Saturday morning I met a dear friend and her husband for breakfast. She was out of town for a week and has been sick since her return, so we hadn't seen one another for two weeks.
"What have you done to yourself?" she cried when I walked up. "You look like a different person!"
We talked about biking and all the ways it's changing me. We finished our breakfast and drove straight to the bike store, where she bought a beautiful blue Electra Townie. I scooted home to get Molly (my bike), and then Barb and I rode around a duck pond near her home.
Barb is very ill. She can barely sit up through a meal. She struggles with extreme pain. She weighs an ounce less than nothing. But for a little while, she left all that behind as we pedaled past two lesser egrets and a muskrat and sparkling water. We only rode half a mile, but it was a whole victory for her. We're going again on Tuesday.
Early this morning I drove down to my brother's house with Molly belted into Paula's back seat. Paula had to go topless to accommodate Molly's back tire, but with a yoga mat beneath the frame, the whole set-up was pretty stable.
Jennifer Berezan singing in the background, I prayed for 180 miles--prayers for my sister-friend fighting breast cancer, for my dear friend fighting lung cancer; prayers for my father, my children, my self; many friends. Although I was completely alert to the road and the traffic, the music and the prayers also lifted me, took me somewhere higher and lighter and more joyous. I felt the leaping greenly spirits of trees (thanks to e e cummings).
It was as close to perfect happiness as I've been in years--maybe ever--driving beneath cummings' "blue true dream of sky," as the mists writhed in the valleys and the sun climbed over the hills.
By noon, my brother and i were riding a rail trail through the woods, dodging tree branches and aiming for the high spots on washed-out sections. We listened to the creek beside us and cows in the distance. We laughed at ourselves and each other. We had fun.
Happiness is so simple and so complex--everything and nothing at all. The harder I've chased it through life, the more elusive it's been. I've never been able to run it down, but it bucks a ride as I pedal my bike, giving thanks "for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes."