Waking up at 4AM without an alarm has become second nature and today is no exception. I move into the kitchen to brew a strong cup of dark coffee, adding just a tad of half and half, and ultimately find my way to the bar table in my small kitchen. There I switch on the “happy light,” a full spectrum light box that wakes me up and wards off the winter blues.
With the light in my eyes I open my bible , finding today’s passage. As I take the first delicious sip of steaming coffee, I think of Tich Nat Hanh’s directive: “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
Today’s Bible reading is a good one; lots of juicy quotes from Jesus that are controvertial at first blush, and that warrant my popping up the laptop to clarify through online commentaries. I smile as I read them rapidly and zero in on the basic teaching point: “Just love, and then love some more.”
Hurrying to put on my gym clothes, I notice in the mirror my morning “look” is rather frightening. But my 5AM tribe at the gym is used to it by now and they each have their own morning persona as well.
At the gym I greet the “towel guy” Preston. “Good morning sunshine!” I say to him in our usual ritual and he smiles and hands me a towel. We exchange brief updates on our lives as I head into the darkened mirrored room for cycling class. Befriending Preston makes me feel good. I’m connected to someone I wouldn’t otherwise know and I have an accountability partner who admonishes me if I don’t show up on a weekday morning.
Inside the darkened spinning room the usuals take their usual bikes, making the necessary functional adjustments so they can spin to their heart’s content. Our favorite teacher is on deck today and we begin with some raucous music as we all wake up our cycle legs and settle in.
The usuals are all accounted for: front row man who adoringly watches his spinning form in the mirror throughout the class oblivious to the instructions of our leader; the guy who is suited up in bike regalia as though today’s class is really the first leg of the Tour de France; the woman who spins with reckless abandon breathing hard until her face is beet red making me worry she will stroke out; and the three in the back who chat through some of class annoying the rest of us.
Today, at the 7 minutes mark an interloper appears on the scene. A millennial man in long sweat pants with a long sleeve shirt under a bright orange t-shirt endorsing a race of some sort, with an undeicpherable hashtag on the back. He has three towels, obviously expecting to “sweat it out” and he hops on the bike right next to me disrupting my usual cycling vibe.
Millennial man spins his legs quickly and once he is with the groove he starts to sing. To every song. He is a regular karaoke affiicanado seemingly knowing the words to every song of the instructor’s playlist, including songs from my generation, which is a good thirty years earlier than his.Soon he begins to play air drums all over the bike handles, and up in the air shaking his head in beat to the bass. I ‘m annoyed but then I remember “just love and then love some more” so I relax and welcome this disruptor of my continuum.
At once my annoyance turns to amusement. I began to enjoy his performance, delighted in the fact he’s infusing new energy into the spin class, and giving me a chance to just love and then love some more. Just as the endorphins peak, the playlist offers up a spiritual song in perfect tempo “and not a tear is wasted, in time you’ll understand, I’m painting beauty with the ashes, your life is in my hands….”
The millennial stops playing the drums and sings the song softly, with great tenderness. “you’re not alone stop holding on and just be held….”
I’m shocked. I’m amazed. I get the message. I just love and then love some more that this millennial man has come into my cycling class today shining a light into the dark spinning room. And he is my brother.
The song ends and so does the moment, and Pink starts wailing about raising a glass. The instructor shouts something about lactic acid and we spin like we’re expecting the bikes to fly into the sky, the millennial breaking into full blown song and air guitar accompaniment. Class ends, and I offer him a fist bump: “It was great to spin next to you today man!” He fist bumps me back, “I’m going to keep riding till they kick me out of here!” and for all I know he is still spinning.
I change out of my bike shoes and don my sweatshirt and coat as Preston comes up to tell me about the high school basketball game from our mutual alma mater. I soon walk out into the cold dark morning, pausing to look at the sky thinking about the rest of the world just now waking up. Gratitude overwhelms me. I have a faith, a healthy body, a genuine caring for people, and a full day awaiting me with chances to just love and then love some more.