I don’t know where it came from, or why I had it, but I did know that I had commitments that would not be sympathetic to my morning misery, so I got up, showered, got dressed and got busy. I almost never take pills (I hate the idea…another story, another time) but did manage to swallow a couple of Tylenol. The love of my life and truest happiness, the bed cover stealing blanket burrito, keeps some on hand. Pretty soon I was off and on my way to work. The headache substantially subsided for most of the morning hours but by 1pm or so it was back. I went home, sat in my office chair, and tried hard to just be still.
In the back of my mind a nagging sensation began to work its way forward, much like a child relentlessly tugging at his mother’s skirt in search of attention. “Get on your bike and ride” was all I could think about. I wanted to ride but did not feel up to it. My legs ached for that familiar reward that only cycling can give to a pair of legs. I wanted to go to yoga, which was still about an hour way and was considering, at the very least, that possibility when the sensation to ride became more intense.
In my life I have learned to trust my “spidey senses.” When I get a strong feeling about something, and ignore it, I usually end up in regret. While I'm not partial to superstition or unscientific claims of mental acuity, I have learned that “intuition,” if focused through the lens of experience has definitely served its purpose. Almost automatically, I stood up and began to get dressed in my cycling clothes. I have a yoga mat in a bag that slings over my shoulder so that I can ride to yoga class, and so after taking the bike off the hook I slowly, and rather gingerly walked out our long gravel drive to the road, saddled up, clipped in and pedaled off.
It’s funny, you know, how just a simple decision to surrender to our own need for exercise can have such an immediate impact on ones state of wellbeing. I found myself pedaling in the wrong direction, heading north instead of south, deciding to take a longer, round-about way to yoga class. In just a few short miles, maybe five or six, I had forgotten about the headache. I felt strong and fast and was surprised to see my average speed up a little above normal. I pedaled with a sense of real fluidity and breathed quietly and calmly.
Just after the halfway point I turned south toward Turlock, California and my yoga class. Geer Road is a busy, two lane, country highway and supports quite a lot of trucking. There is plenty of shoulder room and it’s really a pretty good spot to ride fast. Not too long afterward I happened to look directly ahead and spotted a fork in the road. Not a split or change in direction, but an actual fork, like you would stick into a carrot… kind of fork. As I spun past it I (of course) was reminded of Yogi Berra’s famous nonsensical quote, “When you get to a fork in the road...take it!” I laughed to myself and momentarily pondered the idea that I should have stopped and picked up the fork and taken it with me, just to follow, Yogi’s advice. A few more revolutions down Geer Road and again I considered going back and getting the fork. On other trips, I have found money, a gold necklace, a shamrock, car keys and other things but had yet to pick up any table utensils. Out loud I said, “Screw it!” slowed down, turned around and headed back to the fork in the road. The sense that one must turn back is familiar to me. It’s a bit obsessive, probably, but so what! It’s a little like, no its exactly like the feeling you get when you drive away from your house and it occurs to you that you have left the lights on, or the garage door up, and it eats at you as you get further and further away until you curse aloud, flip a U-turn and go back, if for any reason, just to stop the badgering voices in your head from sounding off……no?...I’m the only one…..?
I felt good, and I felt happy. The headache was gone, I was a little sweaty (gross I know) and the other aches and pains I had been feeling had disappeared. At the road side, out of the way of traffic, I unclipped and stopped as I got my first close-up look at the flattened scarred and essentially mangled bit of highway wonderfulness. It occurred to me as I bent over to scavenge my newest treasure, not only had I found the proverbial “fork in the road,” but had actually turned a corner in my own life. It used to be that cycling hurt like hell. It used to be that riding my bicycle caused serious discomfort and pain, both during and afterward. While cycling will forever present major physical hurdles and body aches, the likes of which I have yet to discover, it will never be the same kind or type of pain that it once was. Cycling many miles has become a relief and a release from what might be going on with the current version of me. Yoga too, as outrageously challenging as it is, has provided me with instruction and real life applications to apply to my physical and mental self. The rest of today has been headache free. On my ride home, after yoga, I again began to think about the fork I had found in the road. It’s just junk, really, and I will through it away, but what it came to represent this afternoon for me is not. Change has come for me in the last 8-9 months because of a real change in my decision process, and in the ultimate direction my physical health was taking. Tonight, I had the opportunity to listen to a friend of mine give a presentation on food and what we eat. She gave a lot of great information about clean eating, but the one thing she said has also stuck in my brain today. She said, “eat what’s made on a plant, not in a plant.” I like that one. It’s cute and catchy and will serve as a great ‘signpost’ the next time I come to a “fork in the road” and need to make a decision for my health.
I'm glad I listened to my “spidey senses” today. I feel relieved that I did not surrender to the headache and go to bed, which was my original intention when I arrived at home earlier in the day. It would have been easy to do, and in past circumstances it’s the choice I would have made. I'm pleased that I had such a great ride, and a meaningful yoga practice. I'm grateful that I chose, when it actually came time to choose, that when I found that beat-up, run-over, fork in the road, I took it.