I got myself organized first thing out of bed for a morning bike ride. Such is my life and my inclinations, the endeavor to ride required setting my mind the night before. It’s a wonder I got through the kitchen, or past the dog who gave me the accusing eye when I told her she had to stay home.
Then I was off! Imagine me–face into the cool breeze, the earthly beauty of the woods and fields on either side, the blacktop speeding beneath me. All around was a fresh summer morning abundant with sweet scents of mowed grass, pine trees, and the sun warming the soil of the fields beyond the trees. Quiet. No vehicle passed, and even the yard with the dogs that normally bark was silent. Suddenly a deer fly buzzed me, and I almost crashed as I batted at it, but saved myself and, laughing aloud, went into high gear to outdistance the creature. Sailing along with the thrill that I was actually riding, at my age, my body moving easily, and I was happy!
The question came: Why do I put off riding my bike when doing so is obviously good for me and my soul?
Life, of course. Life has necessities. Life has duty.
There are so many things yelling constantly for my attention. My needs, needs of others, and bills and taxes and growing grass and weeds and housekeeping and car repairs. Even my bike could use maintenance. The course of messy kitchen and good intentions that I had to navigate to get here to write this is a sort of gauntlet. I never should have stopped to make a cup of tea and toast, or answer the phone. I almost did not make it up the stairs to my keyboard.
Then, more quietly, the thought comes: Let me change what I can.
Let me consider what it is that gives me joy, and do more of that. Joy is of equal duty, because it is the joy that gives strength, that fills me and enables me to have something to give out to the world.
There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson