Last weekend I took a mini cycling tour of Washington’s Vashon Island. The first word that comes to mind when I think of this amazing island is “hills”. In 15 miles, we climbed 1500 feet and our elevation profile looked like an EKG reading of someone with tachycardia. The island was SO beautiful. Cycling there was an absolute dream- but there were still hills to deal with. My thighs were screaming. My lungs burning. Eric was riding ahead and it took all I had, at times, to keep pedaling. On the largest and longest hill, something finally had to give. I thought of my good friend Steve’s advice for cycling in the mountains (he once biked from Colorado to Oregon!) He told me the key to getting to the top of the hill is to not look toward the top of the hill. Right then, it hit me. Not only did I need to not look too far in ahead.. I needed to not look too far ahead. I needed to be present with what I was doing and find ways to enjoy the climb rather than look ahead to what was in the future. I needed to focus on the beauty that was all around me. At that point I began to take notice.
The way the last of the evening light glimmered through the trees leaves
The thousands of ferns lining the road
Moss-covered hollowed out logs
Mushrooms, mushrooms everywhere
The last remaining, dried out blackberries hanging from the bramble
The striking gold foliage
The heavy scent of evergreen mixed with smells of the salty sea.
Then, suddenly, I was at the top. “Be Here Now” is one of my favorite phrases to repeat to myself and it couldn’t have been more applicable than it was on this ride. By not looking squinting toward the top of the hill, i relaxed my shoulders, took a deep breathe and FELT the beauty that surrounded me. Ahhhhh.