Sunday, November 4, 2012

Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

Despite a beautiful morning of chilly temps and (finally!) clear skies yesterday, it was clear before many miles had elapsed that the legs were just not answering the call. Even a stop for a bit of tasty joe to jump-start the neurons didn't do the trick.

I climbed Cave Hill Road in Leverett, the first real ascent I had planned. At the top, I was knackered, so I decided to toss the route for the day and do a long-awaited detour. Right at the apex of the hill, there's a sign for the New England Peace Pagoda, a widely-known worship site for Buddhists and seekers around the country. I'd topped this hill so many times, but never ventured off the road and up the steep trail to the very tippy-top, where devotees have created, I discovered, a small paradise.

The pagoda peeks through the trees on the trail

It's size and sparkling facade make a strong impression 

Walking around back reveals niches in which the Buddha does his thing...

...which seems to include taking a nap. Now there's a path I can get with!

Prayer flags snap in the wind everywhere on the idyllic grounds

A peaceful rock garden has patterns raked into the white pebbles

Many paths, one goal. I often travel my path by bicycle.

After snapping the photo above, I sat to do a bit of meditation in the warm sun. About five minutes in, just as my nervous system was hitting the peace groove, I heard a loud crash and opened my eyes to see my bike blown over by the wind (or a trickster deity; I'm still not sure). I had to bust out the multi-tool and do some surgery on the rear derailleur right there by the rock garden. I tried to work as meditatively as I could. 

I think the lesson was something along the lines of, "Mindfulness includes propping up your bike carefully, Grasshopper."

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