We’re all on machines of some sort, spin bikes or elliptical trainers or treadmills, moving, moving, moving, and though we ultimately don’t have full control over them, we forget that we do have some, and that trainers can’t possibly replace the real thing. We need our machines to survive, and they enable us to achieve wonderful and important goals, but they can be greedy, and take everything.
My own machine has recently been set to a steep incline and major resistance, and now makes frequent stops, at which time I have little choice but to rest. What I’ve noticed since these changes have been imposed is how little the other machines around me stop.
They go faster, and slower sometimes, but they rarely stop, except to permit a little mindless entertainment, a little refueling often done on the run, and a little sleep, usually too little.
It’s not bad being forced to stop more, just a little lonely. Sometimes, when I’ve slowed down and am focused on revitalizing my chemo-damaged mitochondria and DNA, taking the time to properly feed and rest and exercise the cells and atoms that comprise my self, I just want a listening ear, and those—with a few brilliantly shining exceptions—can be hard to find. Wonderful and caring but constantly in motion and exhausted people surround me, and I want to reach out and touch their foreheads for a moment, and remind them not to give it all to the machine, to reserve a little for themselves—to remember to do some yoga and deep-breathing, to read something that interests and nourishes them, and in turn, those around them.
Because, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson put it, and my brother, always deeply conscious but ever more so now in the wake of recent loss and bereavement, recently reminded me, “we are all connected; to each other, biologically; to the earth, chemically; to the rest of the universe, atomically.”
That’s what is real, not the machines.
If I’m empty and malnourished and have nothing fresh and vital to bring to our exchanges, and you don’t either, we will, eventually have fewer and fewer reasons to slow our machines, to reserve a little energy for more than mindless and numbing entertainment and sleepless nights.
It’s one of the reasons I’ve started blogging. This way, when I have something I’d like to say and nobody to say it to in that moment, it can just sit there and wait on the roadside for a fellow cycler’s moment of slowing and consciousness. I need a listening ear, and hopefully, even these moments of electronically shared consciousness can be mutually enriching and nurturing. Because when we live too many of our hours unconscious of our connection to the universe and to each other—when we’re too rushed to nurture ourselves and ensure we have something of value to bring to our exchanges, when we’re too tired and depressed to savour and enjoy and nourish each other—we stop really seeing each other, deeply understanding each other. And when that happens, we’ve stepped away from all that is real. And this reality, being here, now, doesn’t last forever.