I get these ideas when I am riding my bicycle. Riding my bicycle is not the only time I get ideas. I mean, I also get ideas when I am in between being asleep and awake. This may sound strange but I have made a lot of decisions in this state. Very serious decisions. I think of that state as my subconscious mind. However, the difference between having ideas as I ride on my bicycle and having ideas in my asleep-awake state is that the ideas come more forcefully. There is precision. It’s like I have a saw in my hand, and I am trimming all the thoughts flowing through my head. Telling myself, hey this is plausible, and this does not make sense.
This is how I had these ideas about becoming.
I ride my bicycle to school. It’s an old blue bicycle that’s pretty high up. I hardly wash it. In the morning I just clean the seat and the steer, and any part that appears too dirty. The truth is, it hardly gets dirty. I usually leave the house at 6:45 am. I enter the main road from our lane. The road is riddled with so many potholes you couldn’t count. Come to think of it, I once wrote a story about how I loved my bicycle and I wrote about the potholes on the roads. Potholes are becoming a sort of imagery I use too many times. I’ve got to check that.
As I ride on the main road at this time, I see the traffic jam and I am glad I am on bicycle. I get to save time and I don’t have to give money to any trotro driver. Sometimes I ride wearing a cap. I never wear a helmet. I know it’s dangerous not to wear one but I don’t think I am buying a helmet soon. It’s one of those things that you know doesn’t make sense but you do anyway. An example comes to mind, I think it’s just like smoking. So maybe I also need a vice in my life. No helmet. I don’t always wear a cap either. I said sometimes I wear it. Truth is, I wear it when the sun is really hot and scorching like mad. I mean, sometimes in the morning you get the feeling the sun had a fight with his wife the previous night so it’s unleashing all its fury on us. These days I don’t crop my head so short so it feels real good when the wind blows through it as I ride fast.
It’s in times like these that ideas come to me. I mean when the wind is blowing through my hair and it feels so good. Especially when I am riding down a hill. In times like that I sometimes take my hands off the steer. I mean, it’s not a very wise thing to do: to take your hands off the steer. You see, when I fall I can lose all my teeth on the damn roads but I do it anyway. So as I said I begin to get ideas. One idea that’s been hitting me really hard is the idea of becoming. I know you are thinking, what is this becoming that you keep mentioning? If it’s such an important thing why don’t you get right into it, but you start telling us about your bicycle and other things we are just not interested in. I just felt you should get the context. The context might help you appreciate the idea better. Besides, it’s better to share an idea in the form of a story. They stay longer.
I say becoming to mean the act of transforming oneself into his or her best. It means to change into a person you respect. It means to pursue goals you think are worthy of pursuit. Becoming is not an outward manifestation but it is something that happens inside you. To become what and who you want to be, although might mean having acquired some physical objects, that is not the ultimate thing in my opinion. The act of concentrating on becoming means to love the process of change and pursuit of goals itself. Although physical objects can be taken away from you, who you become in that process of acquiring those physical objects cannot be taken away from you. If you were a monster in acquiring those things, you will have to live with the consequences of turning into a beast. If you were honorable in your acquisitions, you live with that self-esteem.
Concentrating on becoming means to exercise a great deal of patience. Because good things do not come easy. The miracle of transforming oneself into something greater also happens eventually. It means focusing on polishing each single act that goes into achieving overall goals. I think the reason why I thought of writing about the importance of thinking about who we will become instead of the physical things we acquire is that life is serious business. I see people who get disappointed because they had this vision of how their lives should turn out, and it did not happen that way. No one has control over results. What we have control over is what we do to achieve those results. So if you have a goal you think is worth pursuing, it is better to concentrate on things you can do to achieve those goals than worry about the reality of not achieving those goals. Having the mindset of becoming, you will pursue the goals not because you are guaranteed of success but you know that pursuing those goals in themselves make you a better person. You could learn things that do not work. You can learn how to stare failure in the face. That is a great leap from where you would have started from, and that is success if you ask me.
The most important reason why I think we should all focus on who we become rather than anything else is that it gives us a long term perspective. How will this decision I make change me? What kind of person would I become? Concentrating on becoming helps us to avoid regrets.
I’ve been talking a lot in this really abstract way about becoming. But it’s nothing abstract at all. You know what Pirsig did with his motorcycle in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I plan to do something like that with my bicycle. I injured myself before I learnt how to ride a bicycle. But it did not take a long time for me to be good enough. It’s not because I am smart. My only strength is a good conceptual memory. But I was able to learn it because I accepted the fact that I could fail in my attempts to learn, but I had faith that I would become a pro eventually. That’s what becoming is all about. The long-term view point. Having faith and embracing all that happens, and permitting the change that is going on inside.
Honestly, I think we all need to reconsider our needs. Stick to the basic needs. All you need is food and shelter. All the other things are secondary. I don’t mean you should not have overarching goals: life has no meaning without them. I feel we should have them but make our most pressing needs clear to ourselves- that what we really need is food and shelter and may be some love. I think it is important that we have this clarity because most people put these pressures on themselves that are self-inflicted. Instead of pursuing those goals that feel us with awe we give ourselves headaches about getting a new dress, phone, car… Most of the time, it’s to impress people we don’t even like. It’s such a f**ked up system!
I am tired right now. In all, I ride about an hour and half each day. I feel sweat tracing a path along my back, but I continue riding. I think of who I am becoming on this bicycle. I think about what if I keep riding this bicycle for all my life. I mean like I never own a car. Sometimes I think people acquire things as status symbols, not because they really need it. I mean, think about the guy whose house is very close to his business but drives to work. He could just walk, but he want us to know he owns a car. But hey whether car or no car, I have my bicycle right now, and I love it! And I think I will be glad to ride it forever!
God be with you till we meet again!