Day 8, Carpinteria to Santa Monica, 78 miles
There’s something about a marathon ride that strips away all pretense, takes me down to the bones of who I am, what I struggle with. Today is one of those rides. By grace, it’s mostly flat, covers a rather uninspiring terrain, circumnavigates a Navy base.
I’m ruminating as I ride. What is my life to become? What relationships can I count on? What am I here to do? A brief call with my love, first in weeks. My heart is filled with compassion and longing, confusion and certainty. The Zen of inner conflict and deep wisdom.
Decades of miles, ticking off. 10, 20, 30. Then at the halfway point, the bizarre missile park. Always shocking to come upon this, an homage to the cold war, at the edge of the Navy base, just before getting on 101 and heading into Malibu.
Missile park. What the fuck. Why are we celebrating, dignifying these weapons of mass destruction. Plaques explain clinically the purpose of each bomb, tactical, strategic. Never the horror of annihilation, of nuclear armageddon that these simple devices would unleash.
It’s poignant to me that never since the Cold War have the nuclear sabers been rattled as now, by the new leadership headed to the White House. Are we on the verge of some kind of insane end game again?
I was born just five months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the time the world was closest to nuclear war. I remember the first time I imagined what terror a blown up, over radiated world would be. No where safe. No one survives.
I take a deep breath. I want to take another damned selfie. What should I look like? A smile? Angry? Numb? I take another breath, what do I really feel here. Tears are welling in my eyes. How incredibly sad this whole story is, how the most powerful nations on earth plan to destroy each other, build the technology to bring it about. And now, elect leaders who carry only the message of fear and hatred. More tears.
Where is the love? Where is the path of nonviolence. Ahimsa, the word Gandhi used to describe non-harming. I’m thinking now, again, about the trainings on Nonviolent Communication that I’m studying, with my counselor. How this compassionate leader, Marshall Rosenberg, developed a process to bring us back from the brink of destruction, back into the heart, back into the language of empathy and healing.
Wish so much I’d known this process, much earlier in my life. How much heartache could I have prevented. How much healing could have happened. And in the teachings, of course, to be gentle with myself. Not harsh or critical or self blaming. Oh, that’s the hard part indeed. And the root of untangling the conflict, the anxieties, the fears. Self love, not self hate.
I think of the times when my life has felt out of control, which I’ve given over to my addictions, the times I’m out of integrity with what I know I want to be doing, what I want to be creating. Indeed, the abandonment is internal, I’ve left myself. An inner violence .
And here, now, at the missile park, feeling the grief of a nation, of a world at the brink, feeling the grief of the sense I might lose a relationship I hold so dear, I find myself again. In my grief, I find my love. I find my inspiration, to turn over the new page. To look forward to see what I can build, create, inspire. In myself, in all my relations. I find the grace of forgiveness, of new possibilities.
I’m back on my bicycle now, the remaining miles tick off, decades at a time. 40, 50, 60. At last the final few. I’m gliding over the pavement, lightly pedaling, so it seems. Faster pace than ever. Legs and bones and heart and breath all working in synchronicity, to carry this man over the decades of miles, over the memories and feelings and words and questions.
Arriving in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, city of angels, beaches stark and empty, sky brilliant and cold, I’m hungry and thirsty and ready. The hostel is a respite for this traveler. Hot shower, then some dinner.
What now, Ocean. Who will I become? How will I bring peace, stop the flow of fear. I must study, meditate, reflect, write. Go inward. Reach out. Listen to my heart. Open to the hearts of others. Hold all in the light of love. Take another step on the path of Ahimsa, the way of nonviolence.