not steal, that it doesn’t happen all the time, and that Costa Ricans are good, peaceful people. There are just relatively a few bad eggs (like everywhere in the world) that put you on your guard.

  • Dan September 3, 2011, 6:00 pm

    I learned that rapid drops in atmospheric pressure make me sleepy. A typhoon blew through here this weekend and all I want to do is sleep.

  • Stacey September 3, 2011, 6:40 pm

    The bike thing has totally happened to me before… well, actually, I had put a lock on it, but had missed locking the bike TO the pole 🙂
    It was still there 4 hours later when my shift at the yarn shop was over… I felt VERY lucky!

  • Roberta September 4, 2011, 4:34 am

    I do dog rescue. Sometimes, I just have to pass over and/or delete the umpteenth horrible story of pain and suffering. Like you, I know there is evil in the world; I am doing my small part to ameliorate it for Beagles and hounds. There are, indeed, good stories, too, which I need to focus on….while reaching out to those in need.
    LOVE the quote about attention – will steal it. My attention to detail in all aspects of life has declined in the past few years :(. Good to hear the stories from your readers, too (esp. Mark’s).
    I like the new “format.” Tight, to the point, yet gentle.

  • Brianna September 4, 2011, 10:28 am

    Awesome photo, Tammy!

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