when it comes to dogs, I am a hard one to love. since the age of five, I have been terrified of dogs–a bad run-in with a german shepherd left me scarred and a fear, that many thought I would outgrow, took root.
for the past few years I have been consciously working on uprooting this fear, but it is pretty deep. if there was some place that I felt called to go or something I really wanted/needed to do, I have managed the fear, to an extent, but for the most part, it still determines the places I travel, wander, and the invitations I receive and activities I chose to do…like bike riding for instance.
“no way,” I would tell myself, and anyone else who suggested I pick up the sport. though I have fond memories of riding bikes, as a child and a teen with my family, the thought of riding the streets of the city, totally vulnerable to any stray or unleashed dog that could possibly cross my path, kept me from jumping on a bike.
I started singing a different tune last year when I noticed all of these red b-cycles for rent around Houston. a desire to ride again began to grow. and after lots of internal conversations, observations of the park and how dogs move around the space, one day I just decided it was time.
on my first ride a member at the church I serve joined me. the next ride I did solo, all by myself. it was exhilarating and freeing. I was still a little anxious and always on the look out for our four-legged friends, but I loved it and decided biking was going to be apart of my 2014 experience in Houston.
after taking the step by myself, Cleve joined me and I noticed how my anxiety was less and I was able to be more present to the experience. it is becoming a habit. it is a joy for us both, so much so that I did not insist we change our next riding expedition when I found out that our the new location for our bike adventure would be in the middle of a downtown city dog festival. FOR REAL! Now I did remind him about a thousand times before getting on the bikes about my fear, but the point is I did not demand we change locations, I actually got out of the car, and walked through the park with him to find us bikes to rent.
as we rode Sunday I kept thinking about the power of love, and the difference it has made in life to have a companion to journey with through all of life. there is something comforting and empowering about having someone beside you who you can trust when facing your fears. on that ride gratitude, not fear, filled me. it was life-giving.
truth be told, my phobia of dogs is still with me. it is still going to have an influence upon where I travel, the places I wander, and the activities I choose to do. however I am thankful for city bike rentals and a friend whose love enables me to explore parts of our city and enjoy the gift of spring and breathe in the fresh air outside of my car.
here are some views from the b-cycle…