Monday, July 28, 2008


Originally uploaded by rod lewis
Yesterday, after an unexpected detour (actually, a turn-and-go-back!) I stopped at the same place I had early and took a biological break. When I was ready to get back on the bike, I glanced at my helmet and saw myself. You may not believe this, but I'm pretty sure this was the first time I'd seen myself in nearly a week. Now, be sure, out here all alone, long rides through nowhere, lying awake under the vast sky at night, I've seen myself alright - just not my outside self, not the visible part. (and as narly as that part may be, other parts I've seen this week are much less pleasant to contend with).
So here I was gazing in the shiny black, convex surface of my helmet and saw the outside, slightly distorted version of myself. I think probably my vision of myself is always a bit distorted- always as if I’m seeing myself reflected in a shiny black concave helmet.
We’ve all got protectors, we all wear armor, build walls, position ourselves safely behind, beneath, or within something that keeps us from seeing or knowing us, or keeps us from having to meet whom we know is there, or whom we are afraid we’ll find.
I don’t know, it just felt odd looking at my distorted self against the gorgeous sky reflected in my own protector – from the outside.
Ironically, a few hours later, while I was in an informational meeting for the workshop at St. John’s College, my helmet was stolen from my bike. Poof. Gone. Nothing between skull and the road, should I fail to keep rubber side down. Nothing to keep the rain off the top, or the bugs out of my face and eyes. Nothing to keep me out of jail should I not replace it before I ride into Nevada next week.
Truth is, I don’t feel comfortable riding out here in wonderful strange-land without it. I’ve spent a lot of the night thinking about protectors, vulnerability, openness, authenticity, etc. I’m here for a writers’ workshop, and as I’m mingling for the first time with total strangers, feeling self-conscious, wondering at who they are, who they think I am, out in the parking lot and protective tool is being stolen from me.
For five days I’ve been alone. Sometimes, in traffic, or among myriad people, and sometimes in actual solitude where no other human could be found for a hundred miles.
Last night, I was forced to mingle with a few hundred people with whom I actually do have to interact, have conversation, engage.
Wonder what other barriers, armor, and protectors will be taken from me as this week progresses?