Bicycling today, I thought about a lit class I am teaching this summer. I had planned to build the class around a series of group presentations on various aspects of class readings: historical criticism, biographic criticism, new criticism, feminist criticism. Different views. Different approaches. But I had begun to back away from that idea. And I wondered why.
Why was I unwilling to try something new? If the new approach did not work, I could adapt, change, or simply endure. My administration encourages innovation. I enjoy a certain autonomy in my classes. Nobody would question the changes. So why was I?
All the while, I was bicycling though the master planned community where I live. The bubble is about forty years old. The original developer worked to maintain the feel of the forest that was torn down to make way for the homes. Paths wind away from roads across golf courses along streams and back to the roads.
When we first moved here from The Panhandle, I tried to bike in the same way I had in the north. There, I would head out on long, uninterrupted rides on country farm roads. Wind, cold, even snow, added to the joy of the rides. I would return home exhausted and triumphant. The solitude invigorated me.
Here, though, lights, traffic, and developments seemed to hem me in curtailing my rides. I could not get out of the city; Houston stretches up, swallowing everything from College Station to Galveston.
It took me ten years to learn how to enjoy riding here. I had to give up the sexy Italian racing bike I had bought with the raise and replace it with a cross, a gravel bike of sorts. The turning point came about a year ago when I finally bought a bell–something I would have never deigned to do in the open plains. I had to let go.
Now, I enjoy wandering the trails, sidewalks, paths greenbelts–whatever they are. I enjoy becoming lost and turning back on myself, seeing new neighborhoods, coming across a snapping turtle, or cruising down the fake riverwalk.
I have started riding again. But to do so, I had to let go of some of my preconceptions, some of my pretensions, and some of my assumptions.
I am going to go ahead with the group projects for the summer.