Today I rode my bike, by myself, to a cafe downtown. I rode the bike track that runs along the beach, past a lagoon, over a creek, through pockets of bush, all the way to a gorgeous cafe overlooking the ocean. As I rode, I thought, This is a good moment. This is a good life. This is a beautiful place to be. Here I am.
I saw kids fossicking in the creek. A woman in a wheelchair, rug over her knees, eating lunch at the edge of the lagoon. I saw men powering remote-controlled boats. A girl walking her pet rabbit. A boy in a bicycle seat, almost asleep. Couples side by side beside the sea.
I didn't talk to anyone, that is, no-one except the friendly waitstaff at the cafe and one man—I offered his young son my uneaten hot choc marshmallows and got a warm, Yes please and Thankyou smile in return.
I read. I wrote. I watched. I thought. I rode. All in my own silence.
I couldn't remember the last time I'd been by myself, at least not for so long. My son almost came with me—he said, "I've been wanting to go on a long ride for ages!"
I thought, 'Well, I was thinking of taking time for myself, but…that would actually be really nice.' I realised I honestly didn't mind if my plan changed, if my son came with me on my "afternoon off." I knew we'd have a good time.
"Okay," I said, "If you want to, you're welcome to come."
But, in the end he decided to stay. Because, he reasoned, Dad should have time with him too, and my son wanted to be fair. Which was very kind.
My afternoon was simple and good and I loved the silence I had. But as I rode, I realised that if my son had come too, the "alternate version" of my afternoon would have been just as lovely. Not for the same reasons, but for other good reasons, fine reasons of its own.
I knew I could have joy either way, no matter what I did, because I believed it would be there waiting, and I would find it.