I agreed to go for a bike ride with my friend, Joe, a seasoned cyclist. I feel like a wreck waiting to happen when riding a bike. Completely disconnected from equilibrium.
“It’ll be fun,” he said…
Joe: “How are you feeling right now??”
Me: “Uh… like, what do you mean?”
Joe: “Like on a scale of one to ten, how are you feeling?”
Me: “Oh you mean like on a scale of one to ten, how much do I hate being asked to rate things on a scale of one to ten?? Yeah. Ok.”
I don’t know how this is supposed to feel, but it reminds me of that time I tried Crossfit. Cycling is a newish thing for me. I tried to think of something that I could relate to this experience… on a damn scale of one to ten. I remembered doing push-ups to failure for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test in our 7th grade P.E. class. I know what it feels like to do the same thing over and over until your entire body shakes uncontrollably and you will black out before your brain can tell your muscles to muscle up one… more… effing… push-up. “10” must mean “perceived as physically impossible,” so naturally, “1” could mean “absolutely no perceived effort.” Looking back I should’ve included “0” for a coma state or something truly metabolically “basal.”
But I didn’t think to include absolute zero. Because I’m not on my turf. I’m on a bike. Trying to stay on the road while dodging dogs, stray children, and gum balls. 10,000 gum balls. And I’m being asked to answer an analytical question by someone who is an “air sign” and won’t event appreciate all the details that I am obligated to sift through as an “earth sign.” They don’t understand how loaded that question even is.
Does multi-tasking feel like “fight or flight mode” to anyone besides me?
I scramble for a decent guesstimate because this is clearly my experienced cycling partner’s way of checking my vitals. Why else would he be going out of the way in the middle of riding a potentially volatile vehicle to engage in the equivalent of small talk? If I had taken my eyes off the road and craned my neck around to converse with my buddy about oh-how-are-you-today, I would swiftly be adrift in a ditch.
It must be direly important that I answer this question as accurately as I can manage.
Me: “I guess I’m like a 4.”
(My ego feels a little bruised at admitting I’m not pushing myself harder. Does “5” only equate to 50% effort? I should definitely be trying harder than a “5”)
“Maybe I’m like a 5. Yeah, I’m a 4 or a 5.”
(I can’t lie about this stuff… hangs heavy on my conscience.)
“But earlier I was totally a 6 or a 7!!”
(I worry about my partner thinking that I’m not being pushed… and my ego does NOT like the idea of being pushed. Let’s not let my partner think that now is the time to challenge me. Leisure is good. Just don’t look leisurely.)
My partner, the Air Sign, nods his head. He probably can’t even hear me and he’s just acting like he heard me and will forget he ever asked me this in about 5 seconds. I do that to people all the time (nod in affirmation but really don’t know what they said), because I literally get tired of misunderstanding people so often. My hearing is not the sharpest. It’s a real, chronic problem, and it’s me, not them. But I know my partner has way more sensitive hearing than me, so I am clenching the hoods ready to adjust to the new pace that my ego can’t walk away from and my true self couldn’t give a damn about.