(originally posted 4/09 at wordpress.com)
by Abby Yates
As many of you know I have been looking forward to Bike Back The Night (BBTN) for...well, since last year's bike ride. For those of you who don't know what BBTN is, it’s an annual social justice community bike ride held on the same night as Take Back The Night (a world-wide rally/vigil/march) and is hosted by Portland Women's Crisis Line to raise awareness about sexual assault.
So, for the past year I've been really excited, but this last week I began to get a little bit nervous as well. See, I'd volunteered to be a ride leader, but hadn't been riding my bike for almost 3 months since it was stolen. In a fit of nerves I called Ally to let her know I wouldn't be able to take part after all. Little did I know that the very same night I cancelled, my partner would be bringing me a new bike! Counting my blessings, I quickly signed back up and began practicing.
I don't think I've ever in my entire life worked out as much as I did last week. By the time the day came I was sure that I would not be able to finish the ride. Still, I soldiered on because I knew it would be over soon enough. My friend Kelsey will attest. As late as 4:30 I was still complaining, "Ugh. I can't wait till this is over. I have my ‘girl time’ and I am so not in the mood."
Soon enough, though, it was 5:30 and the safety talk began. Then 6:00 came and Elisa and I took our positions in the very back of the line so we could direct traffic. What do you know, before I could even check my watch it was 6:30 and there we were riding up the park blocks to PSU! We had all made it in one piece!
When we got to Park and Columbia I handed the walkie-talkie over to Elisa and veered left to go to the bus stop. The latest direct bus from Portland to Vancouver leaves at 7:02 and I didn't want to miss it otherwise my ride home would take more than an hour and a half...in the dark. Unfortunately, Taking Back The Night still doesn’t make me feel safer actually being out there alone in the dark at a bus stop. Maybe soon. So, I'm standing there in the sunshine at the bus stop waiting for the 105 and feeling just so darn good about myself for having actually made it the whole way without collapsing and I realized something really awesome...
I am so proud of myself for this life I have created!
It kind of hit me like a ton of bricks as tears began to well in my eyes and this thought came tumbling out next: my life is not about what has happened to me or the tools I was equipped with at birth. Neither is it about those aspects, which I have chosen. My life is a direct result of how I've taken both those things that have happened to me and those things, which I have chosen and molded them into a beautiful creation. My life is a work of art that I have created.
The thing that is so great about this revelation is that it’s not just about me. I hope that each of you know this about yourself as well because I believe it is true for all of us. Every one of our lives is a work of art and each one of us, the artist. What kind of lives are we creating? I'd never thought about this before, but now I can't get it out of my head and I hope it never goes away.
Most of all, though, I hope that each of you are able to see the beautiful life you have created and its value in the world... if not just for the wonderful impact that each of you have had in helping those around you to mold and shape their own works of art. The world is truly a more beautiful place for it.