Cycling to and from the station in the rush hour at the beginning and the end of the day for the first time in a while -I usually get a lift to work- made me realise that cycling isn’t always the life-enhancing experience that I like to think it is. In fact, cycling in heavy traffic can make me wish I was sitting on the bus instead.
These days, cycling has become an anxiety-provoking activity. As I wrote last week, I was nearly sent flying out of the saddle by an over-eager bus driver. But in general I have been finding the roads more a matter of jostling with the traffic, than gliding along feeling the rhythm and being at one with the bike.
The roads I have been cycling along have been the busiest thing in my life lately. These days I find it difficult to do anything at all. Even the thought of cycling heralds a a heaviness in my legs and a curious fear that I will not have sufficient energy to make it up the hill I live on, and have cycled up in all weathers for more than three years. Not only does everything feel as though it takes an herculean effort, but also when I’m feeling too sodden to do anything, it feels like boredom. I may not be able to concentrate on anything, but it’s beyond me to think of anything to do either. And this is an age-old issue of depression. In Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’, first published in 1621 he ended his encyclopaedia of the malaise with the following advice; ‘Be not idle’.
Here’s this weeks’ poetic offering:
And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.
Ezra Pound (1885-1972)