There happened to be a counselor with me. This counselor knows not to counsel family unless invited. We are married, so she only counsels if i ask for help. Today, I asked for help and I got it. It is so great to be married to a skilled and compassionate counselor!
We didn’t waste time on my backstory since she knows all that. I filled her on the precipitating event–yesterday’s attempted right hook. I’ll share it with you, too, in case the shorthand is new to you.
It wasn’t anything special. It happens almost as often as I pedal on the right while traveling through an intersection. Move left into the middle of the lane while traveling through an intersection and a right turning vehicle has to wait behind you. Stay right, though, and cars often pass just before the intersection and then turn right just in front of you. If you’re lucky, you brake. This time I stayed right, a car turned right in front of me and I hit the brakes to avoid getting hit. No time to be scared, but after the fact I hollered “HEY!” then “WHAT THE HELL!” Didn’t want to yell, but my lizard brain takes over in times of stress.
I know to take the lane. I know to give it back. But the decision has to be made dozens of times each ride and I don’t always get it right. I don’t want to get in the way any more often than need be, so I stay right too much. It is only after a close call that I know that just then I should have moved left. Asserted my rights. Advocated for my personal safety. So that’s one thing. Something I’ve long known but recently neglected. This isn’t what Lacey helped me see.
Lacey helped me see that I was stuck in a pattern and that only I could change the pattern. Of course I tried to protect the status quo. Protect my ego. I have come a long way toward forgiving amateur motorists for their ignorance and willful breaking of the law, for their putting my life at risk, but I haven’t been able to forgive professional drivers. This is one area where I am stuck. Harder to forgive bus drivers. Busses are big and loud and have stout mirrors projecting on the right. Scary when they pass a lane away and really scary when they pass close. The heat and the noise, the disparate speed (when they are exceeding the posted limit of 30 and I am going 15), and the visions I get of all the cyclists who have lost their lives under bus tires. Too much! And bus drivers are professionals. They are supposed to know better and do better than civilian drivers. If they don’t, they should be retrained. If the retraining doesn’t take, if they don’t start following the law, they should be let go.
I don’t get the sense this happens at the CDTA and I’ve spent too much time trying to get the CDTA to change. It is time to drop my effort to get the CDTA to do a better job educating their drivers. That won’t come easy. Contacting the CDTA was the only way I could maintain hope that things will get better. If the pros are hopeless, all are hopeless. Without hope, I am left with fear. My best friend, like the song says, but sometimes we need a break from even our bestest friends.
If hope and fear are out, what remains? Since I can’t get motorists to soften up, to be kinder and safer, it is time for me to toughen up. I have to steel myself against vehicular insults. I will work to have no reaction whatsoever. Control the lizard brain. No shouts arising out of fear. Resist contacting the CDTA when their drivers snuggle. Just pedal. Hard work, sure, but I need to do it.
Lacey and I talked about how I carry with me all of these close calls. I said I don’t get mad and I don’t, but I don’t forget them. Each time I throw a leg over, I think of the event that happened the day before. It is a lot to carry around! I wonder if pedalers can develop a kind of accumulated PTSD–lots of close calls on a daily basis. Can’t be good.
I confided in Lacey that I’ve recently considered stopping biking. I’ve biked on public roads for nearly forty years, but I don’t remember getting scared by cars until I was older. More or less in the year 2002. That year I had restarted biking for transportation on a regular basis. The protective cloak of immortality that only the young enjoy was gone. When people threatened me with their cars, I felt it. For years I hollered at them. I’d chase them down and holler at them like a madman. Glad to have stopped that, but now the CDTA busses are stuck in my craw. So I am still collecting bad events in my memory sack. It is all too much to carry.
Time to let it all go. Biking is my life. My identity. What am I if not a pedaler? It is the only regular exercise I get. I need it. I can’t let them take pedaling. Time to get tough and pedal slow. Wish me luck.
Frida is an inspiration. Walking more than a mile every day. She is enjoying a much needed break from physical problems. How did we get so lucky?
I am cooking so much but trying to eat less. This works by making 1/2 and 1/4 recipes (unless the result can be frozen).
Then there is my nut cheese obsession. I need to let this go, too. I don’t really care about cheese, but it bugs me that the one thing omnis use as an excuse to continue with the killing–cheese–is getting so much better in the vegan world yet shelves in local stores continue to carry only the old weird stuff. Time to make room for the newer yummier stuff. So I write to ask them to consider carrying the newer yummier stuff. I get no reply. Here’s the lesson. If a retailer doesn’t want to sell the hottest new thing, they won’t. Never mind what one vocal (and dozens of silent) customers want. Never mind that they could attract new customers who regularly pay premiums for things made without death in the ingredient list. Ragonese Italian Imports has started selling vegan stuff without my asking. Maybe that’s it–I should cool it with the lobbying so they can forget my suggestions and feel like they arrived at the decision on their own. Patience. I have so much for some things and so little for others. Deep breath. I look forward to local stores making the discovery.