Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Needles and Pins

I have a lot of aches and pains. I can trace every phantom twinge to a past injury. My body is a time capsule of nerve portraits, of all the risks that didn't pay off. All the times the dice lied, the cards didn't come, and the inevitable moment when the chips drift away, as if by magic. These little reminders make me wonder, if there was ever a time I didn't carry some arthritic petroglyph, of a battle lost.

I love it when things are working. I believe that everything from bicycles to relationships, connect at the molecular level. How else could you explain how two guitars made on the same day, have such different voices? You throw a new surfboard in the ocean, and it glides like an arrow. A stolen glance, a sentence of small talk, and you meet your partner for life. Someone wasn't watching, their foot never touched the brake, and you never sleep through the night again. Door number one has a new car, number two has a goat. Roll the bones.

I was preoccupied with my issues when I pulled on the Lycra yesterday. I wondered if my back pain would return. I wondered if I had enough sunlight. I led a solo debate on which route would be best. I had ridden them all a thousand times. I searched for the combination that would open the lock. I fumbled for the keys. I stopped on the levy to stretch my aging neck. I opened and closed my hands, trying to squeeze away a lifetime of abuse and injury. I looked up and the sky was exploding. I couldn't look away. Suddenly the ride was not a worry or a plan. It was a moment, a memory, a picture, and a cure.

I rode home in no particular hurry, got to the tracks, and meandered back to the pavement. I forgot about my neck, my back and my hands. I couldn't remember what I was worried about. All those aches and pains are my badges of a life well lived. I remember how I earned them all. They are not ghosts of my failure. They are not my sins. They are the only memories worth having. The times when I risked it all for a frontside air, a crystal blue reef break, a bike race metal, or a multitude of dreams that never came true. They hurt and soothe in the same breath.

I will keep them all.