Find Your Happy Place - It's More Than Just A Saying
Do you ever have people ask you a question about yourself that you just really don't have a great answer for? The are usually the kind of deep, soul searching questions that we don't often take the time to ponder. "Tell me about a time when you were really, really happy." Or "What is the ugliest thing in the world." Or "If you were a salad dressing, what kind of dressing would you be?" I'm often caught in these moments when friends try to be deeper than they are, but recently I was surprised when someone asked, "Can you remember the most peaceful place you've been in the last few years?" Without a doubt, I knew.
I love cycling. I'm not sure I'm what most people would call a cyclist, because I'm pushing the size of about two actual cyclists, but I love to get my gear on, throw some water and energy bars into my holders and pockets, clip in and ride for an hour, or many. I hate all other forms of exercise. I can't join a gym, I don't like running, lifting weights drives me crazy, but for some reason, I really took to being out on my road bike.
At first I was thrilled to come back and say I rode 5 miles. Then I tackled a 12 mile loop. Soon I ventured out for 20 miles and felt like I'd done something most people would never be able to say they did. 30, 40, 50, 60...then 70 miles! I found the healthy thing that I loved, and not only did it make me feel great, I was dropping weight and getting in the best shape of my adult life. 5 years later, and I still love cycling, and it is a part of my weekly routine.
Earlier this year, on a late summer day, I headed out on a normal 30 mile route, and pulled off by the Willamette River to have an quick snack and some water. I don't like to stop too long because I begin to cool off, so I'm usually back on the bike in 5 minutes or so..but something was different this day. Something about the way the river was moving, or the way the sun was heading over the water, or something about the air itself compelled me to sit a little longer than normal. Without even realizing what was happening, I ended up spending 30 minutes in that spot. Completely off my bike, both it and myself sitting on the ramp, quietly taking in the slow moving water.
Those 30 minutes turned to 45 and began to realize I was completely cooled off, and completely out of the mindset of the ride. Instead I was a visitor to nature. I might as well have been camping along the banks in an old tent with a pole in the water, fishing for supper. The typical urgency to get back on the road was gone, and I found myself completely thankful for an moment of complete peace and tranquility. Unplanned, but utterly amazing.
I didn't see all 30 miles that day, but instead turned back along the same route when I left the river and took my time on the way home. I was thankful for all that I had, and even for just the simple ability to push some steel, plastic and rubber down the road with my own two legs. That day, in that spot, along that river was the one clear, without a doubt, moment of peace that I can remember vividly without having to search my mind to recall it. I can't get there every day, and even when I do, it doesn't always have that same magical quality, but it is possible each and every day to find a moment of peace by thinking about such things that give us great joy, if even for only a few minutes. That is my challenge for us all, find your happy place each and every day.