The Courage to Feel


I got in 130 miles over the last 3 days, before the rains returned. I rode 18 miles on Thursday, then 81 miles on Friday (Newport to Heceta Lighthouse and back!) and finally 31 miles today, the Decker-Bellfountain Loop. Both today and yesterday I played with the wind, riding head in for the morning, then turning and catching the tailwind on the return. Like riding up a big hill and then sailing down the other side, such a joy to fly on the straightaway at 20+ mph. I was pumping hard, feeling my strength once again, the warm ache in my legs as they get stronger. I am moving beyond the winter lazies that had set in, and need to get back in shape for the coming spring riding season.

I am going to tour more in 2011, a lot more. In fact, I’m planning several trips. Like in that 80’s Huey Lewis song, I want a new drug, one that don’t make me sick… Riding is a drug, a good drug. After the long rides, I feel the runner’s high, but it seems more like a calm that sets in. A place I can relax, breathe, just be in my body, in my heart. Like time is slowing down, more time to think, more time to ponder, more time to live.

What I feel during the ride is another story. As much as I appreciate the long miles giving me time to ponder, I also struggle through so many thoughts, feelings, inner and outer conflicts. The rhythm of the pedals and rising/falling terrain are mirrored in my emotional state. I must take the good along with the bad, no? But in my understanding, there are no “good” or “bad” emotions. Emotions just “are”, much like the weather of the heart.

This brings me to a new focus in the blog, actually a renewed focus, from my work of 10-15 years ago. The title “The Courage to Feel” came to me on the ride Thursday, as I raced the sunset, having procrastinated the start of the ride until 5 pm. Ha! Conflicts clouded my joy as clearly as the oncoming storm. I thought of countless conversations I’ve had recently and in my past, watching and participating in arguments, unclear and hurtful behavior. How much opportunity has been lost, potential energy squandered, sacrificed to the need to be “right”, to convince another they are “wrong”.

So I start “The Courage to Feel” series with the emotion at hand – anger. An emotion so confusing, universally avoided, incorrectly expressed, projected, internalized, politicized, manipulated, distorted. Remember my premise – all emotions are neutral, like the weather. Yes, they have different energy, different visceral experiences, yet none are “good” or “bad”. Apply this to anger? Most of what we see isn’t expression of anger at all – more the result of externalized or projected anger, then acting in defense or attack, physical or verbal. Or internalized, where anger becomes self abuse, depression, degenerative illness.

In the Grof workshop and in earlier Co-Counseling, however, I was able to experience anger outside of the normal confusion – in a pure state. Without causing any risk or danger to others or self, anger appears as just a process of energy flowing, a response to – what? Some early mistreatment, confusion, withheld love, fear? I’m not exactly sure. What I do know is that it felt really good to release, then becoming grief tangled in with fear. And then it all passed, like a storm, and back came the sun, the warmth, the laughter, the calm, the state of peace.

So now the sun does shine! There’s so much beauty and wonder in my life right now, as I am rediscovering what I love and where I want to go. The Open Mic at FireWorks has become an amazing community of musicians and fans, supportive and challenging each other to grow and mature into class acts, professional performers, rising stars. The addition of the Talent Search contest seemed to be the catalyst that changed the nature of the event from amateur night into a music lab. I am surprised and honored to see the courage ofnew performers, who are greeted with support, encouragement, and sometimes constructive criticism, always holding out the greater goal of improving the art.

Monday’s show was a particular gem, so much so that I decided to post the whole think as a podcast, more or less straight as it was performed, editing out only intermediate dead air and chatter. If you like what you hear, there is much more coming, including the Acoustic Showdown playoff on August 28!

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