I wasn’t an athletic kid.
In my grade school rampant with bullies (that’s what we know to call them now, when I was little it was “just kids being kids”) organized sports just seemed like an invite for one-upsmanship and cruel competition and humiliation if you messed up at the rules and being the last one to be picked always. Really, I didn’t understand why anyone bothered.
But bike riding–I loved bike riding. Wind in my hair, the growl of tires on asphalt, it was flying.
We lived on a crazy busy rural road with tiny shoulders, steep hills, and massive lumber trucks. For a long time while I was learning my parents gamely would drive me and my pink and white Huffy to safe neighborhoods and playgrounds to ride. Once I had my balance, I learned to ride on the skinny, sloping shoulder of our road as the large trucks whooshed past. I learned to hear them coming and move as far as I possibly could, even diving into the soft gravel if necessary for my safety.
At some point I proudly traded in that little white Huffy for an adolescent 3-speed, then a grown-up 10-speed. And when you’re driving on a busy road there are times getting off your bike and walking a steep hill just won’t cut it. You’ve got to learn to use your gears.
And so I was introduced to the concept of slow-gear. It’s the lowest of the low gears, so low that it feels like you’re barely moving. But if you keep spinning those pedals eventually you will crawl to the top of the hill. And, amazingly, with less effort than if you stomped on those pedals in the higher gears. It’s not proud, but it will get you there. And it’s the arriving at the top that matters.
Fast forward through my life, and I’ve used the analogy of slow-pedaling more than once in my life. When my daughter had colic for months and I couldn’t see beyond the end of my nose from exhaustion. Tackling fix-it projects at our farm. Finishing term papers. Just this week when she had a headcold and was an Toddler Monster-Diva and come Sunday when I should have been recouping my energy from a long week, I came down with the same headcold. I stood at the sink this Monday and stared at those dishes and thought to myself: Low Gear, gal. Use your LOW GEAR.
What is low gearing your way through life?
- It’s showing up when quitting isn’t an option, no matter how tired you are.
- It’s not caring how fast you do something.
- It’s done is good.
- It’s just keeping moving your feet until finally you make it through.
- It’s giving yourself that space to be slow but steady.
- It’s about not being fancy but about crossing the finish-line.
Life is exhausting these days. If you’re tuned into politics, it feels like there’s more attacks than we can possible field, that they’re never going stop and that they couldn’t possibly get any worse–until they do.
It’s low-gear time, people.
Go slow. Give yourself the permission to go slow.
Don’t waste your energy. Don’t try to stomp on those pedals so you can go fast.
Do that one thing in front of you. Then the next thing.
Focus on nothing more than that.
We’ll get there. I promise.