This morning was foggy, and beautiful with it. I craved a camera, even though I doubt I could have captured the essence of what I was seeing, feeling, the atmosphere of the fog. The hush, the way it gathered on my “sun” glasses until I finally took them off, the way it diffused everything, hid the ugliness.

Most of the time I prefer sharp vision, I want to really see what is there. Sometimes it is depressing, sometimes it is an exhillarating challenge. And sometimes I need a break. The world looks better in soft focus, and it feels like a vacation from reality, if only for a 14 mile bike ride.

Between my frustrations earlier this week (and really every week) with the rude comments, and the slow times at work causing painful boredom, I spent some time today looking for an alternate route for part of my trip. The part where I get 99% of the rude comments. In researching one route, I found a different one, and it is exactly what I needed. And then in researching the neighborhood further, I stumbled on a website where some random DC area commuter posted his general purpose bike route, which goes from the very area I was looking at routes in, to the Jefferson Memorial in DC. And while I don’t need to go to the Jefferson Memorial any time soon, his first cue sheet was the precise cue sheet I needed to avoid the rudest part of my commute.

I rode the new route today, and it was very relaxing. It isn’t as fast, I don’t think it is ever as fast to go through neighborhoods as it is to go straight down a road, but it was quiet. Relaxing. I could look around at the pretty houses and their pretty lawns. I didn’t worry about people driving stupid, I didn’t have to hear rude shouts, and in the end it might have been just as fast, since there were no stop lights. Or buses.

I guess I don’t care that it isn’t as fast. I’ll likely continue to use the old route in the mornings – it is quieter, I never get rude people shouting things at me (too busy gulping coffee, I’d imagine), and I just don’t feel the need for an alternate route in the mornings.

The afternoons, though, it is welcome.

The relief is bigger than it seems to warrant. The frustration with the people was growing that big. I worried that the frustration would outshine the joy, at some point, and I’d throw up my hands in disgust and retreat to the cranky car driver I used to be.

Sort of reminds me of The Big Hill, and the lesson I learned when I first started my bike commutes, that we can benefit by going around. And the irony is a nice one – that the very week I started tackling the big hill head on instead of going around was the very same week I gave up tackling the rude portion of my commute, and switched to going around that particular “obstacle”.

So far so good – I’ve ridden the hill three days in a row, and I’ve found a new contentment with my rerouting of my dreaded portion of the route today. Both make me happy.

My new lesson? Some challenges are worth tackling, others just piss you off.

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