10 January 2011

91: Lesson #1 - Exuberance and Endurance

As part of my goals for riding the VIA bus to work, I mentioned that I wanted to learn 91 lessons.

Before I even started the daily commute, I have learned two lessons. We'll tackle lesson #1 here.

Lesson #1: Exuberance and Endurance Are Very Different

On the first day after I had my bicycle all fixed up and ready, I took it out for a little spin. I rode a total of 2.9 miles and really enjoyed myself. It had, after all, been a long time since the last time I rode a bicycle and the experience was plainly awesome.

I zoomed around corners and pushed myself up hills. I felt the wind and the freedom and generally remembered deep joys.

On the second day after I had my bicycle all fixed up and ready, I took it out for a little spin. I rode a total of 2.1 miles. I felt burning in my lung and tightness in my hamstrings. I struggled up hills and cursed the wind that slowed down my progress.

It occurred to me that on day one I was simply exuberant. The newness of the experience overwhelmed my flesh and allowed me to coast effortlessly. It was the newness that made it easy, allowed my brain to bypass the normal hurdles and drip euphoric chemicals onto my brain.

Day two was different. No longer new, and facing the tightness that comes with a workout after a long period of inaction, the ride was a bit more painful. Becoming familiar on the bicycle, I began to notice all of the things that slowed me down, from urban intersections to bad roads and heavy north winds.

Life is like that, isn't it? Everything is new and exciting for a while. We call it the "honeymoon period", when newness blinds us to the complexity of what we've entered. As many will attest, a marriage (or any long-term endeavor) is not won or completed in the early days' exuberance, but in the endurance that comes with facing obstacles and persevering. The couple celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary does not point back to a successful honeymoon, but rather a long winding road of trial and error and grace and diligence.

Exuberance is nice. Endurance might just be far more valuable.

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