The other Ocean

A rough night, up many times, restless, anticipating today’s ride. Then a disturbing dream.

There’s a man, shooting at targets he’s set up in the middle of a large playing field. He shoots then misses, then says he will shoot again. I’m alarmed because there are people picnicking just to the left of his targets. And people are entering the field just to the right.

I go to ask him to join us in shooting at a range, safely away from his dangerous targets. “Hi, I’m Ocean, what’s your name?”

“I’m Ocean,” he says with a sneer.

I can’t tell if Ocean is also his name also or if he’s mocking my hippy name. He’s a tough guy, the kind whose politics and social stances I would be opposed to. I wake again, restless and ill at ease.

This is about the time when the tour gets hard. When the riding has evened out, I’m stronger physically. Less to distract my whirling mind. The memories, the regrets, the worries and angst. And the loneliness. How the loneliness becomes sharp, pointed, piercing me right where I most… need it?

Who is the other Ocean in my dream, if not that part of me I am so wanting to leave in my past? Careless, arrogant, unyielding, stupid. Many of my previous tours have been motivated by flight. Running away. But all failed this goal, inevitably, because one cannot run away from ones self, after all. Is this tour really that different? Am I still running?

Back to the loneliness, piercing me where I need it to. Opening my heart, to feel my isolation and withdrawal. Despite all my reaching out, meeting tbe many fellow cyclists, I am yet still guarded, holding back, pulling away.

In the lead article in this month’s Sun, Daniel Ladinsky quotes the Persian mystic Hadiz:

“Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you as few
human or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft,

my voice so tender, my need of God
absolutely clear.”

The last line may be difficult for an agnostic atheist such as myself. But recently I’ve come to realize I have a longing to achieve something greater. Rather than a Higher Power, my “Higher Purpose” motivates me to overcome limitations, whether addiction or injury or mental duress or arrogance. A higher purpose can be cycling 2000 miles, or learning to manage a small business, or loving my family more dearly, or planting a young forest of trees that will last a millennium.

Tomorrow I will fly onward on my bicycle, furrher into understanding and self awareness. I will not surrender my loneliness so quickly. May it cut me more deep. Right where I need it to.

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