The Sheer Joy of It

I occasionally get a sensation I refer to as “the joy bubble.” It’s a feeling of intense rising pressure from deep inside created by elation and excitement that seem to want to burst out all over. 

No, this is not a digestive problem.

This also isn’t exactly happiness, which I feel a fair amount of the time because I’m a Sally Sunshine optimist. It feels both deeper and more significant.

I have distinct memories of some of the things that have created this sensation. They’re pretty simple, really. A few examples (and in making the list I realized every single time I feel this it has to do with living intensely in the moment of an actual experience--never with acquiring some kind of possession):
  • Walking along the sidewalk at Washington State University during one of my first years of college there, kicking through piles of gorgeous golden/orange/red/russet/brown fall leaves and looking up through more of that vivid color at a clear blue autumn sky.
  • Learning to slalom waterski—at last—rising up behind my oldest brother’s speedboat on one ski and walking on water.
  • Listening to my daughters sing (they have gorgeous voices).
  • Going for a walk with my sweetheart, holding hands and striding out along the sidewalk walking in step with each other on a balmy evening or a crisp morning.
  • And most recently, at Spokane Summer Parkways.

Wednesday night I attended a late-afternoon event, then booked home in my tangerine silk dress and pumps to change into (gasp!) bike clothes for Parkways.

As I left my house and started riding up Rockwood Boulevard toward the event I encountered a man and a woman on bikes speeding downhill. They smiled, waved, and called out “Hi!” I reciprocated and pedaled onward, smiling to myself and thinking, “They must have just come from Parkways.”

Not half a block later another man swooped around the corner from Upper Terrace Road to drop onto Rockwood. He too called out, waved, and smiled.

Any two riders on bikes encountering each other on the streets around here are apt to give a brief nod or a lift of the hand to acknowledge the two-wheeled fellowship. But the extra conviviality and connection—the smile, the comment, and two encounters so close together—felt above and beyond the norm of what I encounter in my everyday riding.

I made it up the hill to Parkways and there encountered so much more of the same. Smiling, waving, talking to total strangers on one of the first truly warm summer evenings we've had, the day after Solstice so the light lingered. 

People filled the streets with happiness. Parents and grandparents pushing strollers, a mom on inline skates next to her daughter on a tiny push bike, folks of all ages and sizes on bikes of all types, a young couple walking their new adoptee from the shelter, families lined up in a semicircle of lawn chairs on their front lawns chatting, smiling, and waving at the passers-by.

I pedaled slowly around the parks, stopped to chat with people I know and with ones I don't know, told a friend who's running for the school board that I want her yard sign, met up with my sweetheart, and went by The Scoop for ice cream before riding home together through the warm summer evening.

16 Posts on Bike Style

I haven't stopped blogging here completely, mind you, but am producing at least two posts a week on my newish blog, Bike Style Spokane. If that's the content that interests you, pop over and subscribe!

I'd especially appreciate it if you would go vote on the Bikespedition #1 poll for great destination neighborhoods for biking/eating/shopping/sightseeing and nominate biking women to interview for "On a Roll With...."

This blog remains as the home for my thoughts on public policy (including bike policy), food, Spokane, random parenting (can't call it drive-by parenting since I'm usually on a bike), and the like.

Herewith, a round-up of my posts since the inauguration of Bike Style Spokane on May 1, 2011, the beginning of Spokane Bicycle Month: