The point of no returning

I have a slightly annoying mental habit of replaying, as I ride my bicycle home after occasionally complicated work days, the conversations of those work days, or, worse, fictionalizing them, pretending that I had made this excellent point to that person or imagining how I had delivered this effective line to that person, until, soon, the rut my thoughts run in takes the shape of a loop that shuttles a chain of replayed or imagined conversations back and around and down and back and around again in what is, believe me, a slightly annoying mental habit.

This is why I have a point of no more returning—the point on my commute home where I insist on letting the day's back-and-forth break into pixels and blow away. For me, this point is the 142 St bridge over the MacKinnon Ravine.

The bridge is about two-thirds of the way home. Two-thirds of the way home is about one-third of the way home farther than I feel spinning thoughts of the workday should rightly intrude. The bridge routinely delivers marvellous views of the trees, clouds, sunsets and, at this time of year, a growing skyline that shimmers like it is wrapped in gold foil. From the bridge, I see the asphalt paths converge into a kind of wiggly divining rod pointing to the North Saskatchewan River. The bridge, as a bridge, takes me safely over a gap.

On those days—they are not many, but they do occur, they do recur—where my bicycle components abet in my slightly annoying mental habit, the 142 St across the MacKinnon Ravine is a kind of enforced reminder to consider higher things.

Last night, coming home late, that is precisely how it unfolded. There I was, pedalling over the bridge of no more returning, madly rewriting in my head the script of one scene from the day, when I suddenly saw myself pedalling over the bridge madly rewriting in my head the script of one scene from the day. I was approaching the end of the bridge. I caught myself. I looked up at the sky. The dark ocean of sky obliterated my petty account taking. The sky of death and its smear of clouds made me feel that I was riding on the rim of the planet and that my cares were gauze. For a split second, I felt the swell of inaudible music from that black beyond. Everything in my heart reacquired some stillness and balance. My pedalling legs did not feel like my own.

This was how it happened.

And I was reminded of why I ride a bicycle at night.

It remains thrilling to pedal in the city with its system of streets, its streetlights in a row, its trees just so, its lane markings and its traffic signs exactly where they should be, and then to escape this organization in a glance up into and contemplate that other realm, from which there is no return, and to realize, yes, but not yet.

The streets last night

The sky last night


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