Cycling onwards

When I first began working on this post, I could barely see out of one eye, as it was puffed up and bruised from a recent bike accident, when my tire skidded on the groove of a streetcar track and threw me off the bike. I whacked my face – right near my eye. In spite of the shock and blood pouring down my head, I managed to cycle home and eventually get to hospital.

It’s been a long week of recovery, with lots of swelling and headaches, but it could have been a lot worse. With all the resting and reduced screen time (something many of us could benefit from), I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what lessons I could glean from this terrible incident.

For one thing, it’s made me appreciate how fragile we are as physical beings and to not take your health for granted. Recovering from an accident or illness strips you down to a very basic place where all the things you were fussing about fall away in importance. Suddenly, all you need are rest, food, and peace and quiet. And what a relief it is when the body starts to heal again and your energy returns.

I’ve also tried to be less judgmental of other people. Who knows why someone is wearing dark sunglasses (as I was) or carrying themselves in a certain way? We could all do with being more compassionate with others, as we would hope people would be compassionate with us in our own times of weakness.

On top of this I would add the importance of caring for one another – let’s do it more. I was fortunate that my neighbour kindly patched me up and drove me to hospital, but in some ways, the worst part about this experience has been dealing with it mostly alone. Even everyday tasks like cooking and washing dishes became gargantuan.

A traumatic incident takes time to process, and it’s therapeutic to have people to talk to. Maybe there is someone you could reach out to today, to help them when things go wrong. Let’s delve deep into our inner empathy and show one another the true essence of our humanity that binds us together.

The Wordle is out

I’m not someone who generally follows trends, but as a self-declared wordsmith, I’m delighted that the popularity of Wordle has gone viral. In this game, you have six chances to guess the daily five-letter word, while the computer prompts you if a letter you’ve guessed is in the word or not and whether it’s in the correct position.

The game has divided people into devotees who avidly play it every day and those who hate it and recoil from an attempt. People have become so invested, that protests have been mounted over issues, such as the use of American spelling and the validity of certain words. In response to grievances over the recently used word, ‘caulk’, The New York Times, who run the site, removed all potentially obscure words from the system.

I love Wordle, of course, as it’s fun and immensely satisfying when I finally snag the solution – usually on the fourth or fifth try, but occasionally on the very last go, sighing with relief at rising once again to surmount the linguistic challenge.

And in fact, we make decisions in the manner of Wordle on a daily basis. We often know when things aren’t working, but not always the particulars of how or what to change. We feel sure we’re right and get frustrated when a situation continues to elude us, whereas, we may, in fact, be very close to a solution, which might be achieved by moving around one or two things, or plumping for an option we hadn’t previously considered. Some scenarios can be clearly worked out, some are just luck and some matters take a bit longer to settle.

However we arrive at a solution, we have to continue to try. If nothing else, the satisfaction and peace of mind at solving a problem strengthens our resilience in our ability to do so in future. And perhaps it can even bring us the one word that we’re all striving for – joy, or maybe even b-l-i-s-s.

The heart of the matter

We were due for even more snow last week, on top of the piles had already been dumped and were still messily sprawled all over the city. I decided on the day before its arrival that I should get my errands and grocery shopping done. After a morning of virtual meetings, I set out later than planned, hoiking my bike into the slushy alleyway. It was a beautiful sunny day, and all of a sudden, I had a terrible urge to go to the Humber River, a journey which entailed a lengthy transit ride and was in the opposite direction to the errands.

I was literally stuck standing still in the alley having a raging head/heart debate about how impractical and unfeasible this would be in my timeframe versus how wonderful it would be by the river. I opted to prevaricate by going in the direction of the sensible errands and decide when I got to the main street. I put it to the universe – if a streetcar in the direction of the river appeared when I got to the street, I would hop on. Well, there it was…

So, yes, I went to the Humber – my head grumbling the whole way – but the river was magnificent – the water gushing and breaking through the ice. I saw many beautiful creatures and my heart felt full. It didn’t matter that I later on I ended up scrambling around to get everything done – only grabbing one wrong item in my ‘supermarket sweep.’

But for me, the biggest wrong is not living in your heart. It’s something we all struggle to do, especially in our head-centred world. Of course, your head can help you to make decisions, but it can also make you feel like you’re drifting away from what is really important to you. it’s your heart pounding against your body that always knows, that connects you to your passion and the pulse of what it truly means to be alive. It transcends the everyday tik-tock existence and connects you to eternity. And for me, that can never be the wrong place to be.

Taking a stand

This week’s story isn’t so much about stepping up for a cause but about a stand – for a digital keyboard. Of course, there are always ways to extend the story into something wider, or I’d have to change the theme of my blog, wouldn’t I? 🙂

Every day for the past two months, I’ve been playing my beloved rental digital piano. I was enjoying it, but frustrated by how the keyboard kept wobbling on the cross stand when I played. I tried various measures to stop the shaking and nothing worked, so I just put up with it. Eventually, my annoyance overcame my inertia and I went back to the shop and asked what I could do about it. The staff suggested I swap it for a sturdier stand – at no extra charge. I contemplated this some more – as the stands were bulky to transport, even more so in the snow. But finally, this week, I lugged in the old stand via public transit and swapped it for the new. Problem solved – no more shaking – and I could finally be free to enjoy playing and letting my thoughts drift onto other things.

Sometimes the biggest issue in our problems is cogitating over them and dwelling in indecision and uncertainty, while what we just need most is more information. Or, when we get the information we need, not following up on it. In this way, just pursuing answers to a problem gets you halfway towards solving it, if not arriving at a complete solution itself.

The importance of solving small problems can’t be underestimated because you’re exercising a muscle that will help you to tackle the larger ones. Taking action over lesser issues shows that you have the skills, will and determination to address and resolve whatever is bothering you, which can give you the confidence and encouragement to address the bigger concerns in your life. You’re also clearing space in your brain from annoying problems to broach the larger and more penetrating questions and issues we all face in our lives. Which, by the way, I do much better, playing music. 🙂