So how do you hold on to the Good Feeling? I’m a huge MotoGP fan, and when you see the riders getting interviewed after a race they often talk, in their endearing English As A Second Language way, about their Good Feeling.
"The bike gave me a good feeling today," they’ll say if the race went well. And then I snigger, coz I’m sure I’d have a bloody good feeling too, if I was straddling a gigantic vibrating motorcycle! But if things go bad, they will say, "I could not find a good feeling with the bike."
They’re talking about the harmony between man and machine. What’s this got to do with anything? Well, if you say hypothetically my brain is Valentino Rossi and my body is a motorcycle, then it’s clear we’re not having our best season. It’s that elusive mind/body connection I was talking about last month. I still haven’t quite got it back!
The last time I truly felt the Good Feeling was back in Chicago in July. I’d just finished the first round of book edits and was so happy with how it turned out and with the message I’d put across. I felt this lovely peace with everything. It was like there were dozens of those dinky tealight candles, racked along on my ribs, so I was just glowing glowing glowing from within.
But ever since various things… mostly my own sabotaging brain… have chipped away at the ol’ confidence a bit. Do not fear, scale-watchers! I’ve not stacked it back on. It’s just that a little black cloud has been loitering like a seagull outside a chip shop.
The other day I went out for a bike ride ON THE ROAD. Analogue bike, that is. I’d never ridden a bicycle on a road before. I grew up on a farm so it was all rattling over gum leaves and sheep shit. After a year of adult bicycle ownership I thought it was time to venture beyond cycle tracks and illegal footpaths, so I got Gareth to take me around the road loop he does a few times a week. I felt a grim determination about the task. I wanted to come back to the blog and report my triumph and be all positive and light and endorphin-ed, like I always do after these new sporty forays… mind and body hooked up again. Instead of clicking New Post and staring at the blank space for an hour.
The ride was bloody terrifying! Especially because I don’t have any road sense. I’ve driven a car once in the past 4.5 years, so I’m rusty on road skills and peripheral vision. Gareth pedalled along behind me on a lazy country road, and yelled out when a car was coming. I would shake my head vigorously in denial, as if that would make them go away! I could barely pedal, my quads were so ridiculously tense.
Somehow we made it to the Big Mother Roundabout with all the buses and trucks hurtling along towards Glasgow. I froze in terror and pulled over, feeling angry tears catch in my throat. It was like that Yoga Incident a couple months ago, where my physical fear and crapness felt like a metaphor for everything else I’d been crap at lately. But after glaring at some trees for ten minutes I got back on, approached the roundabout and made the shakiest hand signal ever and arooooond we went. DUDES, MY HAND WAS OFF THE HANDLEBAR FOR A WHOLE TEN SECONDS. I can’t believe it took me a year to get up the nerve to do that. Mwahaha.
Then I pedalled painfully slowly through a wee village that was far busier than should be legal on a Sunday. Why do people insist on not only driving cars , but parking them and getting in and out of them and flapping their big scary doors!? My teeth were chattering with terror, but then I got the giggles at how I was too knackered to pedal any faster to get out of this situation any quicker.
Finally I made another hand signal – this one more of a limp flash of a Hitler salute – and we were back on a country road. Oh my leggggs. They had nothing left to give! I had to get off and walk for the second last hill. Gareth reassured me he didn’t make it either earlier in the year, when he’d put on a slight Winter Coat of lard over Christmas, stillI couldn’t help feeling annoyed.
But then we got to the last hill, and I recognised it right away. The same "XTREME" hill I was too terrifed to ride down in February; the same hill I failed to pedal up! It looked so hilariously tiny now. I huffed and I puffed but I got to the top, no worries!
We finally got back home after 1hr 20mins – Gareth usually does it in 45mins, the shapely bastard. I curled up on the couch to listen to my muscles sing. The exercise hadn’t brought on the Good Feeling; I’ll be honest… but I suddenly felt okay about not feeling the Good Feeling.
I’ve been very negative recently, thinking that I should be cool with all the Big Changes in my life by now. I worried that I’d never shake it and find my way back again. But the highs and lows of that little bike trip made me see where I’ve been going wrong. It’s impossible to see the way forward if you’re too busy beating yourself up. It’s not a failure of character if you dare to feel a bit lost and incompetent. Sometimes life gets challenging and things are plain uncomfortable for a sustained period. The Good Feeling is harder to come by, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never find it again! I keep thinking of that dinky little hill that seemed so impossible six months ago, and remember that I’ve been here before. I’ll be back up to fullhorsepowers soon enough. Vrooooooom!