Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Bicyclephant in the Room by Rukia author Margaret E Leigh #RPBP

The Bicyclephant in the Room

It’s nearly eight years to the day since I stood in that New Zealand bicycle shop choosing the least frightening-looking species of the genus. “Yes, this should get you across Europe,” the amused shop-owner assured me. But first it had to get me home, and I’d not ridden a bicycle since I was ten. I’d been rubbish at it even then.

So I wobbled a precarious the mile or two and parked my new purchase in the living room and tried hard to pretend it wasn’t there for the next month or so. It was hard to pretend it wasn’t there – that bicyclephant in the room - all black and silver and sparkly with newness, impossible to ignore, a terrifying reminder of just exactly what it was I planning to do.

So what was it exactly I was planning to do? Oh, that’s right, I’d had a moment of complete lunacy and had decided to cycle across Europe with a tent, all alone, in search of Utopia. But now the bicyclephant in the room was reminding me daily that what had started out as a project-in-thought had become a terrifying reality from which there was no escape.

Looking back, I don’t know where I found the courage to do it. But nothing I have experienced before or since can quite compare with the joy and the freedom I experienced during those months as a nomadic cyclist, relying on some sort of internal compass rather than any maps, travelling south through Europe in search of heaven on earth. I didn’t find Utopia of course, because it doesn’t exist. But I came close, very close. And one day I’ll try again. I’ll set off again, like Laurie Lee, one midsummer morning, with no idea where I’m going, with just the freedom of going….

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