Every now and again I can feel my brain pathways getting overgrown with monotonous weeds and cobwebs. Too much scrolling through Instagram, Tumblr, news sites leaves my neurons foggy.
So I have to go weed whacking. New paths need to get forged and old ones need new offshoots.
Today I went on a bike ride. For whatever reason it always does the trick for me. Maybe because it’s a whole body experience? The lactic acid in my thighs. The smell of cut grass. The visual smorgasbord of racing through Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods.
It’s a trigger exercise for me. I see things that send my mind racing around in time making connections.
I saw a yard covered with big wheels and scooters. Like 15 of them. That reminded me of the time I saw Adam Sandler’s movie production office and it had about the same number of toys parked out front. I remembered promising myself that someday I’d work in an environment like that—surrounded by kids, my friends and their kids, making stuff together. Then I thought about my wife, Leah, being two weeks away from giving birth to our second kid. Will it be a boy or a girl?
I rode through a street where every two-bedroom house had perfectly manicured lawns. No big deal except for this street was in the middle of a not-so-great part of town. Their neighbors, a Check ‘n Go and abandoned gas station, both had parking lots covered with trash. But this little oasis of perfect lawns made me wonder who or what sparked this rebellion. I thought about chain reactions. Which made me remember 8th grade science. And tight-rolled pants.
I saw a St. Bernard dog statue in front of the firehouse in St. Bernard. That triggered a memory of George. The porcelain basset hound we found on the street in college. His chipped face and long ears. I wondered where he ended up.
I turned up Vine into a strong headwind and smelled cherries. Gail force Fun Dip. Who knew the flavor company in Carthage worked on the weekends? That smell took me back to the swimming pool at Meadow Lake. I was instantly there. The hilly drive through the thick woods. The ducks on the pond that my mom said came back every year. The arithmetic of figuring out how much candy we could buy from the concession stand. That cherry wind + my burning thighs then took me to running hills for high school football conditioning. Which made me wonder what un-fun stuff we’ll have to go through to get to the fun stuff at work. As an adult.
And on and on and on. Bike rides trigger wonder for me. They make me think sideways, backways, futureways. They clear my head and leave me ready to _____ (fill in the blank). Make stuff.
If you’re feeling stuck, or in a rut, or just dazed and confused—take a walk. Slip into some spandex and ride. Whack some literal or figurative weeds. Go hunting for some cherry wind.
And then… _____ (fill in the blank). Make stuff.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Gabe