The world of time mattered not

470591_10150741641279703_266408929_oThis morning the dogs and I headed out when it was barely light, and it felt like an adventure to be out in the cold, invigorating wind. The book Nature’s Ways asks what time of day you most resonate with. For me, without a doubt it is the crack of dawn. That’s when you feel like you have your feet in both worlds—light and dark, visible and invisible. That’s when you can move as if propelled by some force outside yourself and you feel like you can walk forever. That’s when there are the least cars on the road, when the valley is silent, and you can reconnect with the amazing ancient feeling of standing upright. That’s when you can remember the eons before electricity when we rose at first light.
Yesterday while I was riding my bicycle from the river bottom to Mira Monte, the bike suddenly locked up while I was pedaling uphill. The wheels turned, the chain looked fine, but something, maybe the gear mechanism, was stuck. First I felt frustrated. I gently kicked the back tire (thinking maybe it was hitting metal), and then with a great deal of effort I squeezed the handlebars and changed the gears. I sped full blast downhill, and the brakes worked fine, but once on level ground my bike rebelled and jolted to a halt. I’d smooth out the gears, glide along for a block or so, and then—again—jolt, jolt, and stop. This became especially problematic and somewhat embarrassing in intersections, when I’d have to jump off the bike midway, causing waiting drivers to have to idle their cars for a few more seconds.
It was almost noon, the warm sun felt fabulous, and really the only problem was that now I was running late. So I called my student to let her know the situation. “No problem,” she said. And then I began to enjoy the walk. I felt carefree without the usual dogs on a leash, my bike is light, and we ran/walked together uphill at a nice relaxing, non-exhausting pace.
I want to share here that my student is facing great uncertainty.  Her health challenges are forcing her to face her own mortality. Any one of us could die today, tomorrow, or a year from now; that is a fact. After my student’s lesson, as I rode my bike downhill and walked uphill, adding an extra hour to my travel time, the world of time mattered not. I felt so enormously grateful for my health. For my energy and ability to walk and walk. The mountains of Ojai never looked more beautiful. As I walked, that Bible psalm about walking in the valley of the shadow of death came into my consciousness. How important it is to make friends with death, and to feel death walking with us. That awareness can help us step ever deeper into the mystery of life.

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