Hop On and Ride

Rob loved going to the gym. Me, not so much. I’m all for exercise, mind you. But I’ve always needed to feel like I was getting somewhere. Canoe for an afternoon? Bike 20 miles on the rail trail? Sign me up! Climb on one of those Jacob’s ladder machines in a fluorescent-lit room? Who am I, Sisyphus?

I’ve only ever wanted exercise to feel organic, spontaneous, and outdoorsy. I pity the hamster on his wheel. But after @mollrob died, I decided that I needed to take better care of my body. I’d given up eating brownies for breakfast a few years ago after a sobering cardiologist visit, and exercise was the next area where I needed to wise up. Cold weather was closing in, so I bought a stationary bike. Talk about futile labor! A bike that literally just spins its wheels!

For the last five and half months, this little bike and I have become besties, and I feel sort of badly that I maligned manufactured exercise like this so long. I’ve read a bunch of books while riding; and when I dragged my kids out for our New Year’s Day hike, I didn’t huff and puff the whole way through the snow. What felt like repetitive, mundane labor actually produced something worthwhile — a mentally and physically healthier me.

Grief, like riding my bike, often feels like just spinning wheels. The same feelings day in and day out with what feels like so little progress. It is said that grief is just love without the object present. Wow. That sounds like futile labor.

And yet, it’s not. When I engage grief, even when it feels like spinning wheels, I am working toward a healthier “me.” A person who can learn to love in the face of loss. A person who develops resilience. A person whose heart is more attuned to the pain in others’ stories.

Some days, I just want to stay in bed, pull the covers over my head, and forget all of this ever happened. My trusty bike reminds me that hiding is the real futile labor. If I want to make progress, I need to hop on and ride.

Published by Clarissa Moll

Discovering grace in grief

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