The test of time.
What is time? – the number displayed on our watch? – or is it the process of growing or ageing? Why can’t we control it? Ask it to slow down a little, or perhaps fast forward through the hard bits.
Time doesn’t feel like it’s on my side any more. I wish I was in my mid-twenties again, rather than my early thirties. But not in order to go back to that period of my life – no way, I love life as it is now – I just want to be a bit more youthful. I know I’m still relatively young, but I don’t like the lines around my eyes, mouth and on my forehead. Or my collection of scars. Or my wonky broken collar bones. And I notice the enamel on my teeth isn’t as translucent as it used to be. But mostly I have days where I wish to have back my beautiful long wavy blonde hair – the ultimate expression of youth and vitality – rather than this very short crop which was initially to solve alopecia after Meg was born. Perhaps, for me, time is linked to vanity. I try not to care, but the mirror is a visual representation that certain phrases like ‘the World is your oyster’ aren’t going to be directed at me any more. I’m not a child of the future. I have my own ‘child of the future’ now. It’s true that we often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone.
So, now I actively look to appreciate what I do have NOW. And with diminishing youth I have gained knowledge. I’m not talking about academia …I’m referring to life knowledge: the stuff we could really do with being taught while we are much younger, but perhaps that isn’t possible while we are too busy on the ride, being cool and setting trends (or more likely desperately following them). It’s only once this has gone and we are willing to meet the process of acceptance and letting go, that we can begin to appreciate what is left. The fundamentals.
We have found love, and lost people we love. We have pushed through experiences that terrify us, and made it to the other side. We have learnt that forgiveness is better for everyone, rather than harbouring resentment. We have experienced that positive thought brings a positive life, although most people still wont allow themselves to believe this. The opposite is also true. We know that watching a beautiful sunset can envelope us in calm and peace, and how important it is to feel this. We discover that our own life isn’t the most important, and we would gladly lay it down in order to preserve that of a son or daughter, if only we could.
Sometimes I wish I had discovered more when I was younger, like how wonderful it is to be a mother, but perhaps I wasn’t ready then? Or, perhaps it’s the process of becoming a parent that has changed everything? Or maybe falling in love with a man who understands me has allowed me to become me, rather than forever wandering in the no-mans-land of my younger years. This man has totally supported me to achieve selfish goals like my racing (including all the training involved for this), because he knows the satisfaction this can bring to an individual, and how this can shape or release us.
What would have happened if I had discovered racing earlier? Would I have been disciplined enough to train every day? Would I have had the confidence to even enter a race and compete …to put myself out there for all to see?
I like to believe that I really could have gone somewhere as a cyclist, if only I’d discovered a higher level of riding earlier. But I’d also have needed the life learning that I have now. Tests and results show I have a natural ability, a genetic gift, and being female would have placed me in a very small pool of competitors eight years ago.
Things are changing fast now and, as a result of more women discovering performance on a bike, the female field is becoming more competitive. The standard is rising and exciting times are here for younger female athletes who have access to development programs. I hope in the near future we will see dominant teams like sky selecting a mixed team for the grand tours, utilising strong light women to lead riders up the mountains. I personally feel this would be a better direction for female cycling, rather than holding a repeat, less celebrated, race for the women. I don’t see why we can’t reach the necessary standard, especially in endurance type events where it’s been scientifically proven for women to have an advantage.
So, the test of time. What is time? Should we never look back? Should we plan for the future?
Time for me is simply a man-made tool which is used for control and measure. It can be an irritation which encourages us to always be in a rush or leave us open to be described as idle. It certainly removes our natural instinct to enjoy the now. I can’t help chasing time, there never feels like enough. I want more time to play with Meg, to enjoy with my husband, more time to be able to get my work done, or to tidy the house. I need more sleep – that needs time, but before I know it my alarm is sounding for me to get up. Even on the bike I’m chasing it to the line. A new record. It’s a love:hate relationship! With time I am loosing my youth, but in return I’m gaining so much more: love, family, acceptance, peace, fitness and experience. It seems like a trade worth making so maybe I should look forward to having that extra candle on my birthday cake. There is so much more to learn still.