back on the bike

This week I decided to try cycling to work again. I hadn’t cycled to work (or anywhere) in a really long time — maybe the start of the year, or toward the end of last year — and I thought it was about time I tried again.

Of course, that’s not to say I cycled every day this week. I only cycled on Wednesday, when I thought the workload would be manageable enough that I wouldn’t be left too exhausted to cycle home. Fortunately, the weather was also quite mild that day, so it seemed like the best opportunity.

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passing gratitude

Along some of the streets in my neighbourhood, the footpaths are bordered by grass on either side.* Sometimes this grass gets a bit overgrown, and, at some parts, there isn’t enough space for two people to comfortably walk past each other without someone walking on the grass a little (especially if everyone is carrying bags of groceries, shopping or other items).

Often, without really thinking about it, I step onto the grass to allow the other person passage along the footpath. I’m usually wearing sneakers, and I guess I move pretty quickly, so I suppose it’s not a big deal for me to walk on the grass, and I probably just step aside faster than the other person (not much point in us both stepping aside onto the grass). Continue reading

potatoes, cold mornings and bridges

We’re approaching the final stretch of my month of haiku now, and I’m feeling like I could actually continue this beyond July. Imagine how many haiku I could write in all the life ahead of me?

What I’ve started to worry about, however, is that I’m going to repeat certain themes, lines or phrases from one haiku to another. I actually pondered this back on July 11th, and wrote this piece:

How many haiku,
Already written, and still…
Many more waiting

Is it possible to exhaust all possible compositions of these three-line poems? With such finite syllables, surely you could only do so much? Continue reading

and the haiku-writing continues…

Looks like July has become the month of haiku-writing for me. I’m really enjoying this, and it really makes me smile to be able to look back on the haikus and the little memories they contain. I’ve tried the 100 Happy Days Challenge before, and I’ve kept daily gratitude journals before, but I think those things always focussed on the obvious joys (e.g. went to a concert, hung out with a friend, had dinner at this place, watched a movie, had a sleep in, etc)

And some days I had to search for little things to be happy/grateful about, but I also feel like it got repetitive after a while too.

It’s only two weeks into this daily haiku thing, so maybe it’s a bit too early to judge, but it feels like this challenge is making me look outside myself more, to seek wonder more so than happiness. I’m sure there’s a scientific paper somewhere that says wonder is an important feeling/sensation that all people should try to experience as much as possible.

But I think the other thing that sets this apart from other gratitude projects, is that instead of just taking and captioning a photo, or simply recalling every good thing that happened that day — instead of these relatively quick processes, haiku requires you to take inspiration, and then mould that to fit your finite syllables. In this process, you might have to shuffle words around, find alternative ways of describing something, and really focus on the most important aspects that you want to convey.

In short, there’s a lot involved! But it’s still pretty simple, and I maintain that anyone with a basic grasp of language can do it. Continue reading

last minute, next minute

In the last week-end of May, I flew down to Canberra to visit a friend. I called her on the Thursday afternoon to check if the guest room was set up yet (they’d moved over a month prior, but I knew they’d been pretty busy). Having confirmed everything was ok, I booked my flights that night. About 14 hours after that, I was on the plane.

Last week, on a bit of a whim, I decided to go to the Rudimental concert. Ok, there was a fair bit of deliberation about this, but only for a few days, and right up until I bought the ticket, I was still equivocal about the whole thing. I left work on Monday, half-convinced that I shouldn’t go, but by bedtime, I was 100% committed to going. Continue reading

sunscreen and sweat

A typical week-end for me involves at least one bike ride or one run. I tend to exercise mid to late afternoon, getting into early evening because it means that I don’t have to get up early, and it’s not too hot. Of course, the sun’s still up, which means the sunscreen goes on. Sunscreen is the smell of the week-end.

I checked the weather forecast on Saturday morning, and found that temperatures were going to reach the mid-30s (Celsius) with high humidity (not that I really needed a weather forecast to tell me that – it was already frickin’ hot in the morning). However, the forecast also predicted storms for Sunday, so I knew I had to ride/run that day.

I don’t often go to Westside, but I’ve tagged along with a friend on a few drives along the Western Freeway / Centenary Motorway recently, and noticed there was a bike path that ran alongside it. I finally decided to Google Map it the other night, so on Saturday I was ready and rearing to go. It had also been a long time since my last “epic bike ride” outside of my neighbourhood and surrounding suburbs, so I was doubly keen. No high humidity or scorching sun was going to stop me!

It always feels great being on a bike going somewhere. Nothing but the sound the wind rushing past and the smell of sunscreen. Before I’d even gotten onto Legacy Way (which is what the bike path was called, according to a sign), I was covered in sweat. As I rode along, I could feel the sweat dripping off me, could taste the saltiness as it trickled past my lips, and could see the shine it created all over my arms. I was feeling kind of Zen at this stage.

Anyway, Legacy Way was pretty good, as far as bike paths go. Would have liked more shade from the setting sun, but you can’t have everything. Also, only had to cross a few roads, which is always a plus. I must say, though, that it seemed to be more downhill than up going outbound, so I found myself worrying about the return trip more and more as I went along.

In the end, I made it out to Jamboree Heights before deciding to turn back. With the power of Google Maps, I estimate the total journey to have been about 42km over approximately 3 hours. Admittedly, on the way back, there were a couple of gradients I couldn’t quite conquer and had to walk my bike up, but I somehow pushed through the pain on all the other ones (seriously, my legs have never been in so much pain from cycling). Also, by the time I got back to the City / South Bank area, I knew it would not be worth the struggle to ride all the way home, so I caught a train for part of the way. (And in case you’re wondering, the 42km estimate excludes the train ride.)

When I went to bed that night, I figured that Sunday would be a rest day. But by the time Sunday afternoon came around, I was itching to get outside. Sure, it was about 35 degrees and humid like no tomorrow, but the skies were clear and there was no sign of those storm clouds we were supposed to have. Plus, surprisingly, my legs weren’t sore. They were a bit sore in the morning but I stretched a bit, and by 5pm I’d made up my mind to run.

Still mindful of the heat, though, I decided I’d do high intensity, short duration, so that I wouldn’t be sweating away for too long. So after about 40 minutes of jogging, burpees, sprints and random other things, I was done.

What a satisfying week-end. I’m glad I didn’t get discouraged by the heat, and managed to pull myself away from the comfort of the air conditioner. And I’ve realised again that I never regret going for a run or bike ride. It’s just always the right decision.