I think I finally understand why Ben enjoys endurance biking. My husband, Ben, has been training the last few months for a bike race that will be 100 miles…up and down mountains (gorgeous views of the Pacific ocean and California coast)…with roughly 1,000 other road bikers. Personally, all this time, I haven’t really understood his desire to do this. I intellectually understand he has a joy for riding. He freely admits to being a tinkerer and has very nearly stripped down the entire bike to the frame and has built it back up with new and used parts so that it perfectly fits him. He just loves it, even if he comes back from a training tired, dirty and sore.
The amount of physical effort that he has put into this venture is immense and I applaud him for it – I just don’t understand it! Until now, at least.
Now, before I tell you what my enlightenment experience was, please promise not to laugh too loudly.
Yes, I have joined the bell choir at our church. Basically the bell choir is the adult choir (which I also sing with), but with bells. (We aren’t quite this awesome…).
Some backstory on me may help clarify. I love music. I have always been a musical person, enjoying singing and playing music as well as dancing. I played clarinet in grade school, taught myself piano with my mom’s piano books, and fiddle with guitar and the Irish tin whistle. I have had some vocal training and have sang in choirs for a number of years. I also was a music director in college for Mass.
I have encountered a number of challenges in my musical “career” of course. But lately, I haven’t had any. I’ve been intellectually challenged in my graduate studies. I’ve been physically challenged with keeping up with my kiddos. I’ve been emotionally challenged in discerning decisions about my work and whether or not to move on from a position. Life has been good and the challenges have been good. Challenges cause us to grow and stretch in ways we had not before. Bell choir, believe it or not, showed me I haven’t been stretched musically in a while.
It was hard! Laugh all you want, it was. I can read music and when I was presented with “Away in a Manger” and two bells (technically 3, but one I only have to play once so it doesn’t really count), I truly (lots of pride at play here, not proud of this moment) thought – well this will be easy. Surprise to me – it wasn’t! What was even more exciting to me, which I realized as I was driving home, was that I liked that it was hard. It was a true challenge. I was missing notes, I was holding notes longer than I should, I was spastic, it was hysterical – and I loved it! I was sad we only did the one song, I wanted to play more. I couldn’t believe it had been 45 minutes, I wanted to stay longer. It was like an adrenaline rush.
On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about how completely absorbing bell choir had been. It was like a piece of my passion had been unlocked and was finally free to express itself. As I drove, I was struck with the thought that “this must be why Ben enjoys biking so much.” It’s hard, but it makes you expand and grow in new ways. I finally felt like I understood better his reasons for biking in a way I had not before.
God has given all of us gifts and talents. It is our job to cultivate them, grow them, and share them. Sometimes, we are fortunate to find careers that challenge our passions. Sometimes, we are able to make practical hobbies out of passions. And sometimes, our passions are put on hold for any number of reasons. It was an incredible feeling to tap into that part of me and to really push myself in a way I haven’t done in a long time. It felt good and I’m excited to go back. I don’t like all challenges, but this one I’m thrilled to tackle.