Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mere Chris-tianity

"Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable."
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Cycling these days is metaphysics.

I don't mean that riding or even racing or necessarily watching bike racing has somehow become a spiritual or philosophical thing.  I mean that uncertainty about meaning--explanations for what happens in bike races--drives us.

The stories we read are no longer a recounting of events, a narrative.  They are now discourses on unseen dark arts, a reaching for truth.

This has its down side.  Doping is an interesting topic, but it's not nearly as interesting as riding a bike.  Contention drives it, however, and, for some reason, we're drawn to contention in what we read and watch on TV.

Among the comments in response to my previous post are references to "holy writ" and "preachers," "people have strong beliefs," "only blind idiots will say that he's clean," and "cycling is going through a hard time and just when it seems to redeem itself..."

Metaphysical language seems to fit.  For instance, C.S. Lewis' trilemma was posed of Christ, but it also works with the Chrises (Horner and Froome):  they are all either liars, lunatics, or Lords (of cycling, in the case of Horner and Froome).

We now live in the age of anxiety:  our roads are full of forks.  We cannot simply be fans anymore, following a story; we instead choose between stories--rightly or wrongfully accused, all stand accused.

And we are all judges, whether we want to be or not.

"Truth," said William James, "is something that happens to an idea."

We who train and race should know this happening.  The flux of form and results we endure, the tiny bike races that dot the long race of our careers, and the unwanted but inevitable finish line that snuffs out our existence--all are process, smaller movements inside larger ones.  We never lose, we never win.

None of this metaphysical talk is as interesting as throwing your leg over a bike and going for a spin, though.  I'd say the same to those obsessed with the question of faith; pondering your own chosen metaphysical narrative is not nearly as interesting as life itself.

The world throws up many stories to us, presenting us scenes in which we may and should see ourselves: in this car, drinking this tequila, joining with this mate, even riding this bike.  It is hard to escape these.

When I ride, I feel as if I'm in a real story, that I don't have to choose to believe what's happening.  The road is in front of me, and I follow it.  I'm not in a advertisement.  I'm not a part of a metaphysical debate. I don't face a trilemma about some guy I've never met.

Riding a bike, the choices quiet and instead, I am only breathing, going, thinking.  I follow the only road there is--the one under my wheels.

3 comments:

dj cyclone said...

Testify Papps! Solid discourse. The intersection of action and thought. Can we navigate harmoniously or does it navigate us. Who's to say. Does going faster clarify. Or slower. Yes for some no for others. Or.. Does the scenery dictate. Glimpses and glances we ride for the center...

Titanium said...

I'm keeping this one alive. To read and re-read. After I throw a leg over the bike and. just. ride.

Thank you for this.

heidi said...

Wonderful piece. Thanks.