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Life-changing Moments


“Sometimes, you feel as though you are riding the bicycle backwards. You feel like you are backtracking and heading in the wrong direction, but really what’s happening is contraction and release. The universe is preparing you for something much greater and like a sling shot, it’s going to shoot you forward — you just have to move backwards for a little bit.” – http://tinybuddha.com/

I find myself in the midst of a transition – life changing – moment. Following years of being a slow runner, I am gradually transitioning into accepting myself as a slow bicycle rider.

slowriderMy running resumé includes two marathons, a ten miler, and numerous shorter races. Many times I have assumed the essential role of last runner, literally just strides ahead of the flashing lights on the emergency vehicle sweeping the event.

Sometimes I’m quizzed, ” What was your finishing time? What is your pace?” I explain that I have absolutely no idea, adding that ” if I feel like going out for lunch or dinner and a good brew afterwards … I win!”  Truth is I do remember the time of one of my runs. On my very first organized run, the Motorola Austin Marathon, I tore up the course in a blistering 5 hours flat. Surely the swiftest finishers had long since showered and changed clothes.

During one memorable running of The Alien Chase, a race walker  and I talked – as we covered the entire course at an identical speed.  It temporarily embarrassed me to compare myself to an 85-year-old  who could walk as fast as I could run.  But my emotion abruptly turned to pride after I overheard him explaining how he traveled by bicycle everywhere he went, not even owning a car,  including a yearly round trip ride from Roswell to Latin America.

In The Snow Leopard, echoing Ecclesiastes 3, Peter Matthiessen writes:

snow leopardjpg

All worldly pursuits have but one inevitable end, which is sorrow:  acquisitions end in dispersion; buildings end in destruction; meetings , in separation; births, in death … Confronted by the uncouth specter of old age, disease, and death, we are thrown back upon the present, on this moment, here, right now, for that is all there is.  And surely that is the paradise of children, that they are at rest in the present, like frogs and rabbits.

How are you learning to slow down?

Mark Ash

About Mark Ash

Mark is originally from New Mexico. After a career teaching writing and photojournalism, he spent time at several Borders bookstores back in Pennsylvania. Mark and his wife Martha moved to Louisville from Philadelphia. His two adult children (and four Las Cruces granddaughters) live in New Mexico. Mark is interested in the lives of incarcerated persons and works as a Freedom 101 volunteer at the New Albany, Indiana jail. He has also trained to be a restorative justice facilitator. Four years as an EFM student have given him a taste for theological reflection. He enjoys bicycling and hiking and running with Martha.
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  1. Slowing down? Much of it is gradual, hard to perceive, but definitely happening. Then there are moments when I try something I used to do and my back says “oh, no you don’t.” Drowsiness also slows me down, like it or not. Going to sleep earlier. But some of it is more conscious–pacing myself, setting goals/planning realistically, driving in the right lane, reading, listening, trying to play songs at the right tempo with a groove instead of everything too fast. At the same time, it’s important to keep moving, keep exploring, keep growing, appreciate life and what it has to offer in its many facets.

    • Mark and Martha: This reading was wonderful! As I read it, my body started to relax and my mind became more peaceful. Thank you for that. I have learned that I may need a hip replacement. And this good because the pain and movement restriction are almost too much. My plan is to spend this year devoted to me and my health. Losing weight , building body strength and slowing down are prerequisites to the surgery. Besides this, I will devote time to family and Joe Sestak. Thanks for the uplift. Love Jeanne

  2. Particularly relevant thoughts. Thank you. The Mattheissen quote is poignant during these times of upheaval and destruction.

    To be at rest in the present. I wish that for all of us.

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