There is a bear living in my back yard. Not just metaphorically, but a real, live B.C. Bike Race, eat the small dog, massive apple sauce poop pile, growling, stinky, large black type of bear out there. I am not really too concerned about it, aside from the slight danger faced by the aforementioned small dog during night time bathroom breaks, but the bear makes me think about my place in the world. Before I came here, he/she probably just hung out on this hillside during the fall, gorging on apples, pears and blackberries and didn’t have to contend with shot gun wielding skinny bike racers yelling “cover me!” as they took the trash out or headed out for training rides.
Once I have made my escape for what I am assuming to be the bear’s kingdom, I can finally relax and settle into my normal meditative training ride, tuning out my concerns and just focus on the task at hand.
But then I start to wonder, what is the bear concerned about? Walt Whitman wrote that he could easily turn and live with the animals; they are so placid and self contained. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, nor is a single one dissatisfied nor demented with the mania of owning things. They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
What can my backyard bear teach me about life? What can it teach me about racing my bike? How can the intrinsic beauty of this majestic animal help me become a more whole person, or maybe just a better bike racer?
Sometimes late at night I grab the 4000 candle power spot light and scan the hill side in search of my furry friend. I spy his green eyes through the myrtle tree and stand and stare long and long, thinking: How am I going to take down the Cannondale-CX World guys this weekend? Are all those struggling hours of LT intervals going to pay off and make me faster? Is the journey the destination? So many questions, and yet the bear never answers, he just stares and stares, silent and strong, waiting for the dog to come out and blindly wander just a little bit closer.
Then it hits me! The bear is content in itself—in its own peculiar existence. The appearance of a house and people and dogs on the hillside did nothing to alter the world perspective of the bear, he’s just existing, striving and eating what comes his way. I need to see the lesson in this perspective. I so often worry and stress my mind on the intangible factors governing my life. The long airport lines, the traffic, bad legs at bike races, poor showings in lieu of the ones I desire.
But what of the complete reality of my experience? Even if it is not exactly what I had imagined or desired, is it not valuable in its self? The bear is trying to teach me to take whatever comes along for what it is, neither judge nor qualify it, just to be in it, at the moment and be happy with that. I am trying to listen to the bear. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me go a little bit faster when I pedal hard. Or maybe he just wants me to come a little bit closer so he can see what I taste like. Either way, I will keep the bear in my mind during the next tests of my life, and attempt to see the world through his eyes.