Like a bridge over troubled water

As I stopped to catch a photo of the cemetery another biker offered to take a picture of me. What the heck? Riverview Cemetery, Portland.

My alternative title for this blog was, “E-bike success story #2.” But then I thought, this is more than that. What it’s really about, is how much we all need a bridge – even if temporary – from the here that can feel so sad and awful and depressing. And for those who truly care about doing better (and, I’m an optimist and believe this means most of us!) as an individual, collectively as a people, as one as a planet – we must find things in our lives that buoy us. That boost us, if only for a moment, to know that things can get better.

The seed of this blog, though, did begin with my not-yet four week old e-bike. (And yes, I am privileged to be able to afford one, to be able to ride one, and perceive its benefits). It all began with an after-work meeting downtown to say “good-bye” to a colleague. That in itself made me so, so sad. I had noted the time when darkness fell yesterday. Had I still relied on my regular road bike, I probably would have decided to take the bus to work. (I avoid biking by dark, for I am a safety and health professional.) Instead, I had realized the new option offered by my e-bike: faster trip, no complaining about uphill parts or a longer ride home later in the evening after a full day.

At our “farewell,” four of us talked about what gains have been made institutionally, and how much lies ahead. It is, after all, the people we love who boost us when we most need it. And then, it was time to unlock my bike and head home. I experienced the joy of riding a route I don’t ride on a normal workday, along the Willamette River Westside Corridor, joining others strolling alone and with companions: children, young and old. All finding this moment to escape, and recharge for the work, challenges and joys ahead. I laughed out loud as I pedaled along the River, imagining suddenly what Dad might say about this new bike. (“Getting soft, Gum Drop?” For after all, it is rare when the Willamette doesn’t spark a memory of him in me). Shortly after, I effortlessly climbed the hill, winding through Riverview Cemetery (holding gravestones of my grandparents), imagining the energetic greeting my grandmother would share if she could. Coasting carefully down the trail at the base of Tryon Creek Park, a couple apologized for their exhuberant dogs. I quickly replied, “Oh, if only I had some of that!” but silently corrected myself as I realized how full of energy and spark I felt, even though it had been 12 hours since I’d left home.

And while I will always remember it to be the name of the first “album” I ever purchased, “bridge over troubled water” seemed most apropos for tonight’s journey. May we all be so lucky to find those moments, whether solo or collective, to recharge us to do those things we are meant to do.

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