SOLVING THE PROBLEM

…before we know what it is.

Yesterday, I went for a 6.5 mile bike ride. Took about 29 minutes. Nearly two thirds of the way through, I heard a strange noise coming from my gears. I looked down, going 10 mph, and tried to decipher the problem. But the gears were still changing fine. The chain was still catching. So I kept riding, satisfied that I’d figure it out when I got home. While I continued, however, I began to imagine the potential problem:

  • broken bike stand
  • bent derailure
  • bent gear wheel
  • some other unusual problem that I wouldn’t be able to figure out

I need a new bike, I thought. I need a new $300 dollar bike. One with arm rests on the front for the long stretch of flat road, good gears, lightweight. I can’t keep riding this old thing (we’d got it from a bike tech friend who’d snatched it off of craigslist to repair and resell).

At the next light, I finally decided to check out what the strange noise was. When I finally discovered what it was, I felt sheepish. My rear reflector had come loose and was bouncing against the tire. I finger tightened the bolt and kept going.

I admonished myself that while I was busy buying fancy new bikes in my head, solving a problem I didn’t have, I was about to lose my protection. So often that’s true in life: we imagine that behind the symptoms we experience there’s a huge problem that needs to be solved; and while we’re busy cogitating on how to solve that problem, our defenses are down.

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