Along for the ride

She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.(1)
First “real” bike ride of the season last Sunday, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was sunny and warmish, so I got on all my cold weather gear and headed out on the Pretty Purple Bike. Only 12 miles, but a lovely first outing. My spirit was soaring all the way and for hours afterward. Today looks promising, too, if the temperature nudges up a little. We’ll see.

I’m so grateful for the role cycling has played in my life. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it (and I certainly haven’t mastered life), but it has made my life more enjoyable and healthier. It has helped me manage depression, and given me something to be excited about throughout the years. Something I can do by myself, for my health and enjoyment, outside my house and my head, which sometimes is a very big deal. It’s also just a really lovely way to be out in the sunshine and the air, with the trees and the flowers and the birds and the lake and to feel a part of the world; to be moving and free, and alive.

In Susan B. Anthony’s time the bicycle gave women increased autonomy and was representative of all women sought to gain in 19th and early 20th century America: freedom from dependence on men, equal access to activities outside the home, and visibility in society, not to mention healthy exercise.

Susan B. Anthony has always been a hero for me.  A fellow Aquarian, she never married, so those are the most obvious connections we have, but we share a common world view and hard-core idealism, also. Unlike me, however, she had the drive and the intelligence to pursue her dreams and attempt to change the world, which she did, alongside other women, among them most notably Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another hero.

I had the desire, but not the drive or the intelligence to change the world. Depression throughout my life crippled me and made simply managing my own life an all-consuming challenge. I was lucky that not marrying is not that odd now – it was a much bigger deal for Susan B. Anthony to choose that path in her time. I was able to attend college, Susan was not. I had many advantages she did not, but I fell short of my goals. I admire her because she had so much against her and in spite of it all she succeeded.

Susan B. was not interested in personal success or fame. Everything she did was out of a sense of justice and morality, fueled by her Quaker religion and innate idealism. She was not celebrated in that time for her views. She was an abolitionist, a member of the Temperance movement, and a leader in the fight for women’s rights. She was about as far from a Kardashian as it is possible to be. She wasn’t popular and she and her compatriots sacrificed a lot personally to pursue what they knew to be right, and in doing so they changed history.

That’s the path I want to be on. I have a long way to go and not much time, though. I don’t have anything to show for my life. Yet. There is still a chance I will be able to do something worthwhile for someone other than myself. I don’t think I have it in me to change history, but I could maybe change something for someone somewhere. That’s something to aspire to, I think – just the hope that I could leave this planet having made life better for just one person in some way.

I’ll think about it some more on my ride this afternoon. See you on the trail.

PS – It’s Mother’s Day in America, so if you nurture someone or something, Happy Mother’s Day to you.

2 thoughts on “Along for the ride

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