Be good, be better, be the best. What is better? What is the best? They're relative to how good you were to begin with. It wouldn't be so damn difficult to be better if I wasn't trying so hard to be good in the first place. What's better than everything you've got? What's better than every ounce of dedication and strength that you have? What does it mean when everything simply isn't enough? How am I supposed to feel when I'm trying my best and somehow things still don't feel good enough?
Is it true that there's always room for improvement or is it possible to reach a place where there is nowhere left to go? Could I be doing better or is good enough enough for now? Of course there are ways to improve, there will always be ways to improve and so long as I'm aware of this room to be better, I feel that I may never be satisfied. If I go through life comparing myself to the person that I once was, living off pure adrenaline and standing upright only with the assistance of enough caffeine to kill a small child, then I will never be satisfied with the life that I'm living now. Mundane and boring, and oh so safe. So safe that most nights I still want to crawl out of my own skin.
If being so safe that I feel uncomfortable is my biggest problem then maybe things aren't so bad. Maybe this really is as good as it gets. You can never have too much safety. Wrong. Too much of a good thing can kill you. Ask me how I know. But a little bit of a good thing only leaves you hungry for more. I'm not hungry for any more. I'm quite full actually. A wrench in the spokes of life or a little danger now and then is a good reminder that you're alive.
I'm riding again. If only just a little. Four miles there and four miles back. To and from work and nothing more. Safe. Confined. Completely different than anything I have ever known before. I know I'm not the same person that I once was because the person that I once was would never be satisfied with eight miles round trip and so much time on either end to fill with pedaling, with daylight hours spent breathing and sweating and suffering. The person that I am now is terrified that it will ever become something more than it is. This feels safe, this feels manageable, this feels confined and structured. This is not open ended and life has far more to offer me than mountain roads and wasted hours alone lost in my thoughts.
I don't have time for it any longer and I'm proud of this fact. My life has grown to the point that there simply isn't room for so much dedication to a dead end road any longer. Fifteen minutes in a car each way or fifteen minutes pedaling, it all comes out the same in the end. And this is where it belongs. I don't want to dedicate an extra second of my life to something that has stolen years of my existence already. Stolen is the wrong word. It gave me as much as it ever took away, perhaps more. It gave me a home when I had none and a family that cared about me in a time when I felt so all alone. It gave me everything that I needed then but my needs are different now. I need so many things to survive now because I am only human and humans need love and support and a thousand more things that have nothing to do with a bike in order to feel whole. Needs were met, but I never felt so empty in my life as when the only thing I had was a bike.
Now I have clarity and people and thoughts and words and so many more things than I ever could have imagined I would and I swear that the second any of those things is threatened again by two wheels, a chain, and some pedals, the bike will leave my life once more. I'm not willing to sacrifice any longer. I'm not willing to lose an inch of ground which I have fought so incredibly hard to gain. I won't let go of anything or anyone. Its not worth it.
It feels different now. It's not everything now. It's enjoyable, yes, but it's not the only thing that matters. It's just exercise and nothing more and I'm thankful to have it. It's a few moments to enjoy the outdoors each morning and each afternoon when my days are spent locked away inside and it's a small way to reconnect with something that fulfilled me once. It doesn't fulfill me anymore and I question now how it ever could have. It's so empty and so meaningless at this point that I struggle to remember how it could have meant so much to me for so very long. I am a different person now and I have outgrown my childhood fantasies and grandiose ideas of an endless summer spent in Neverland. This is the real world now and the real world involves adult responsibilities and lots of hard work to make it spin. I'm more than happy to work hard.
I'm free now to breathe and exist in the way that I feel I was meant to. The body I have now may be the one that I have always and it feels like it may actually be right. I'm free from rules and restrictions, free to eat and drink, to sleep and wake, to exist in the way that feels right for my body, not in the way that feel right for my bike. The passion is gone, the fire has died out. And that's exactly what needed to happen. I needed to be away long enough that memories had faded in intensity and emotion had left the thing which used to hold so many feelings for me. I needed to forget what it felt like to spend a day in the saddle and to eat without ever feeling satisfied. I needed to start back at zero. Zero is where I am and I am afraid to ever leave it again. I don't want to remember what it feels like to pedal 100 miles and feel exhausted and accomplished and beautiful and thin. I don't want to remember because I could never escape if the memories become clear and focused again. I could never turn my back on those feelings if they were still alive. But they are dead and that's the only reason that this works at all. 15 minutes each way would never be enough if riding still meant to me now what it did once.
Happiness doesn't come from pedaling anymore. Happiness comes from people and relationships with those people. Happiness comes from feeling strong and capable in a whole new way. Happiness comes from feeling clear and present and from trusting that I am able to take care of myself in a way that I never could before. Happiness comes from feeling like a true adult for the first time in my life. Happiness lies in all of these things and I strive everyday to feel it. I don't always get there. Some days I can't escape the darkness, can't escape myself and familiar thoughts and expectations of what I could be if only I stopped eating. How much better would my life be if only I were ten pounds lighter? It wouldn't. Not today anyway. Perhaps tomorrow it will be again and it will be up to me to hold my ground and fight through the certainty that a recovered life is not meant for me.
For now, I will take what happiness I can find for myself today and keep fighting to be good, because today being good is my best and that's better than I ever could have imagined.