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    Sans Hands

           Riding a bike hands free with any proficiency remained a skill that eluded me until just recently. Actually, very recently. Like, yesterday.
           The inspiration to ride with no hands came from my then girlfriend a few summers ago. We were cruising down the bike path in Falmouth and she was in front of me, happily peddling along sans hans, looking very beautiful and free. I wanted in, but didn’t know how to do it. So I decided to try it on my own first, lest I take a digger and ruin what was shaping up to be a wonderful afternoon with the woman I loved.
           Over the course of the next few months, I would occasionally try to take my hands off the handlebars and pedal. I had some success. But It was intermittent and sporadic. I hadn’t mastered anything, just met occasional moderate success.
           There’s a reservoir next to my condo, circumnavigated by a path used by cyclists, joggers, and walkers alike. It’s unpaved, uneven, with lots of curves. The wind whips around the reservoir in unpredictable patterns. And there’s usually a fair amount of people on the path, going both ways, at any time of day.
           Being a beautiful sunny, seventy-five degree end of summer day and with my early afternoon free, I decided to do my cardio outside,. The last vestiges of a shirtless summer were fading fast. I wanted to take advantage of every moment of it.
           The path around the reservoir is flat, and I’m always looking to make the ride more challenging and cardio-rific. After a lap or two, I started riding without my hands. Slowly at first, and only on the straightways. As I gained confidence, I sped up and started taking corners with my hands off the wheel. When somebody was headed my way, I would grab the handlebars again, because I didn’t want to slip up, go careening into them, and create a major lawsuit. Soon, that was no longer a concern. By the last three or four laps around the mile and a half route, I was completely hands free, all the way around, grabbing the bars only a few times when I felt discretion was at that moment the better part of cycling valor.
           Riding sans hands proved a potent metaphor for what’s been happening to my life over the past few months.
           It’s inspiring to realize that I can manifest newness and change in my life, no matter what my history or my age. I firmly believe that we all have that ability. In fact, I hold that humans are like trees; we grow until the day we die. If not, we’re already dead.
           Bike riding without hands may seem like a silly example, but for me it hit home. My concept of what’s possible for me has expanded. I see opportunity where before I just saw a problem. I’m experiencing opening after opening, effectively creating space, both inside of myself and in my world around me, to manifest more of what I want. I’m slowly taking more and greater risks, especially in areas where I was previously most cautious. And, believe it or not, I’m even more expressive, putting myself “Out There”, in explosive fashion.
           Stripping away what isn’t me to get to what is me, and then taking what is me and gradually putting that pedal to the metal. At the same time, expanding that concept of “What Is Me” to include a wider range of behavior, responses, possibilities, and experiences. Expansion means getting bigger, and that’s what’s been happening for me. Except in my waistline. That’s actually gotten smaller. I wore a pair of pants the other day that I bought for a wedding in 1986. Fit like a charm. But I digress.
           My life has been and continues to be a most unconventional, unique path. The drummers I follow and the rhythms I dance to have always been my own. The danger in hearing those sounds that others do not is that I sometimes lose the beat or can’t hear the song. And I have a poor frame of reference when that happens, because what I hear seems so different and strange. At the same time, I can learn a lot from being with those who follow a more traditional route. They provide a stability and a grounding that I sometimes struggle with. As much as I am drawn to the fringe, I am drawn to the middle. I can integrate both to create a life that is mine and a life that I love. I guess that’s what I’m really working with now.
           And riding hands free is also a shitload of fun.

    ©2012 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and Positively Expansive Wrongs) Reserved.

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