I love the summer solstice…the long days, the outdoor time, the smells, the activities in my community and the potential of summer as it lays before me.
One of my favorite summer activities is bike commuting. I’m not hard core enough to bike the other 9 months of the year, but in the summer I soak it up. Plus, Minneapolis is an amazing bike city.
Last summer there were reports of bikers on the greenway getting mugged at night. Friends have suggested I avoid riding my bike home from work after dark. This distressed me for multiple reasons.
But I’ve decided my nighttime ride is a meaningful ritual and I cannot bear to give it up.
This is because it’s a moment to feel free and live with a little abandon.
With the troubles of the day behind me, I hop on my old mountain bike. It allows me to jump on and off curbs or little trails, as if I’m back in my Utah days. I make my way down the greenway and along the lakes, breathing in the nighttime air, feeling the wind in my hair, seeing the lights reflected in the stillness of the water, and playing my favorite tunes on my iPod (my summer 2016 mix just might be my best yet). I know I should wear a helmet and I know I should not play music. But I persist at times anyway because I love it so. (A quick note to my nephew Henry if you are reading this: I typically do wear a helmet and by the way you should always wear a helmet.)
Given last summer’s crimes on the greenway, my decision to keep biking reminded me of the Take Back the Night movement. More than the title of a Justin Timberlake song, Take Back the Night began in the 1970s as a way to protest all forms of sexual, relationship and domestic violence. I participated in a Take Back the Night march during college and it made an impression up me.
Perhaps my nighttime biking escapade is my way of taking back the night. I’m not going to give up something I love because it could be risky. Heck, anytime we get out of bed we take a risk. We also take a risk if we choose to stay under the covers.
I’m cautious when need be. I have brighter lights on my bike, I play my music a little quieter and I typically wear my helmet, despite my hair wanting nothing more than to blow in the wind.
But sometimes, with intention, I don’t do what is safest. And it makes me feel alive.
It’s okay to want to live on the edge a little. There are plenty of ways to break free from your doldrums, to liberate yourself and have fun, if you give yourself permission. These activities might reawaken something inside of you that’s been lost.
Reclaim your right to space and the joys in your life. What are you waiting for?