Recently my husband and I took a fast trip to Abingdon, Virginia to kick around, enjoy some theatre, and ride a portion of the Virginia Creeper trail. We were supposed to go on our obligatory Halloween/Anniversary weekend ghost tour too, but that got sidelined for a long list of boring reasons.
Anyway, I was pretty pumped about the Creeper trail excursion. If you’ve read my book, you know about me and my love/hate/empowerment/discouragement relationship with riding a bike. My road bike, Flo, and I continue to have our adventures, although I haven’t done nearly as much riding as I’d like since OBSG was published. Since this particular picturesque rail-to-trail isn’t paved, Flo stayed home, and we arranged to rent bikes for the ride.
At said bike-renting spot, I was given a choice between a mountain bike and what the world-weary, appropriately unkempt proprietor described as a “comfort” bike.
Hmmm. Something in me perked up at the idea of a comfort bike. It sounded…smooth, easy, uncomplicated. Truth be told, I still, to this day, get the jitters when I ride in unfamiliar territory (and ok, yes, sometimes even when I’m in my own neighborhood). I can still manage to fall on a bike while completely stationary – or before I even hop on. This comfort idea was most intriguing. Why make things harder? Decision made.
He ushered me over to a plain, gray, somewhat unloved-looking bike known only as “S2”. She seemed like she could stand to make a new friend, and so as soon as we adjusted her large, super-padded seat, we were paired for the trip.
Comfort and I also have a complicated relationship. It seems like whenever I tell myself I can relax and take the easier route with something, nothing goes as planned. The year I opted to make reservations for Thanksgiving dinner instead of cooking, they started closing down the restaurant 10 minutes after we arrived (and there was no turkey left).
The horse I chose for my first-ever ride (“Don’t worry, hon, this is Brownie, the gentlest one of the bunch!”) decided that jumping every rock, ditch, and log we encountered would be a cool thing to do. By the time “gentle” ol’ Brownie and I got back to the barn, I felt like every bone in my body had been removed, tossed around in a burlap sack, and reassembled backward.
Then there was the time I was the 1 in 20,000 mother-to-be for whom an epidural did not work. Enough said there. The comfortable choice seems to be something I live to regret.
And so it was on this ride. S2, bless her little gray heart, was anything BUT comfy. The length of trail we rode was all downhill, but that gigantic padded seat was also a slippery padded seat. Like oil on ice slippery. I kept sliding forward and hitching myself back and pedaling just to be able to stay on. The handlebars and brakes appeared to be made for someone with Sasquatch-sized hands (I can barely reach an octave on the piano). It was next to impossible to get the gears shifted; the numbers so long faded from the mechanism that I had no clue what was higher or lower.
The trees were beautiful, the river gorgeous, and the weather perfect, but I was a sore, stressed-out mess by the end. Why oh why didn’t I go with a mountain bike (since we were, after all, riding down a freaking mountain)?
Comfort and ease are tempting states of being, aren’t they?
How often do I encounter someone who wants to take a seemingly more comfortable way with reaching their goals or managing their challenges?
- “I just need you to give me all of your time management tricks and tips, so I can quit being late to everything.”
- “Let’s skip that spot over there in the corner (i.e., the spot that used to resemble a desk) and sort these chess pieces. Or maybe just have a cup of tea?”
- “I’ll just bag all this stuff up for now, stash it in the closet, and deal with it later – we don’t need to waste time with it today.”
- “Look! I found this article on 10 Super Easy Ways to Get Organized! I don’t think we need to schedule any more sessions.”
You might be entranced with cutting corners to get something dealt with faster, avoid the discomfort of digging into the challenge, or make decisions. But in that process, you may be working with the wrong tool, overlooking an important step, or buying into someone else’s method – which may or may not fit your particular situation. Famous last words: “All I have to do is…”
It’s almost like a weird shade of procrastination – trading in the immediate comfort and relief for later distress and confusion. Or worse. That bag of stuff in the closet that seemed so easy to stash at the time will inevitably come back to bite you…like when you forget that your computer charger or the key to your storage unit happens to be in it.
So rather than being taken for a ride with promises of ease, what if you took a moment to consider a different way? Maybe, a way that seems like the rougher trip, the adventure you didn’t ask for, the road less traveled? Uncomfortable does not have to mean impossible. It often yields the stronger result.
When have you gone for what seemed like the most comfortable solution or choice? What happened?