Early Gratitude

The following piece is from a writing exercise. I’d love to hear some feedback. The goal of the exercise is to capture a scene, so the reader feels present within it. How did I do? Let me know in the comments. Be honest. All constructive criticism welcome!

The pain in his bladder forced him to open his eyelids. He laid, staring blurry-eyed at the bedroom ceiling, until his visioned focused. He slipped from the covers and tiptoed across the hardwood floors to the table where his cellphone was charging. Flipping the phone over, the light from the screen cast a blue hue over the bedroom. 6:39 a.m. He quickly switched off the glowing screen, as not to wake his wife, and eased his way into the hallway.

The house lay still and dark, with faint sunlight fading through the curtains. Although his body creaked and moaned, the solitude of the moment wrapped a welcoming arm around his shoulder. After a brief stop by the bathroom and making coffee, he made his way to the screened porch in the back. Clutching his prayerbook and Bible, he settled into the swing and listened to creation begin its wake-up call.

Birds warbled. Squirrels scampered. Cars hummed in the distance. The family cat met him with a glance. He soaked in the sights and sounds, appreciating each one as a gift from God. In the privacy of the early morning, he realized how much he had to be thankful for. Even if… especially if, he couldn’t sleep in on a Saturday.

Bluefish Solitude

After stepping outside, I pulled my bicycle from the shed, and gave “Black Betty” a pre-ride inspection. Everything was in working order. I straddled the Felt Broam, strapped on my helmet, hit start on my Garmin GPS, and shoved off. The familiar click of my cleats in the pedals forced the corners of my mouth slightly upward. I’d waited for this ride, this adventure, for days.

The familiar click of my cleats in the pedals forced the corners of my mouth slightly upward.

The growl in my belly reminded me I needed breakfast, so I pedaled through town to catch the Greenway Trail toward Starbucks. Betty’s tires sung their low rumble on the pavement below. The sounds of city life filled the air. Cars whizzed pass. Horns honked in the distance. Voices chattered. Dogs barked. City sweepers scrubbed the streets with a whirling hum.

I pedaled to the café, ordered bacon cheddar bites, and grabbed a few protein bars for the trip. At the register, one of the baristas asked to take a picture of my 2022 Great Cycle Challenge jersey. To some in Starbucks, I was only a middle-aged man in cycling shorts, but at heart, I was a kid seeking adventure.

Leaving the coffee shop, I hammered down New Forest Highway out of town. The sky hung heavy with humidity and left my skin moist. The noise of town faded to the occasional passing vehicle. Then I turned onto Squirrel Bridge. I settled into my pace and rode, soaking in the experience. This was what I had hoped for all week. As I turned onto Bluefish Road, I noticed the silence. No cars. No voices. Only a few birds chirped as the sand crunched under Betty’s hungry wheels. Although my lungs and legs burned, my heart filled with peace.

I was miles away from the cares of life.

I was miles away from the cares of life. The sense of freedom bubbled from the depths of my soul. A grin stretched wide across my face, as I realized the reason I ride. I find happiness and contentment in the solitude found on backroads like Bluefish Road.

Yes, that’s why I ride. Where do you find peace and solitude? I’d like to hear about it in the comment section.

PS- If you’re wondering, the ride was a little over 47 miles long.