22 September 2010

i'm still here.

At the end of last month, I found myself with a doubled commute.  My new job and school year began.  Overnight, I acquired an office, a demanding schedule, and sixty people whom I call "my students."  The transition was rough. I quickly came in contact with my own limitations as a student and teacher, as well as the limited number of possible North / South routes through Center City.  4.7 each miles, these days.

But now that I've found my legs and the heat has abated, I'm back to a point of reflection on my rides.  I've started worshipping at that bike church I used to attend.  Relaxed by now-familiar routes and the timing of the traffic signals (I always get to rest at Spring Garden), I can breath deeply and work through the daily puzzles of my life, putting them together in my mind to find clarity.

One such problem that's emerged lately was what to make of a particular recent outcome, a termination of sorts. I had strategized, when it happened, to "remain selfless, cold, and composed." When I found myself failing at this, in, you know, a mature internalized way, I asked myself, rolling along, what to make of it. And then it hits me, powerfully, so hard that I forgot traffic and potholes and the city's glittery pervasive coating of broken glass.

This doesn't make a difference in my long-term happiness.

Sure, I was a little sad in the moment.  But it was temporary, fleeting. So many of the things that I've mourned in fall's past didn't have a lasting impact on my long-term happiness. Things that hurt-- well, they did hurt-- but they didn't constrain my ability to be happy.  I pushed forward, plowed through, and ran over these miseries and seized happiness. I built myself a life.

It came in a flood, these beautiful flutters of memory of the moments that have made a difference in my long-term happiness-- the moment I put my application in the mail for my Masters, the rush of buying a big red bike, the series of mouse clicks that have purchased plane tickets for home and adventure. Taking a job at a restaurant where I learned to cook, making a drive to Park City to find that I really did want to come to Philly. These memories washed away the problems, and suddenly, I found myself twenty-six years old, settled, on my way to a job I really love, where I get to use my talents, where being who I am fills the qualifications.

And then I felt my hands grip my brakes, heard the clackity hymnody of the folding bike's noisy chain, and stopped at the stop light, satisfied. And, lucky me, I still had three and a half more miles to go.


Matt in Tacoma said...

The pedals of time just keep on turning that big wheel in the sky. Ride on to happiness...

Anonymous said...

This is why I find films like Amelie so inspiring - because they show so poignantly that, though life has some of everything, and sometimes some very difficult times, even though those difficult times are very real and very hard, all of the little details of life add up to ecstasy, if you only take the time to look at them. Consciously and intentionally look at the details in your life - the things that you touch that feel nice, the air that you breathe that smells fresh and clean, the sun hitting your face, or the rain drizzling down. Every sunrise, sunset, batch of clouds, bee that flies by, every random moment in your life is worth noticing and enjoying.

Best of luck with the school year, and I hope it's filled with billions of small ecstasies.

Bunny said...

Pearls from my favorite writer and daughter. Glad that life it treating you so good!!! Love you!

Brennen said...

I enjoy your blog quite a bit. I was a graduate creative writing student at Temple not so long ago, and I can relate to a lot of what you're saying. It's easy to recall the day I bought my new bike to commute back and forth to school in an unfamiliar city. Looking back, those bike rides, laden with heavy books and a slightly younger man, were some of the happiest moments of my life. Enjoy.