"Why Am I Soft In The Middle, When The Rest of My Life Is So Hard?"

Here is a stunningly embarrassing example of how I am not "all that"

Nursing this bum knee, and juggling all the insanity of The Boy's medical stuff, I have gone lazy and slack. There may be those out there who can hold to multiple commitments and obligations simultaneously, honoring each with their unwavering time and attention and letting nothing slip through the cracks. I am not among their ranks.
I get distracted. I can be nearly brilliant at just about anything, as long as thats all I am doing. But life intrudes: I get a handle on the Mom Thing, only to find I have dropped the ball on my own education; I get going with a plan for eating local, and loose my living room to a flood of clutter; I fine-tune the bike commute routine, only to blow out my knee.

I have been letting myself off easy on the cycling while I trying to mend my knee, and in the mean time a million other demands began tugging at my sleeves like needy children, including my own needy Boy. It is only in the past few weeks that I have begun to have faith that my knee might really be getting better, and it is still not 100%. So, I was not a great candidate for a chaleenging ride in the boonies.

It was an accident

Originally, the ride had been proposed by a member of my soup-swap group, who had the delightful idea of a pedal-powered berry picking trip to Sauvie's island, I could have gotten myself and my bike onto the island via the bus, leaving a leasurly and flat ride of fewer than half a dozen miles total, on flat familiar terrain.
That was a beautiful plan.

The plan evolved over time, under influences I still don't grock, shifting to a proposal for a ride leaving from a different point and heading a completely different trajectory, through uncharted territory. But still with the option of a mass transit assist for the first leg and still involving berry picking. Frankly, there were reasons to bail at this point: I had dropped the ball on finding child care, knew that The Boy wasn't keen to come along, and I had a million other things to do. But I REALLY wanted those blueberries. And I really wanted a break form my myriad obligations. I kinda wanted to run away, with or without my kid. Half a dozen miles was do-able . . .

The morning of the ride was like Murphy's Law run a muck. I cant even begin to tell you. The dryer had failed to sufficiently dry our clothes, so we were not ideally dressed for the freakishly hot weather; the bike-with-Trail-A-Bike I had intended for us to ride had technical difficulties, so at the very last minute we had to switch to the Xtracycle, the heaviest bike I own and one The Boy can not help pedal. It went on like that. All morning. A real argument could have been made for bagging it and staying home. A very good argument. I wasn't really thinking straight, I had a bit of a crush on one of the riders.

Of course, it might have helped if I had ingested even one carbohydrate before the ride. Instead, all I had was coffee ~talk about running on empty! I forgot that old credo of "be prepared", even more important for cyclists than scouts!
But then, when I left the house, I thought I was going to ride a mile or two to a U-pick farm where there would be plenty of fresh ripe goodies to nosh on.
Thats not what happened.

I did allow The Boy to get packaged snacks to take on the road (don't bother writing in about the environmental impact of packaging or how it is inconsistent to shun the petrol in cars but purchase it in packaging. I know. I know. I am failible, like the rest of the human race)

Unbeknownst to me, the destination had changed, again, and somehow, I got hoodwinked into a much, MUCH tougher ride than I had signed up for. I don't quite remember how. I think it had something to do with wanting to avoid embarrassment, an effort that failed spectacularly.

Along the way:
there was a flat tire.
there were many unspeakably steep grades and miles of bad road.
the tires on the bike I was riding went out from under me on a stretch of gravel
an empty bottle was tossed at me from a passing truck
I ended up walking the bike part of the way

It was so #@%*ing humiliating

Also, there were no blueberries, at any point; no berry picking of any kind at all.

On up side, I did buy the sweetest peaches I have ever tasted in my life and a flat of succulent raspberries from a road side stand, and met a farmer who turned out to be one of the kindest souls I have ever met. He even brought us bottled water from his house and refused any payment for it.

My knee seems to have survived the mad adventure with no ill effects, and I cant remember the last time I was so proud of my son, who also survived. We both got to face down an inexplicable adventure, and never once lost our cool with each other. Despite getting up close and personal with just how outta shape I am, I did manage to I secured fresh, local produce, purchased directly from the farmer, and ferried it home on the back of my bike -zero food miles!

So, if you were thinking that I have the "it" on this whole cycling/sustainable living/right livelihood thing: oh, honey ~so not true. I fall painfully short, in so many ways. But heres the thing: it is not about perfection, it is not about getting it right every time; it is about making an effort, and making the commitment to begin where we are, and do our best in the circumstances we find ourselves in. We begin here. It begins with you and me, in all our imperfections.