My Saturday plans were starting to crumble. The details aren’t important. After all plans crumble from time to time. And I can’t help be remember the line from Randy Pausch that you have to have a plan to change a plan. Well I had a plan. And now I had a choice. I could change my plan or I could wallow in a mix of self-pity and incredibly creative stories in which I play a pathetic, lonely lead. (My inner wallow comes with a flair for the overdramatic.)
After a brief flirtation with wallowing, I decided to change my plan. I created a brand spanking new plan which featured myself, my bike and the Lewiston Jazz Festival. And the new plan became more than a stop-gap. It became something truly exciting and wonderful.
My adventure began at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park, where I parked my car and took in the beautiful morning. Skies were blue. Lake Ontario was rolling along with breeze. I downed a Luna protein bar and did a final check of my backpack. Hydration? Check. Long-sleeved shirt? Check. Flip-flops? Check. Hairband? Check. Wallet? Check. And off I went on my route.
The route I chose was easy and pretty flat and once on it, I realized it was part of the century course for the Tour de Cure I did back in June. But without the rain, it looked much different. The sun was smiling on me and the temperatures were warm but not hot. If the crosswind stopped it would be perfect. This was certainly close enough.
This was not a training session but an adventure. And I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
I rode on Route 18 and made a turn to Route 18F which took me to Fort Niagara. Of course I stopped. Confession time: I love history. I geek out at local Western New York history especially and there is something about the buildings and grounds and stories of Fort Niagara which have always held a special place in my soul. I rode through the park and took in the water. I rode over to the old fort, peering at it through the iron gates, trying to remember details of the story of the headless soldier from the well in the French Castle.
My route continued through the village of Youngstown winding along toward Lewiston. The houses on the street are magnificent along with the trees and greenway. On my right was Lake Ontario, ever present to offer soul comforting views, the kind that make you effortlessly smile. I passed the entrance to Joseph Davis State Park. I’m not sure what’s there. My childhood memory is of going there once a summer and swimming a big old pool then having a picnic lunch. We always had a picnic lunch. (Note to self: Have more picnic lunches. They’re quite fun.)
Then came the large facility of Stella Niagara, a pared down version of a once thriving community of Franciscan nuns and their educational services. I was taken by a statue that was across the street from the large convent building. I got off my bike to look around for a plaque or marking or something to tell me what it was I was looking at. Because at first glance, it looked like just another statue of an angel. Take a moment to look at it, and the angel is, well, crushing the skull of a man. What exactly is going on here?
The beauty of art is in your interpretation so while there is likely some story or religious significance to the sculpture, I chose to think of it as my better angel taming my gremlin, the tricky voice in my head which encourages me to play small and safe in my own my life. I see her holding down the source of my negative thoughts so that I can go about the work I was meant to do. So that I could continue to laugh and play.
I rolled into the village of Lewiston just after noon. It was the annual Jazz Festival, a free two-day event with several official stages and more unofficial ones full of music and dancing with booths brimming with food and drink. I parked my bike through the kindness of a new friend (thanks Carl!), changed out my cycling cleats for flip-flops and wandered around the festival. Local restaurants offered some of their best fare and I chose a delectable smoked gouda shells and cheese from the Lewiston Village Pub for my refueling lunch. I grabbed an amber ale from the local Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company and headed over to the Orange Cat Coffee Co. for the main event of the bike ride — to see my friend, Jude, perform.
Jude and her friend Loretta call themselves “Accidental Jazz” and have performed as an unofficial act in this festival for the past four years. The best way I can describe them is they sing jazzing standards from the 40s and 50s (though I’m sure technically that’s not accurate) and there’s something fun and nostalgic about hearing “Paper Moon” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” More importantly, it’s fantastic to watch my friend Jude play diva for a day and launch full board into something she is passionate about. The fun, the passion and the love of the moment keep me in the moment. I enjoyed where I was right then and there. And to have joy in the moment and to share your passion is perhaps the greatest gift friendship can offer.
After their performance I took off on my return trip. This time it pretty much was a straight shot back to the state park for me. The cross winds picked up force and the pedaling became more challenging. I sat up more on the bike, stretching out my back as I’m not used to wearing a pack while cycling. But it was all good. My total for the day was around 37 miles on the bike and I smiled for at least 35 of those. It was a day of freedom and fun. It was a day to take in and live the day. To actually live it and feel it and wrap my arms around it. I don’t get those moments as often as I would like. Or I don’t create those moments as often as I’d like. Because the lesson of this plan change is that when you’re open to possibilities, you create space for joy to walk in.