The sun's rays obscured the road as I turned uphill on Coalton Road from the rotary at 25 miles per hour. I knew the direction I needed to travel yet the early morning fire in the sky made seeing the path difficult at best. Head down, standing in the saddle, I churned the pedals like pistons in my highest gear, gaining momentum as I climbed the percent grade. My thighs burned. I have grown to love the awaiting challenge of the hills. It's become narcotic. Work the hills in order to enjoy the wind in your face on the other side, the downhill side.....
And then it hit me. The metaphor for how we live our lives. The sun, like the clouded future that lies before us, obscures the path we are often on. Even with our feet, or our bicycle tires, firmly on the pavement or ground we are often unable to understand and comprehend that which lies in our future. The uphill struggles are tests which prepare us for the moment when we win the summit or find our way through the tangle of our life's maze. Traveling towards our goals and pinnacles may burn, hurt, amaze, conflict, confound and otherwise test all our emotions and physical abilities. Getting there brings the gift of pleasure, victory, and satisfaction. In any language or thought the physical victories feel the same. How we process these thoughts defines our creed.
My Western Zen mind and pseudo-Jack Kerouac thoughts come to me at the moment I crest the hill and begin the early Sunday morning ride into my hometown. Filled with a new sense of purpose the road is clear of any traffic and my mind is clear of the reasons and need to write my thoughts, if only to capture them in a more permanent place.
My mind changes gears to the culinary world. Students and young culinarians need the safety and security of instructors and mentors-as-training-wheels whilst they teeter through the basics of food science, preparation and technique. Once stable they can maneuver themselves into the pelaton of the kitchen, the line, the all-day production brigade. Once competent they may be able to join the tour of elite and lithe spirits that dominate our world. You must be in the thick of the maelstrom to truly understand and appreciate top-notch chefs and cuisiniers.
Using the metaphor once again - Embrace what challenges you. Enter the challenge fearlessly. Learn through failure and victory. Rise up and face the next challenge. Today a new hill rises...
The 'Bicycling Frog' is by Catherine Cleary, a profound artist friend who lives and works in Colorado. I adpoted the frog as mascot for The French Manner... Merci, Catherine!