Before I posted my last piece about the Australian road rage incident, I faced a dilemma; should I post the story or not. Most times, I shy away from posting negative articles.
However, I decided to go ahead, because I knew others would run with the story anyway. I felt that bringing a story like this, involving high profile riders, to public attention might cause others to think twice about the seriousness of doing something similar.
It was never my intention to strike fear into cyclists. Fear is one of the basic instincts we share with all creatures of this earth. Fear of death or injury ensures survival of the various species.
Politicians and the media play on this primal instinct to benefit their own ends, with negative advertising and negative reporting. However, I see a difference between reporting something that actually happened, as opposed to discussing what could happen. The media does this all too often.
Do you remember Y2K and how all kinds of terrible things would happen at the stroke of midnight on January 1st. 2000. That time and date came and went and nothing happened, and the media moved on to find other items to scare us.
Whatever happened to the Bird Flu? Did it suddenly disappear, or did they find a miracle cure? Because a few short years ago we were all going to catch this terrible disease, old people and children would die from it. It was spread by birds and mosquitoes, those little critters are everywhere.
I quit watching the news on TV because it is so negative and depressing, and the terrible thing is it is not news. At worst, it is fiction; at its best, it is irrelevant issues grossly exaggerated and blown out of all proportion.
I get the news I need from the Internet; and I often see the same negativity there; however, I can be selective in what I read.
The problem is, being constantly fed a diet of fear and negativity; it creeps into people's lives and their everyday thinking. We speculate on the worst that could happen.
I see it on the various bike forums and blogs, where cyclists recall the near misses, and their run-ins with aggressive drivers. The problem is, the person posting is re-living the event, and causing others to re-live their bad experiences. We cannot erase bad events that have happened in the past, but we can learn from them and move on.
Is it any wonder that some, who would ride a bike, are afraid to ride on the road? A person might wonder why anyone rides there at all, if it is that bad. The truth is it is not that bad, if you look at the situation from a more positive viewpoint.
A few years ago, lived a wise and holy man from India named Sri Nisargadatta. During the 1970s he gave interviews with anyone who cared to sit with him and ask questions. These interviews were recorded, then translated into English, and published in a book called “I am that.”
Many times throughout the book he is asked, “How do you feel about all the wars, death and destruction around the world, and what about all the disease and suffering?" He would always answer, “This is in your world, not mine.”
On the surface this seems a somewhat uncaring attitude, however, I can understand this answer, having just read an online post by a cyclist. The writer asks why the hatred from other road users, why do they scream abuse at him, throw trash at him, and try to run him off the road?
The cyclist is from another state in the south, not far from South Carolina where I live. How different can drivers be, between the two states? Yet none of these terrible experiences he relates, ever happen to me. Like Sri Nisargadatta I could answer, “This is in your world, not mine."
The difference is, when I set out for a bike ride I do so with a positive attitude and I am not expecting the worst will happen. I go riding with the attitude that most people on the road a simply a cross section of the population and for the most part are inherently, good, decent people. Only a tiny minority are criminally inclined, and malicious.
We all know that many drivers are inattentive, however, they are not inattentive 100% of the time, so the chances of them being distracted at the precise moment they pass me is remote. In other words, the odds of my not being hit are far greater than being hit, so why should I dwell on the thought that that a slight possibility might occur.
Most successful people believe in the power of positive thinking; the problem is negative thoughts are just as powerful. We attract to ourselves whatever we hold in our thoughts. A person riding a bike with the attitude that all drivers are morons will attract the behavior they expect.
It is natural to have negative thoughts and to fear the worst, not only are we bombarded with negativity from the media, we get it constantly from work colleagues and those around us; plus as previously mentioned, fear is a basic instinct.
However, as humans we are capable of rationalizing, and do not need to live our lives in constant fear. We are all freethinking spirits and we do not have to dwell on the negative.
Something else I have learned; the things that annoy me as I go through life have a tendency to keep repeating. I try to recognize these re-occurring annoyances, observe them as such, but try not to get angry. After doing this a few times, the annoyance stops re-occurring.
If bad experiences are happening to you every time you ride, realize these bad incidents involve different people. The only common denominator in these totally random incidents is you.
There is a tendency to find whatever we look for. If we look for the worst in people, this is most likely what we will find. Turn that around and realize that there are more good people in this world than bad.
I try to fill my mind with good positive thoughts before I even set out on a ride; I have no control over the thoughts and actions of others, only those of my own.
I don't worry if negative thoughts slip back in, because I know they will. I am conscious of these thoughts and replace them with a positive one. A positive thought will always cancel out a negative one, as surely as light will overcome darkness, and good will overcome bad.
If you are skeptical, try it anyway; what have you got to lose? Just your bad experiences.