Rejoining the real world after that 10 day session was interesting. I returned to Portland determined to incorporate meditation into my daily life. The first few days were great, I meditated when I got up and before sleeping, and felt pretty relaxed about it. Headed down to Eugene via bus to spend a few days with friends before adventuring out to the coast.
First thing on my to-do list was cut my hair. I have been considering doing this for about a year, and during my meditation retreat I realized that it’s just hair! Even if I end up hating it, it would still just be hair. So I went out and got some haircutting scissors and started snipping away. Since my hair was so long, I decided to try some different styles and see what I liked. It was kind of terrifying at first, but was really fun once I got over the fear!
One of the days in Eugene, at least six of us drove out to Mckenzie pass with all our bikes to climb ~2000 ft in 13 miles. We were all a bit hesitant because it had been rainy and cold all day and we set out a bit late in the day too. But we decided to head up anyway! We made sure to distribute enough warm things among us that we’d all be ok and set off!
Now I know you all think that since I’ve done so much biking that I’m this amazing cyclist now, but that’s not exactly how it works. I’ve been taking it super easy on myself, not going very far most days, plus I hadn’t actually ridden any distance or significant hills in several weeks so this ride was intimidating me a bit and part of me had hoped someone else would call it off. Instead I got myself ready and set off with the others.
For a while I was keeping up with the girls in the back, chatting a bit and keeping our minds off the light rain. They pulled ahead after a few miles and I was left to my own thoughts. When I ride alone, there are lots of things I think about; after learning Vipassana, I had even more (but sort of less) to think about. Instead of letting my mind wander aimlessly, I focused on what was around me. The beauty of the trees in the rain, the stress in my legs with each stroke, the different pressure points in my hands with different positioning on the handlebars, the random snow patches as I got high enough, the degree of cold/wet of different parts of my body. I was still aware that everyone was probably way ahead of me, but they had to come back the same way so if they passed me I’d just go back with them. This was about the journey after all, not the destination.
Finally, I reached a leveling off of sorts. There were lava beds all around me, it was so beautiful! A few minutes later, Desi came upon me; she was bringing me the car keys in case I had turned back early but was delighted I was only 10 minutes behind! We pushed the last couple of miles to the top together, made it! There was this little ruined castle looking building up there that looked out over the lava beds. Everyone else had cooled down since getting to the top so we didn’t stick around too much longer before heading down; but man was it beautiful.
Not surprisingly, the descent was a lot harder than the ascent. We had put all our layers on and went down in pairs, but with the numb extremities and wet road, control was difficult. Every couple of miles we would stop and dance around to get the feeling back in our feet and hands and then push on. After an hour or so of riding the brakes, we made it back to the bottom. Exhausted but exhilarated, we headed back home.
Spent the next couple of days hanging out with friends and getting ready for my ride out to the coast!