High Winds in The Forecast
This morning I woke up with all intentions of riding, but when I looked at the weather forecast, I saw that the winds were blowing 16-18 mph out of the west. From where we are located here near Panama City, the only safe and logical direction for me to ride is toward the east, which means that I would have a headwind on my return ride. I spent several minutes wondering if I even wanted to ride, after all, riding into an 18 mph headwind is not particularly enjoyable. I then started thinking of ways I could still ride, but not have to face that headwind, so I came up with the idea that my wife could drive down the road 42 miles to one of her favorite beaches and we could meet there, that way I would have a tailwind the entire way. Sounded good to me. She said NO! She is a successful author, and is in the process of editing the next book in her series, and she loves the time alone without me around to bug her that she gets when I am riding. I understood, and despite knowing that I would have a stiff headwind, I knew that it was what I needed to do, so I got all geared up and set off on my planned 42 mile ride.
For me, riding isn’t just a way to feel free from my leg brace and get in shape, for me, riding is a way to clear the mind, and think a little more deeply about why I do the things I do, and how I can inspire others along the way. Today was no different, and as I turned around at the 21 mile mark and began riding into a very stiff wind, it didn’t take me long to realize the message in what was happening to me today. As soon as I felt that first big gust nearly bring me to a standstill I knew what I was going to write about today.
Life is a journey! Pretty profound right? Of course that is nothing new, but what I was able to see more clearly today thanks to the wind, is that our journey, that journey called life, is often hampered by headwind. We can be cruising right along, and then, out of the blue, something slows us down, and things like riding forward, aren’t as easy as they were just moments ago. My first inclination this morning was to not ride, not face the challenging headwind. This is no different to challenges in life, dealing with them can be difficult, and often our first thought during these challenges is to not want to deal with it, or at least, find an easy way around it, a way to ride with the wind. Riding with the wind is great, makes everything seem so easy, effortless. The problem is that where I really want to be is the other way, into the wind. Sure, eventually the wind might die down, or if I am really lucky, maybe it will change direction and be at my back both ways, but for now, today, the farther I ride, the farther away I take myself from my end goal. I ride away hoping that something I have no control over will change and make it easier to get to my goal.
This is where I realize that the fastest way to my goal is do the one thing I have control over, turning into the wind and continue moving toward my goal, getting back home today. Sure, it is going to take me a bit longer, and it is going to be more difficult, and sometimes, even painful, but no matter how long it takes, my goal will be closer with each passing pedal stroke! It is during these headwinds in life that we learn about ourselves, and what we are truly capable of. If I had chosen not to ride today, sure, I wouldn’t have had to face the wind, but I also would have wasted an opportunity to get my needed mileage, test myself, make myself stronger, and face a challenge. We all face headwinds, no matter how “great” our lives are, we all struggle against those gusts, and that difficult path to our end goal. I couldn’t help but think of a friend of mine, a young man who was in one of my units in the Air Force. He was cruising along, working hard, realizing his dreams, when suddenly, a gust of wind slowed him down; he lost his job. Since then, he has been facing a steady headwind, and despite the fact that he still hasn’t found a new job, he continues to put his head down and walk directly into the wind knowing that it is the only way toward his goal. I know that there have been times when he wanted to just find shelter until the wind died down, or maybe even asked himself if there was a way he could turn around and just let the wind take him farther away, but he knows that his goal, his reprieve from this current wind storm, lies ahead, into the wind. Luckily, he has great friends and family that help keep him moving forward, but his inner strength, and his powerful desire to succeed are his strengths.
We all know someone in our life that is facing headwind; could be loss of a job, loss of a loved one, an illness, an injury, an unexpected bill, and the list goes on. Sometimes, as we push against our own gusts, we forget that others are facing gusts too. I want to try and bring this back to a riding analogy, and at the same time get to my point. For anyone who rides, you know that when you have a good group of riders with you, they take turns “pulling” into the wind. For a short period, someone moves to the front of the line, and breaks the wind for everyone else. When that person starts to get tired, they move over (and go to the end of the line) and the next person in line takes a turn and the group keeps doing this until they reach their goal. The great thing about this is that when you are behind the leader, it is like riding without wind, your effort is reduced, you are able to recover a bit, and by the time it is your turn to be up front again you are able to withstand the force of the wind, even if it is only for a short time. Shouldn’t we use this same approach when facing the headwinds of life?
We all have and will face headwinds in our life. Some winds will be stronger than others, but they will all slow us down, even if only for a moment. Don’t be afraid to walk into the wind, don’t let the fear or discomfort of riding into the headwind keep you from taking the journey, the journey called life, the journey called discovery, the journey to your goals.