My first night in Lake Atitlan in Guatemala last summer I met two wonderful girls. The first night I was walking with C. As we rounded corners and quickened our pace to match our conversation pace, she started telling me about a “healer” whom with she had an incredible connection (more like mentor, mentee) and who had helped her and her friend with some sticky issues that they had both been battling.
So, I went to see him. And helpful he was. Once back in Mexico I kept in touch with him occasionally. I went through a particularly eye-opening, weird, vulnerable experience, some might call it falling in love, in which he helped me see the gift of opening yourself up to someone regardless of what happens in the end.
This so-called “falling-in-love” experience has made my emotions a bit volatile and has sent me into a bit of hibernation mode. The thing about being abroad is that at first everything is amazing and so exotic. Then things settle in. This isn’t bad! You find a slow cooker and curry…and you realize you have friends. A routine. And then you run into yourself. Again.
Towards the end of last week I emailed a friend apologizing if I was a bit difficult sometimes. It was a conversation in Spanish. I understood everything up until he wrote, “solo se tu mismo.” I kept translating in my head, but I wasn’t getting it because the only way I was interpreting “se” was the conjugation of the verb saber, which is “to know.” I typed it into google translate. Staring back at me were these words:
Just be yourself.
After further reflection with a friend (thank gawd for hummus therapy), it was perhaps thought that maybe I don’t trust other people with who I really am because ta-da, I am flawed!. So what better way than to trust someone with who you really are than to go for a bike ride with two two-time ironman finishers outside of Mexico City after not having ridden in over a yearIt was a beautiful day up in Tepotzatlan. A bike rider’s dream. A forgotten road. Hardly no cars. Hardly any cyclists. Rolling hills. Mountains in the far distance.
Clean air. Pink and purple flowers popping up everywhere.
It’s more dangerous to slow down and brake than to just let yourself fly. I know. If you’re scared you’re gonna fall, you’re probably gonna fall. I know. I know. I know. So, there I was, having just rounded a corner and for no particular reason here comes a small downhill and I am frozen. My friends, so kind and patient, coaxed me back on the bike and rode with me back to the car.
I have a love/hate relationship with endurance events. I love them because I love race day. I love them because it gives me a reason to get out of my house and out into the sunshine (or fog). I love them because really and truly exercise is my prescription drug, and I’m more likely to take it if I have a goal.
I hate them for the amount of work they seem to take sometimes, and for the confrontation of all the emotions that come up (especially the bike) in one or two hours. One minute, I am experiencing the complete joy of pedaling myself through such beauty, the other, cursing uphill and missing that damn third rung, and freezing at the downhill, all the while knowing that if I can just let myself go, trust the bike and let it, take me down and then power me through the next uphill the experience might not only be more safe, but also more pleasurable. I struggle with this by myself. I know myself. But to let someone else see that? And, it wasn’t like I could run out the door (I am notorious for leaving classes).
I think I have gotten to the point in my life where I would rather just struggle by myself, get through it, hibernate, and come out when I’m chipper again. Sometimes being alone is just easier. And it’s so hard sometimes to admit that you need or want help. Because you need help cause you can’t do something and you’re “flawed.” And sometimes it’s hard to admit that you’re sad because well isn’t that a flaw too? And what’s really hard? To realize, that, at the end of the day, that the only person who’s really running away from you, is you.