The Bicycle Thief & the road to Hell

Napoleon Bonaparte  said that there was no such thing as an accident, only fate misnamed, I can’t say I agree with him entirely, I believe that in no small way we are the creators of our own fates, that along the way we may be given a hand by someone else, or from providence or luck, but there is one thing that is irrefutable, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I know this because often I lay a whole bunch of slabs along that exact route.

Today turned out to be a case in point. This morning I woke up early, had fresh fruit for breakfast, then  read a little, wrote a little and gave my food time to digest, then I headed off on my bike to a morning Yoga class, all with the best of intentions.  I’ve loads of good intentions, tons of them in fact, one of the many is to make myself healthier and fitter, this I keep plugging away at.  A few minutes cycling on my lovely new bike, (the one that was my partner across Spain and that I am now rather attached to ) I duly arrive outside the Yoga venue, I dismount, start locking my bike up, as I am doing so another cyclist comes up alongside me and begins to unlock his from the bike rack. I notice he is watching me rather intently, he tuts and as I look at him he shakes his head from side to side.
” You want a better lock he says, that’s a nice bike, I saw a programme about bike theft he tells me, that kind of lock they can break in seconds”.

I feel a pang of anxiety, deep down, not my bike, I am attached to this bike, it’s been a long way with me. I go over and over it in my mind, I imagine coming back after the Yoga class & finding the bike gone. Then I pile on the angst, I realise that I keep losing the things I am fondest of, possessions, hell even people,  I seem to lose everything, will the bike be next?  Then I think about the Buddhist stuff, another of my good intentions, to learn about Buddhism. I think about attachment, Buddhists always talk about attachment, how it just doesn’t work.  Is that why I lose stuff, because I am attached to it? Is that my lesson, maybe if I don’t care about my bike then it will remain with me, maybe that’s what I need to do, not care about anything, about anyone, then they will stay. These thoughts all run in a nano second, the man is still standing there, I say I am getting another lock, a better one and leave him to go to the class.

Through the class I  am thinking about my bike, and my good intentions, and attachment.  I bend I stretch and I move, for an hour and a half, as soon as the class is finished I go to retrieve my bike. Thank goodness it is still there, I take the key from my bag, insert it into the padlock and turn, suddenly there is a snap, the key sheers off in the lock, my bike is firmly chained and unmovable. I stand there for a moment, now what? I head off to the builders merchant, I select a hacksaw and go back to my bike.

So there I stand, on a Tuesday with lunchtime approaching, the street is fairly busy, people walking along, life is happening and  there I am, trying to hacksaw off a reinforced chain. It is a slow process, painfully slow, people walking past me, all of them seem to be staring, they dont have to say anything, it is obvious, they think I am trying to steal the bike. I am mortified, when somebody looks particularly disturbed to see me sawing away I find myself explaining to them, perfect strangers, I engage in conversation, it’s my bike, honestly, I broke the key in the lock you see. Here look,  this is the key, I hold up the key, it goes on like this for what feels like a lifetime, twice other cyclists stop at the bike rack and lock up their bikes, they both stare at me, saying  nothing, I go into my now oft repeated it’s my bike. I do my best to sound really earnest, so that they understand it is my bike really, that i am not a bicycle thief, but the harder I try the more convinced I am that I sound like I am trying to steal the bike. Meanwhile the hacksaw is making little progress on the steel of the chain. I begin to wish the man earlier on with the lock advice had actually been correct and that this chain was easily broken in seconds.

By now I am beginning to sweat, my face is red, with embarrassment and exertion. I notice out of the corner of my eye two policemen walking up the street. My brain does a calculation, do I just carry on sawing and pretend this is perfectly normal? I decide that the whole thing will be difficult to explain, i didn’t keep a receipt from the place I bought the bike in France, it seemed pointless, but now I realised I couldn’t prove the bike was mine. I decided in that moment that the best thing to do was to hide the hacksaw, now one might imagine that this action might be seen as decidedly dodgy, but my brain didn’t think so. But then that’s the thing about accidents, sometimes they just happen and then take on a momentum all of their own.

Some time later, with the aid of a bolt cutter and a helpful man in uniform me & my bike departed, I did not have to attend the police station for further enquiries, but it was a close run thing.

Perhaps Napoleon was right, there is no such thing as an accident, just fate, and as I hear  over and over again that we learn though the adversities we encounter today I am reminded more valuable lessons:-

Policeman are rarely there when you need them, but always have a knack of being there when you don’t. & The road to Hell is most definitely paved with good intentions, & as for attachments, well that’s a lesson that I have yet to work through, I am not entirely sure that I will fit it in in this lifetime, so I may go for reincarnation and work it all out next time round.


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