I think everybody needs to do something to have fun. I like to ride a bicycle.
Part of the fun of cycling for me is the sensation of speedily and smoothly gliding over the surface of the road. Twelve miles an hour seems much faster when you are on a bicyle.
I also like the way my senses are opened by a bike ride. I can look at the clouds, smell the flowers or grasses, feel the humidity or cool breezes, and listen to the birds and other sounds.
I tend to go into a certain mental state induced by the rhythmic pedaling and breathing of a long ride. When I begin a ride, usually I will have too many problems on my mind. After several miles, the motion of pedaling tends to help me put my mind in neutral so that I can release my mental preoccupations and accept a state of mere being.
Even though I had an accident a year ago, and my injured left arm will never quite be the same again, I was eager to get back on my bicycle. Even though I had a delayed healing process and much discomfort, one of my main goals was to get well enough so that I could ride my bicycle again. The fall was a reminder to me that cycling can be very dangerous. In a fraction of a second, you can have a serious injury. That is why you should wear a helmet when you ride. If cycling did not mean so much to me, I imagine I would have put the bicycle away forever, but I intend to ride as long as I can.
I notice that there are a lot of articles in newspapers and magazines today about cycling. This is a reaction to high energy prices and ecological concerns. We'll see if our society will really embrace cycling as a normal aspect of transportation. The fact is that interest in cycling has peaked and plummeted several times over the last 110 years. Those of us who love cycling get our hopes up, only to see them dashed again. We would like to have areas in center cities where only service vehicles and bicycles would be allowed, bike lanes and paths, and secure bike parking at shopping places. We think cycling is healthy for us and for our environment. Maybe this will be the moment when people will integrate bicycles into their lifestyles, and communities will develop public policies to encourage cycling. I shall wait and see. I hope it happens if for no other reason than that people who cycle will be happier in their daily lives.
Perhaps I have burdened you with reading about a very trivial topic. Or, maybe it is really important for each of us to liberate ourselves from the physical and mental unhealthiness of the modern life of sitting in meetings and screens and taking ourselves so seriously.
In his famous book, Leisure, the Basis of Culture (St. Augustine's Press, 1988), Josef Pieper argued that taking some time for leisure is absoultely necessary for a truly human existence and culture. He said that leisure is necessary so that "the human being does not disappear into the parceled-out world of his limited work-a-day function, but instead remains capable of taking in the world as a whole." He added that lesiure is "the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion--in the real."
Unless we have some leisure, we shall not experience grace. So long as we remain preoccupied with our tasks, we have a tendency to think that we shall be able to fix all the problems or to accomplish whatever needs to be accomplished by our own will and powers. The whole Anglo-Saxon world operates on this atheistic assumption, and it rewards only those who obey its law. In leisure, we are able to renew our connection with our body-and-soul; and, through this creation of body-and-soul in the image of God, our conection to God.
Summer is the time of year when most of us get some time for leisure. We need to learn how to make leisure part of our normal weekly routine. I do hope that all of you will experience physical and spiritual renewal this summer.