y Grande Loop (for my bicycle) is to ride to the Sunrail station and roll north to Longwood. From there, it’s a bike-mile to the Seminole Trail. I can shoot east to Oviedo, catch the Cady Way Trail which brings me back home at just a shade under 30 miles. It’s possibly my favorite local ride.
I don’t ride with music and I certainly don’t answer my phone (making me somewhat of a minority on the trail). Old people riding their trikes with angry talk radio spewing. Joggers with earbuds focused on their motivational podcasts. People chatting on phones or texting.
Frankly (my viewpoint only) the whole purpose of this cruise through nature is to put your mind in that still place, to feel the wind and sun, to let the thoughts wander (while still keeping some sort of situational awareness). Sometimes when I ride I get angry, drafting letters to the editor I’ll never write. Sometimes I see beauty. Sometimes I see rubbish and litter. Sometimes I study the people I pass (particularly watchful of the e-Zombies who might stumble into my path at any moment). But usually I just muse.
See, this is time I use to just let my mind off my leash, to see where it will go. Every so often, I’ll find an idea for a new game or short story. Or a blog piece (like this one). Or something I can use on any of the model train layouts I operate on.
The other day, I thought about my novel Early ReTyrement and how I set it in the GE database lab I worked at over thirty years ago. I let my mind mill up images of that place, of the dingy shantytown situation we contractors were in, the politics of the full-timers, the things we modeled and jokes we played. I was pretty chatty back then and can remember holding a court of sorts of hypothetical questions while we all worked out crazy shifts in the general contractor bullpen.
Suddenly I remembered a friend of mine I hadn’t thought of for years, a person I used to grab ice cream with at a nearby strip-mall (I recall us always shortcutting through the back door). It was strange and wonderful that suddenly this person’s memory rose out of the dust of time. What was her name? Oh yeah, it was… yeah, I remembered it now.
On a whim I searched her out on Facebook and got an immediate ping back. I’d known her when she was dating but now she had her boyfriend’s last name. Messaged her and got a nice response. We’ve been chatting back and forth about things that happened over the last three decades. Stunned to find out she’d got three kids (the oldest in their mid-twenties). Just happy to hear she’s whole and happy.
But that’s the thing. If I’d been listening to angry radio or playing candy crush or distracting myself in any number of trivial ways, if I’d not been letting my mind wander where it would (with its tongue hanging out), I’d have not have unearthed this treasure from the past. That’s why it’s important to take time to reflect on your life, to put things in perspective. Otherwise, you’ll just be a consumer all your life, sucking in bullshit and not rediscovering the magic of your past or the potential of your future.
Switch off and tune in! Be your thoughts!