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  • Felice Cohen

Red, White and Black & Blue

With the Fourth of July holiday behind us, my parents’ house is quiet once again, our many guests having stripped their sheets, loaded their cars, and headed home.

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So it was nice to wake up Monday morning without the urgency to wrestle the troops at 7AM for a bike ride as I’d done all weekend. No multitasking to fill water bottles, make peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and secure bikes onto cars. I had enjoyed every moment of their visit, but being “camp counselor” comes with responsibilities. Whilst the troops are cycling along the canal, enjoying the scenery, I was thinking, “What will we make for lunch? Will they want to go to the beach? Are there enough clean towels? Should I buy more corn for dinner?”

Now I had the morning to ride without those thoughts. And as I was putting on my bike shoes, a woman parked next me, also gearing up for a ride said, “Beautiful day.”

“Yes,” I said.

“I love it out here, it’s my meditation,” the woman said. “It’s my present moment focus. That’s why I don’t wear a helmet.”

“Wait.” I looked at her. “Why don’t you wear a helmet?”

“It interferes with my thoughts. A friend of mine recently fell and punctured a lung and broke a wrist,” she said, adding, “because he lost track of his present moment focus.”

“Or maybe a car door got in his way,” I offered.

She shrugged. “People use present moment focus for pain management, too. But if you truly focus on being present in the moment, you shouldn’t need a helmet.”


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As the woman pedaled away, I looked at my helmet. Should I test out her theory for my 25-mile ride and see if this expanded polystyrene hat really interferes with my appreciation of the breeze coming off the water, the sights of cranes diving for fish or the pungent aroma of salty air tickling my nose? Will the peace of mind I usually leave with, be twofold?


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