One day on my regular commute by bicycle, heading home after work, I stopped at a robot (traffic light) and waited for green.
Are you still with me? I promise this isn’t about road rage or the equal rights of those that commute by bicycle.
I can’t remember now whether I moved off early without making sure there weren’t any cars still coming or what exactly happened but I realised I had made a mistake and instead of turning my head to look at the car I felt my eyes do a sort of embarrassed sideways glance in it’s direction and proceeding in front of it anyway like a dog running blindly with tail between legs, clenching my bum and pumping my legs in the hopes that my back wheel would get past the front of the car in time.
What I should have done was given the consequence of my dumb action the eyeball and looked fear and embarrassment straight in the headlights.
If I had turned my head to look at the metal beast that seemed to be careering towards me I would have known for a fact whether this manoeuvre was safely possible or not. Then I would’ve been able to have stopped in time to not have been in his way and not have thought I just had to close my eyes and carry on.
I’m not averse to a well-calculated risk (although sometimes I wonder whether choosing to commute by bike in Cape Town isn’t just another “dumb way to die”) however, this didn’t seem to be calculated to me.
It was more like an oh-my-goooorsh-i-shouldn’t-have-done-that-oh-well-i-better-just-keep-going-and-maybe-noone-has-noticed-and-nothing-bad-will-happen kind of risk.
This got me thinking about other less physical but more mentally harmful ways in which we might tend to avoid looking the consequences of our actions in the eyeball and what effect that kind of reaction has on us being able to handle the resulting situation in the best possible way.
There have been many times in my life I’ve pretended to not have noticed/not have received/not have heard something for fear of having to actually deal with what I imagine that thing to be. But if I were to look the thing in the eye and see it for what it really is in all it’s difficult/inconvenient/gory glory and take responsibility for it, facing it head-on, I would most likely discover the following:
a) It is not anything I imagined it to be
b) The solution is clear and simple
c) I would not spend much time, energy or brain space overthinking about what should/could have been done/happened
d) I really like sauerkraut
If you would rather have been reading about the rights of bicycle commuters please go here
Feel free to share your risk-taking stories in a comment below.
Random thoughts are welcome too.
Peace and paws out