It’s been a shitty two days.
Yesterday, it basically rained all day. That is no good on a bike tour, it creates a snowball effect of suck that beats down on my mood and motivation. First, the rain turns roads into mush, particularly unpaved bike paths. The wet debris from these roads get in our gears and messes with the shifting. Then, the rain starts to screw with my phone, which I need to navigate. Add that to being cold and wet and knowing that our tent is going to be miserable to sleep in and it just gets me down. Also, it pisses Higgins off and he gets really uncomfortable, and when he gets uncomfortable he whines non-stop. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a dog whining behind you for three hours but it is a terrible sound. It is annoying and frustrating to know that you can’t help someone you love feel comfortable.
We had planned on sleeping at a campground but due to the rain (and closed roads and everything) we were running behind, we called one campground and they didn’t allow dogs. We called a second campground and they only had one spot left that they wouldn’t reserve for us. I knew it was unlikely the spot would still be free when we arrived around 2 hours later so we just decided to find a stealth camping spot on the side of the road.
Well, do you know what terrain is difficult to find a good camping spot in? Yep, swamps. And Louisiana is filled with swamps. We ended up biking around for way too long looking for a spot before we finally found something that would work underneath an interstate overpass about 20 miles from New Orleans. By time we arrived and set up the moisture from the rain and humidity had destroyed the battery on my phone. We were safe though, which I guess is something to be thankful for.
In fact, we had a lot to be thankful for. At some point today I was able to meditate a bit on my situation and turn my mood around. I was reminded again that my mood is under my control, even when a thousand things are not. I can’t control the rain, Higgins mood, the crazy drivers on the road, the construction on the bike path, or the shitty no dog or no reservations policies at campgrounds. But I can control my mood.
So, I took some deep breaths and recited over and over the words that always seem to calm me: This is the situation I am in. I can’t change the past but I can change the present.
I recite this chant a dozen or so times and my mood calms. I’m not happy, but I’m at peace. I start to focus on the amazing world we live in. The beauty of the natural world… the mountains in the background, the flowers in the sidewalk cracks, the birds chirping all around. The awe that comes from seeing what man can create… a plane flying high overhead, a building taller than every tree in the area, the levee I’m on holding the mighty Mississippi at bay.
The world is all around for us to be in awe of, if we allow ourselves. I fail daily to really appreciate what this world has to offer, and I am the one to suffer because of my limited ability to appreciate.