These memories were planted in my mind a year ago, while on a trip to the Netherlands. And this is what they grew into:
The region of Drenthe is thought by many outsiders to be the huge strip of farmland where all old people retire to. Where they plant their old age and grow old and let others admire their ripe thoughts.
The bike is almost moving by itself and you feel slowly and steadily warmed by the sun, a peaceful sun, so you’re too happy to be a worrier.
The wind is blowing against the nape of your neck, and the almost invisible slope in the road makes your bike spin its wheels ever so slightly so that you don’t need to do a thing, or maybe you have to do the hardest of all things: sit still and take it all in, with no more questions.
Just after I had asked myself the question, the answer came to me: why does riding a bike give me such joy and peace? Because all you have to do is maintain balance and peddle away. Maintaining balance, back straight, chin up, looking ahead, focusing on that and on all you see. It is in these moments that you really live in the now, already sprouting from the road you are marking with your wheels.
The fields around me are of the deepest summer green, neatly trimmed and still, bathed in the friendly sun. Every now and then a spot of white disturbs the chromatic balance: a sheep grazing with its lambs nearby. Nobody in sight, just a farmhouse to the left, a yard and a conscientious dog, barking from behind a wired fence.
Several meters later I discover a tiny boy playing next to a canal, shyly looking away as I pass him.
The only sound is that of the wheel, echoing the rush of blood spinning through my body. Nothing more is needed, nothing less would do. Just the trees, the fields, the bike and myself. A self that I am relieved to find more at ease and cheerful than ever before.
But then a thought of tomorrows invades the silence and I have to battle it away. Let tomorrow become today in its own pace, I do not need to chase it into existence, for it has always abidingly come to me.
I wish you could see this now through my eyes. I’m sure they make everything more beautiful than it is, but that is the whole point: we all have a different pair of eyes and a different brain to filter the images, so we each see the bits of the world so differently and in such varied palettes of color. But I’d like you to see the yellow of the sun on the green smooth grass, the cotton shape of the sheep and the earth brown of the cows, the winding small grey road and the bike, moving almost by itself, with you just keeping balance on it.