Moments of Solitude

I’ve noticed something unusual about my morning commute. My morning routine usually goes something like this: wake up, use the bathroom, read the Bible, check my email, the New York Times app, and Facebook, eat breakfast while still checking my phone, get dressed, wash up, then go back to checking my phone. When 9:05 AM rolls around, I’m still a little fuzzy. My father has gone off to work by now, and my sisters are already in their first period classes. My mom is usually out running errands or taking a walk around the neighborhood.

Getting out of the house is an exercise in laziness. How can I use the least amount of energy? I check the locks on the doors, slip on my sneakers, and make my way over to the garage. Garage door up. Bike helmet goes on. Kickstand up. Garage door down. Check both ways before crossing the street.

As I roll down the driveway, the anxieties and problems from last night still occupy my mind. Unlike some people, I usually wake up to the same thoughts that were in my head when I fell asleep. When I’m trying to be quiet and rest, these worries act as a stimulant, keeping me up as a lay in my bed. Now, however, they most definitely serve as a depressant. I try to push them behind me.

Left turn. Now that I’ve started to move, things are getting better. I’m working out the kinks and aches from last night’s sleep, but I’m also feeling the sore muscles and tight joints from the previous workday. My head is down while I try to overcome the inertia of my bike. I rarely shift down gears. It’s too much work to shift down when I’m going to shift back up in a couple of minutes.

Head up. I get into a nice rhythm where the bike is going fast enough to maintain a good velocity. The park to the right has a big field of grass where, before school started, kids played soccer and scampered around the playground. Deep breathe in. The air is cool.

Above my helmeted head, tree branches stretch out to create a green canopy that casts dappled shadows on the bike path in front of me. The last vestiges of sleep fall off as I notice the detail of the bark on the tree trunks, and with them go the worries of yesterday.  I can see the gaps in the pressed asphalt under my wheels, I can feel the texture of the grips on my bike handles, the wind rushing past.

Suddenly, I’m by myself and I’m happy. Maybe joyful is a better word. Whether it’s the exercise endorphins kicking in or the clean air of a summer morning, I’m happy that I have another day in the world ahead of me. So I pedal on.

These moments of solitude have an element of serendipity. Even now, after writing down my experiences, I find myself searching for a way to recreate that sensation, to gain the feeling I had which inevitably declined with the progression of the day and its multiple inconveniences and problems to address. I won’t be able to ride my bike down that street without considering what I’ve put down in words, and those thoughts crowd out the possibility of encountering anything remotely similar to what I’ve described. But I’m glad I’ve written this down because I know that, in a more general sense, these moments happen. These moments when the world surprises you with some strange beauty, and you catch yourself grinning like a idiot.


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