Saturday, December 31, 2011


As 2011 comes to a close, it is tempting to look back and compile a list of accomplishments and a list of failures. This year, I choose not to do so and will simply say, “Hey some really good stuff happened and, yeah, I didn’t pull everything off I intended.” Unlike Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, I’m choosing to focus on the space between yesterday and tomorrow.

Janus- Roman god

(Janus – Roman god of beginnings and ending, openings and closings)

Beginnings and endings have been on my mind quite a bit recently. I’m finding the bleed over from…

my personal life and my professional life to be coalescing around trying to focus more on this moment and this place rather than past moments or past places. Similarly, avoiding the anxiety of what might be as I make another career transition is leading to more of a focus on enjoying what is Now professionally and not missing it due to wondering what it will be. With this concept in mind, today I “penned” my latest cycling column for my local newspaper.

It was an interesting experience of focusing on the Now while thinking of both the past and the future. For what it is worth, I offer the product for next week today, as in Now…


As I write this piece, we are on the cusp of both endings and beginnings. We look both backward and forward at the same time. Looking backward reveals to us the accomplishments or lack thereof in the past year. Looking forward focuses our attention on what is to come and what will be. In Roman theology, Janus, was the god of beginnings and endings. The two headed depictions of Janus are well known to us even today. One head looks back while one head looks forward.

As a people, we all focus time and energy on the past, hopefully learning from our mistakes and our successes. We also look to the future with either dread or hope. In balance, it is a healthy approach to life. Looking backward and forward affects how we experience our place in the world and our life experiences. When unbalanced, however, it can lead to problems.

Unbalanced looking backward can lead to depression and a focus of our energies on things we cannot change. Events act as an anchor holding us to the past. Similarly, looking forward in an unbalanced way can lead to anxiety and dread of what we are yet to experience. Unbalanced, we look forward to our days with anticipation of pain and fear.

Riding a bicycle has a way of helping you to focus on the Now. When I am descending a mountain, I am very aware of the air in my face, the speed with which my wheels gobble pavement, and the need to be absolutely in touch with where I am Now as I approach the next curve. When climbing to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I am very aware of the Now – the beat of my heart, the intake of oxygen, the gravel in the road. Each moment on a bicycle must be about my Now or my future moments may not come at all. It is this experience of being present at this time in this place, wherever it may be, that is the inherent joy of cycling.

Think about it… When you are in your car trying to text a message, what is your experience of your Now? When you are rushing to save 2 minutes, what is your experience of your Now? As you drift over the fog line while driving your car, what is your experience of your Now and what might that lead to for my experience of my Now?

Research into building positive mental health has shown that focusing on the Now and being aware of our current circumstances in day-to-day living leads to improved qualities of life for individuals and for those who live around them. If you can’t experience your Now from a bicycle, please practice experiencing your Now while driving your car. It will mean that you slow down, hang up the phone, and enjoy the moments of your Now, which just might lead to a whole bunch more of us enjoying our Nows.


As you read this, I hope you are in a good place and able to find pleasure in your experience of this moment. My best wishes to all for many happy NOWS in 2012!

Happy New Year!



The Velo Hobo said...

Yes! ~ "Be where you are". I hope both cyclists and motorists practice mindfulness in the upcomming year.

Great post, Jack

Unknown said...

As do I! I just returned from North Canton. The snow was laying pretty good on the roads. I passed a solitary cyclist on NC 110 as we were leaving town. The fellow had a single light on his helmet and reflectors on pedals and a leg reflector. He was pretty observable in the snow! Chapeau to him!

- Zeke