Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Living for the moment

I’ve joined the crowd and discovered the delights of the MP3. I now see why the children have been so absorbed on blisteringly dull patches of riding. Grinding up long steep hills with burnt land or vineyards stretching out as far as the eye can see is so much more fun and atmospheric when you can do it with Sting crooning away about his ‘fields of gold.’ Last night on a particularly hard stretch of gravel with the sun blasting into my face and no breeze, it was only Gary Barlow that got me through the whole ordeal. And as I rode out yesterday from Logrono, a burst of Mozart coincided with the beginning of this dirt road next to which miles of fence had been studded with home made crosses. Literally tens of thousands of them; little and large wooden sticks gathered from the scrub and weaved into crosses, framing the urban landscape and the motorway beneath with a studded wall reminding the religiously motivated pilgrims of why they are there, and giving the others something interesting to look at.

As I clung on for dear life to the handlebars (I hate going off road) I wondered if for most of this road I have missed the point of it. I’ve been worrying away about the cycling, concentrating on getting from A to B, and taking care of feeding the kids whereas so many others are there to feed their souls and concentrate on their spiritual path. In my experience there’s little room for finding yourself when you’re fully occupied scrabbling around to locate clean socks for everyone, ensuring there’s enough healthy food in the picnic bag to feed the rabble at least three times a day, and locating the right road at the right time, when everyone is in the right mood. But then perhaps all our family journeys have been pilgrimages of a kind. While there may not be time for any of those big life changing experiences people talk about, there are hundreds of little ‘moments’ that are spiritual and memorable in their own way. And here you find them when you least expect them. As the children dashed off the bikes to make their own crosses out of wood and grass, I glanced at my baby sleeping peacefully in the buggy, her head lolling, and her spectacles hanging lopsided across her face. Then I thought of our new nephew we’d just been told had been born. (congratulations Angela and Joe) The sky was blue, the makeshift crosses led the way down the gravel hill and I had a new battery in the MP3. It’s never just about the cycling.

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