Cycling as the Art of Living

Here is an interesting piece written by Gauri Parasher on the mundane activity of cycling.

A man’s life can often be compared to a series of interminable activities. Among them exist those that relax us naturally. Painting, playing music, reading are some such kind of activities. But as I was unfortunate enough to not develop any taste for these, cycling became the one relaxing exercise for me.

I was seven years old when I learned to cycle. The cycle that I used belonged to my family since generations. It was so old that I often wondered if my grandfather hadn’t learned cycling on this particular one! I had no idea what was its real colour as it had long since disappeared. The cycle was small and frail and old but for me it was a wonderful mystery and everyday I tried, more than ever, to understand and master it. And during the course of this undertaking, which of us received more blows, I don’t know. But we survived without too much damage and one fine day I succeeded in making a round of our small colony without falling even once. For me it was no less than a world tour on two wheels!

Days passed! Circumstances changed and me too! And in this all-engulfing ocean of time, I don’t remember which particular wave separated my cycle from me, but the memory of its precious gift always remained with me. Now I was the owner of a beautiful new cycle that took me everywhere: to the school, to the playground, to the market. It became an irresistible method of going places in a short time. In the beginning, I valued it for its practical value i.e. it helped me economise in time and energy. And several years passed before I understood the finer points of this mundane activity.

Essentially, it comprises of two contradictory aspects: movement and immobility.

The immobility lies in the precarious balance that one has to create in the rider so as to not fall off. This fixed equilibrium seems so challenging and difficult to acquire in the beginning. But once achieved, it is rarely lost. The balance and harmony thus created between the bicycle and me leads to the second aspect.

In fact, it’s only when we are properly balanced that we can advance without tumbling off. And the movement thus achieved takes us to wherever we want to go. A perfect equilibrium produces an effective movement. And then, the most treacherous and most difficult roads become easier to travel on. And this generates a joy that one feels when everything is right with our world. This is what I feel every time I ride a bicycle.

But it took me many more years and more of life to realize that these same principles of balance and movement apply to everything that we do in life and to life itself. Isn’t this the art of living in fact?

— Gauri Parasher

One thought on “Cycling as the Art of Living

  1. How delightfully mundane and profound at the same time. I’ve found a similar balance of silence and action in playing the piano, and I imagine folks can find an almost endless variety of ways this applies in their own lives.

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