We were thrilled to have son David join for day 40 of our ride–100 hot, humid miles from Perry to east of Gainesville, Fla, surrounded on all sides by beautiful yellow wild flowers–a floral yellow brick road.
The number 40 is significant in many religious traditions. It represents a long period of time and is often associated with periods of trial and tribulation. When I was young I took the Christian 40 day lent period quite seriously and gave up sugar and went to church every day for that period. I considered it a period of necessary suffering that led to Easter when I would gorge myself with chocolate and end my suffering. As an adult, I have realized that really wasn’t the point. Over the past few years, I have participated in nine 40 day yoga/meditation retreats with the intention of using the 40 days to build new habits and ways of thinking. During those retreats, 20 or so people meet every morning from 5 am – 7am to meditate, practice yoga and reflect individually and together on topics such as fear, forgiveness, trust, love, relationships. One of the most meaningful exercises is creating a forgiveness list–a list of all the people that you are not at peace with and journal and reflect until you can truly say you’ve forgiven everyone on that list. For many, the person they have the hardest time forgiving is themselves. The forgiveness exercise is followed by the making of a gratitude list and slowly but surely through this process of self reflection you replace fear with courage, resentment with love and anger with gratitude. And so 40 days has come to represent for me the time needed for enduring transformation– habits that continue through to day 41 and beyond. This ride symbolized a 40 day journey for me–a time of structured moving meditation and self reflection and I can honestly say I have grown calmer, stronger and more appreciative of life in its myriad of forms both good and bad. I would encourage everyone to participate in their own 40 day “journey” and am deeply grateful that you have joined me on mine.