Spinning in the Dark

I feel like a caged bird that needs to fly. If I didn't have a third-grade daughter, I would be gone. I would travel. I would be living my own "Eat, Pray, Love." I need to rediscover myself, figure out what I truly want in this new life of mine. 

But I feel like I can't do it here. In my same home. My same city. I feel suffocated by sameness.

Even if I did pull my daughter out of school, I can't fly away with her. She likes the comfort of our cage: her home, her school, her friends, her visits with her dad.

So to break through this rut in my life, I need to steep myself in new experiences...push myself out of my comfort zone.

So last week I signed up for two new experiences that, honestly, did frighten me a bit: 1. photography lessons, and 2. a spin class. 

I bought a DSLR camera when my daughter was a baby. I needed that lightening fast shutter to capture those fleeting, perfect moments. But I never learned how to use my camera to its potential. Shutter speed, aperture, f-stop -- ugh, so much to understand...I was in over my head. My camera, slung around my neck, was permanently in "automatic" mode, a/ka/a rookie mode. 

My desire to become a better photographer has never faded, but neither has my apprehension about learning all that technical stuff. But I was giving in another shot. And I had a blast. I met my instructor in his Potrero Hill loft, where I felt smothered in his creativity. Our personalities clicked - we had good laughs, and he spoke in the most basic camera language possible. I was still overwhelmed at times, but I had more patience for enjoying and appreciating the learning curve. I can't wait for my next lesson.

The next day I hopped on a stationary bike at SoulCycle, a "cardio party"(their words) spin class aimed to make you both mentally and physically stronger. I was nervous. I'm active and consider myself fit, but my cardio endurance is not my strong point.

Fifty bikes are crammed into a room barely big enough to hold them. The room is dark, the music thumping. At first, I feel claustrophobic -it's too hot, I can't breath, there are too many people. But I sink into the beat of the music - Justin Timberlake, John Legend - and pedal, pedal, pedal. For forty minutes I push myself until I have streams of sweat flowing down my body. My shirt is drenched. For the last stretch, the instructor pleads for us to sprint. "Do this for the person who matters most!" she cries. "Is something stopping you? Open your heart. Feel the love pulsating your body." My feet are flying fast, my eyes squeezed shut...I'm silently sobbing. This is the soul of SoulCycle.

It was unexpected, but I learned something from these two experiences: that I'm opening to the possibility, the idea, of coming out of the dark. I've been there so long, pedaling away, working hard. But I'm finally opening up. Like the aperture on my camera. The question is: how much am I willing to open?

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