What you want V’s What I want

Ever wake up with great intent to achieve?

Your focus is laser-sharp and with that narrow intense focus. Maybe today your ability to get things done smoothly and enjoyable seems to be a challenge?  Even though you have the best intentions. 

I have a theory, and I am no academic or researcher of such problems in life, just an avid observer.

Even if you live in a small town of 100 people or a large city of 1 million people, your plans for the day will cross paths with another persons plans. And that conflict, even if it’s not actual interaction with the person, can cause us to react in a certain manner.

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For example, the other day I was riding my bike along the river, on a wiggly bit of path that had limited vision through the corners. You certainly wouldn’t ride 2 abreast or have your dog off the lead in this area. I was riding with a pre-emptive awareness, as I did not want to have an altercation and knew that many path users lost all ability to consider other users.

Yes, I was probably a little on the defensive side, and rightly so.

As expected, I am riding along on the left side of of the path as you do in Australia and a pack of Bicycle User Group (Buggers) riders are coming straight at me, 2 ‘freaking’ abreast, pushing me off the path into the dirt.  Not one of them said sorry, though they did call back to the 10 deep group behind them that there was a rider up.

Sorry BUGGERS, this is not the place, and never will be the place to do your ‘social’ riding in such selfish formation. At that moment, I was so furious I could say nothing as words did not form, and lots of F & C words would have blurted out instead. I rode away from the experience with tense shoulders and a frown on my face, angry again at the types of selfish users that I see on ‘shared user’ paths.

And then I said to myself, “Let it go.”

My shoulders relaxed, and I took a deep breath in and released it with all my shitty thoughts in my head.  Who am I to be angry? Perhaps I was the person they needed to nearly hit in order to single up and change their riding style? Perhaps they didn’t even bat an eyelid? My choice of how I handled this would propel me into the next phase of my day with a more relaxed approach, allowing me to to be open to solutions and opportunities rather than searching for things or people to be shitty about.

I cannot change the views or impose my expectations on others.  The more I do the less likely they will listen anyway.  If you make a mistake on the road and some driver behind you honks their horn aggressively it doesn’t make you more conscientious about never doing that again, it transfers their anger into you and if you don’t get at least a bit cranky too, you certainly have a moment of anxiety. 

Proving you’re right or proving they’re wrong does nothing for moving good energy onwards and forwards in our days.

Whilst I speak of this concept as my responsibility to manage the way I digest the behaviour of others that I feel is not acceptable, I write this piece now to have you think about how your daily desires to tick your boxes may impact others. Especially now, here in Victoria Australia with COVID-19 cases hitting a surging second wave.  Overall anxiety levels are up and interest in our own needs being met first.  We are all just trying to make sure we are ok, we get what we need, and that our family is safe. Basic survival really.

It is human nature to have our needs meet, think about when you do a First Aid course, it is always drilled into you about making sure you are safe and are not in any harm before you can even start to help.

Some other examples of what I want in comparison to what you want and how we both enter into the same platform with our own needs and goals, yet we don’t for one moment think about how this impacts the other person or people in this environment.

Let’s say you are walking your dog off the lead in a park, and you think, “my dog is fine, he loves other dogs and is so good with kids and wouldn’t harm a fly.”
This may well be true and in your experience, your mate Buster is a dream doggo and has a squeaky clean history.

But...what about the other people in the park? Is that mum with a child freaking out because of her bad experiences or maybe her child has been attacked, or you just do not know what other people are bringing with them to your ‘harmless’ situation.

Here is another example, which is a bit of a bugbear, and that is when riding my bike, on a virtual platform or in the real world, when I roll out SOLO, by myself, that is what I want. I have planned to ride by myself and if I wanted to ride with someone else I would ask, or set up a meetup, or join a social ride on either platform.

My desire as I do this is to have some ‘me’ time, and get lost in my thoughts and have a pure focus on listening to my breath, getting a smooth pedal stroke and zenning out to the act of riding.  I have no idea what the goals of other riders are out on their own and I don’t care.

Should I care? I have been told that my attitude stinks and is selfish and that maybe other people are looking for riding buddies.  In my mind, they are just looking for a wheel to sit on so they get a free ride for a bit.

The drafting, sitting on a strangers wheel, uninvited is a weird one.  Virtually on Zwift or in real life, what gives the individual the right to sit on my wheel? It’s not a race, they are not my friend and if it was me running on a path, or driving my car or walking in a shopping centre, I would be freaking out.

So is this then my issue? Why do I have trouble understanding What They Want?  And is often communicated to me,

“Jess, why do you let it bother you?”

Well, it’s like another example I will share with you. When was the last time you walked along with one of those shared pathways, with walkers, joggers, mums and prams, kids on scooters and dogs off leads and a few bikes thrown in? I have been riding a fair chunk of path lately and I have a bell that I freely use. There are no speed records on paths so I am not trying for that, I just want mutual consideration. 

The other users might be walking 3-4 abreast chatting about all the fun stuff in life and they are so engrossed in their conversations it’s admirable.  Friends, outdoors, loving life and walking. Good work humans!   But when did they lose touch with their surroundings and the shared path ideal? The person walking their dog off the lead, on a busy shared path and causes chaos and near misses, then says they are sorry?   

When this happens, my faith in us as humanity disintegrates a few per cent and I get a little cranky. We are all capable of moments like this.

None of us can say we are perfect.

We do have the right to look after our own needs first.

However, IF we all just took a deep breath, and realised that there is another side of the fence we maybe not be seeing or fully understand, or that maybe our actions are a little selfish and whoops, we forgot we were sharing this world with others who had their own dreams and goals and desires today.

Just maybe we could have more empathy, compassion and tolerance of others.

And then we can let go of our moments of anger and frustration and send forward more good vibes forgiveness and understanding.
Which might mean those busy shared paths, literally and figuratively, are more enjoyable to use and we don’t dread the interactions we will have along the way.

I wrote this today as a reminder to myself, to embrace all the things I am asking you to as well.
Let’s do this, especially now, in these times of uncertainty, it can’t get any worse if we try!