Ride with Purpose - [PART THREE] Day eighteen to twenty-three || Film and words by Birralee Hassen
22nd august Day eighteen
I write myself little reminders in my phone, the issue is remembering to read them when it’s tough. The first thing is – life has a way of looking after you when you allow it to. Stop resisting, worrying, and you’ll see that everything works out fine. More than fine. My life has worked out amazingly. All the time that I have spent worrying about issues that amount to nothing in the end, could have been spent as time being grateful, or noticing what is directly in front of me. Because every moment, whether good or bad, will never happen again.
Ask yourself, “What in THIS moment, is there for me to worry about?” The answer is always, in this very moment, nothing. By asking yourself that question it brings the awareness back to the present moment, and by being in the present moment it deletes the anxiety that comes from the space between the present and the future, and eliminates the regret or nostalgia that often spills from the space between the present and the past.
Working on the mind is a constant project. It’s not like you can meditate once and be enlightened. It takes effort, time and a lot of remembering to improve mental states. We all have an innate state of joy at the centre of our being, it’s remembering that it’s there and allowing all the other worries and grown up adult things that we pile on top of it to be cleared so that it can shine through.
There is often a gap, between who we are and who we want to be, or who we portray ourselves as. It is a daily task to work at shortening that gap, so that we can be the best possible versions of ourselves.
I have found that having a morning ritual works wonders for my mental state. The practice of writing, even just three paragraphs, provides me with discipline, structure, and a way of expressing my emotions. Stretching my body, and sitting in silence with my mind also set my day up to be far more positive than if I don’t do these things. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I do these things and everything still feels shit at points (like yesterday), but I know that if I keep chipping away at them, eventually they will get easier, they will become part of who I am, and that is what I want.
23rd August day nineteen
I have another week until Burning Man. For this week, I want to spend as little money as possible, and eat as healthily as possible. I have been finding my body craving sugar, using a lot of energy cycling so much every day. But stopping for cookies, ice cream or snacking on bulk food chocolates as I walk around the store, even though not adding to my waste bag I feel may be having an impact on my mental state.
It has been a common idea that has come up in my chats with people about mental health, how diet plays a large role. So this week I will cut out refined sugar and see if that makes an impact. Fruit can be my sugar intake, and trail mix. I also just want to have good self-control and self-discipline for this last week. Self-discipline is so mind related, I have to in the moment before I go to eat sugary food ask myself “is this me always doing my best?”.
I’m camped at my first Warm Shower’s host house, in Loleta. Today I will ride through the Avenue of Giants, thousand of year old redwood trees. Yesterday I camped with Ali and Serena, two girls, travelling separately, who were also cycling solo. I felt recharged and inspired after a night with them at the hiker/ biker camp at Patricks Point. It’s crazy how some feminine energy together can work wonders. We all went off and wrote in our journals, and laughed how different it were should there be males there; we would have been standing around comparing our bikes.
Yesterday I rode through gum trees, gum leaves and gum nuts on the ground. It brought a feeling of Australian familiarity that made me smile. Madi also booked her flight over here – ten days! That is super exciting. We will work on the weed farm for five weeks and then continue travelling. I’m riding past Pat’s farm tomorrow so it will be good to speak with him and meet him before coming back after Burning Man.
24th August day twenty
I rode through the avenue of the giants yesterday. I’m camped near the end of the avenue now. These trees are so old, growing anywhere from 2200 years ago. It is incredible to look up, and up, their trunks straight up and down as they reach for the high sky. Yesterday as I was riding down the hills, I would tilt my head back and watch them pass above me. Time slowed down to moments as the green leaves and brown trunks moved through my line of vision before passing on to the next.
My body is sore, my muscles aching from the constant use. But I feel good, I feel like I have found my groove, I feel strong. My morning routing helps tremendously. Writing, yoga, and even just ten minutes of sitting still, sets my day up to be more positive than if I don’t take the time to do these things for myself. I do need to practice self-discipline with checking my phone first before I do these things. I don’t want to lay there and waste time on social media as a way of starting my day, but it is an easy habit to fall into.
So day one into my no sugar idea I failed, as I passed a little girl selling lemonade and cookies for fifty cents on the side of the road yesterday. We’ll try that again from today – ha! Everyone makes mistakes, and I just need to remind myself to not take myself so seriously. Don’t forget to play is one of my most valued lessons, but like all lessons I need to remind myself. Eat the cookie if it feels good to, swerve down the empty road because it’s fun, tilt your head back and feel the wind, listen to the birds that laugh and laugh with them. Life is meant to be enjoyed.
Don’t forget to look up. When I look up I remember to exhale and when I remember to exhale it reminds me to remind myself of the things I want to remind myself of. I feel like I am constantly reminding myself of the person that I want to be.
Every day I choose decisions, or rather I don’t choose them and just let things happen from habit, which creates gaps in the space between who I am and who I want to be. The closer I can make that gap is all that I can work on each day. Until eventually the person that I want to be and the person that I am merge.
At this point it will be good to stop and acknowledge the achievement that is bettering myself, because it should always be the goal to be the best possible version of yourself. But I also have to remember and remind myself that there is no finishing line to self-awareness or success, and thinking that I have it all figured out would be foolish.
If I think myself into believing something then it becomes real. I can choose to think about all the amazing people on this trip that I have met and how incredible the things I have seen and am seeing on daily basis are, or I can choose to scare myself with the thoughts and fears of those around me.
Daily I am faced with the choice to choose between love and fear. Fear is created in the head where as love comes from the heart. The head is there, but life is short so may my actions come from the heart.
The wind is a tricktress she runs through the night
Black ribbons behind her
Giving those who allow it a fright
She laughs as she snakes through the trees and sun beams
Over ripples of water
Causing crystals and gleams
Listen you’ll hear her if you stop and just be
Then chose to hear truly
The softness and glee
So many places where the wind loves to roam
So many places,
When the whole world is your home
Open your heart and spread your hands wide
Open your mouth
Feel the wind come inside
Fear and love both ride on the tides of the wind
It’s a personal choice
Which song you decide to hear her sing
25th August day twenty one
I’ve woken up in the mountains of Northern California, in a loft above a barn. It’s so beautiful here. I have attracted good people to me because it’s what I know I deserve. I have attracted beautiful places to me because it’s what I went looking for.
I feel humbled, grateful and like I am more in control of my mind. I have chosen to exhale fear, and to inhale love and joy. I get to control my mind. I choose.
Every breath is a chance to start fresh, and it doesn’t matter what happened in a past breath because it is already gone, and the future breath doesn’t matter either. It’s being here, now, breathing right into what I have in front of me. And what I have in front of me right now is mountains and fog and wind whispering through the waving trees. It’s a spotty banana peel and a dog, named Scout. It’s new friends from Australia and California and Venezuela and Mexico. It’s a plane coming to get me this afternoon with another new friend, who’s helping me and my bike cross the state into where we need to be. It’s Madi’s messages, it’s poems and writing words that flow easily like paint. It’s breakfast in the sun; it’s remembering to have fun.
27th August day twenty three
Whoops so yesterday was the first day of the trip that I didn’t write! Ah well, one day is fine to skip. I’ll see how I go at Burning Man it will depend on if there’s somewhere where I can store my computer, and get it in and out to type, out of the dust. Most likely not. But it would be really cool to keep track of what goes on in there, just because I feel like at the end everything merges in to one and so many little moments can become a blur.
So Mark did come and get me in the Plane, we tried for Garberville airport but it was closed due to smoke. The next closest airport on the coast was closed due to fog. I stuck my thumb out on the freeway entrance and hitched a lift to Willits airport, about a two hour drive south. The lady who picked me up, Mo, lived right beside the airport. I am so glad that I met her. She was a native American, a strong woman with a strong mind. She really impacted me. I didn’t interview her but I wish that I recorded our conversation while we drove. I love when an interaction becomes deep, real and true almost instantaneously with a stranger. She talked of ‘thought bombs’, when a thought goes off in your mind and blows everything up, and how to deal with it. She talked of healing from her relationship with her mother, and her piece of shit step dad. She talked of raising her son with her girlfriend, and how she was both a teaching and learning.
I met Mark at the airport, we disassembled the bike and loaded it into the Maule. It was an amazing flight, hazy sky over mountains and ocean to the east. Mark let me fly once we were up there, it took a little to get used to the feeling of the wind beneath the steering handles and the foot peddles. Once he said that I was doing too well, and he was like well what would you do now, and pulled the nose of the plane up and veered to the left. It was hard to get it back on course! We flew close to a mountain look out, and passed the Golden Gate Bridge poking it’s red tip out of a blanket of cloud. We passed clouds spilling over the edge of hills, a waterfall from above. I felt giddy with how perfectly life can work out when you just allow it to.
So here I am at Michaels house south of San Francisco. Yesterday Mark went flying and I stayed with Michael. We visited his office where he designs his shoes, and went to a rooftop pool to meet his friends for lunch and many, many margaritas. My day became a blur, and I came home and napped in the hammock. I woke up sweaty and disorientated at about six, and walked down to the lake for a swim to try and shake my scattered head.
Michael showed me his favourite band last night, The The. The lyrics are beautiful poetry and Michael was right, the singer sings with such conviction it’s really beautiful. I think I may have found a new favourite band too.
Today is my last day of reality for a while, tomorrow morning early Mark is going to fly me towards the desert. There isn’t an airstrip that is open to the public, so we google earthed last night and found a road that has a dirt strip beside it. “I’d have to land after that road sign” – he said, “It’s a little sketchy, but I’ll get you there”. And then I will ride the last 28 miles in. Yahooo.