Bike Ride at Sunset

I spent the day sleeping and reading, in turns, so at 8 p.m. I decided to get outside for a little while on this gorgeous July day.

The natural choice was a bike ride around the lakes at sunset. As I rode the various paths, a thought came to me: I wasn’t as interested in the path ahead of me as I was in the pleasant scenery around me.

The thought in that instance led to a reflection about life as a whole.

In life as a whole, I often stare too strictly at the path ahead of me, missing out on a lot of the beauty that surrounds me: the setting sun, the ever-shifting light cast over water and trees, the art of large houses and landscapes, beautiful people of all ages moving about, the scent and texture of the evening air, my own body and breath in time and space, airplanes traveling through the sky, the music of everyday reality — all things worth enjoying as I make my way forward in life.

Despite the pleasurable elements of current reality, I often project heavily into the abstract future as a way of escaping stressful aspects of the present. This hyper focus on the future, though, hasn’t much to grab hold of; it can only grasp at what the next thing may look like. In these cases, the future is not only a futile thing to direct attention at, but it also causes anxiety.

Whereas, on tonight’s bike ride, the path ahead was very distinct and pre-paved for me. Things fell easily in line, especially since I moved forward at a manageable speed. I needed only to glance at the path here and there to make sure I didn’t wander off the path, hit an uncomfortable bump, or run into something.

It’s true what they say, that the present is the most important tense. The past and future can be enjoyable fictions, but this very moment of your life is real, and there’s all kinds of magic about it.

This week, I found magic in a few particulars: one was tonight’s pleasant bike ride in the perfect weather. Another was being able to hug four young children, ages 2, 7, 9, and 11, and to witness their physical beauty, their open souls, their happy vibrations.

Another was the flute I heard outside my apartment windows this afternoon. Someone nearby was practicing, sending soft sounds out their open window. Lying there in my bed, reading by afternoon light, the flute, playing nothing in particular, going nowhere in particular, sent out sweet and peaceful melodies, and I was transfixed in the moment.

Nothing planned, nothing projected into the future, could have ever accounted for that half hour of fluted peace. As such, enchantment abounds, right here and right now, before your very eyes (and ears), if you can slow down a little bit, tear your gaze from the dutiful path ahead, and turn it instead upon the technicolor visions all around you.

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