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  • Writer's pictureJ Felix

Create! Pt. 2

Lutz, et al. defines meditation as "a family of regulatory strategies designed for various ends." Ends might include calm, enhanced well-being, equanimity, compassion, interoceptive awareness, and emotional balance among many others. For me, benefits also include a clear mind, creative flow, and interconnectedness. The ends we cultivate are both practical and utilitarian.

A clear, concentrated mind- disciplined and equanimous- is an asset. The mind- free from doubt or fear- is a powerful, creative tool. In the quiet of meditation, an idea may bubble to the surface. The practice is to neither entertain nor reject them, but I don't always adhere to the discipline. The idea to build an electric bicycle for my boys surfaced recently. I shooed it away and returned to the breathing. But the idea kept buzzing around this meditator like a fly. I sat with it. After meditation, I gave it more attention. It had merit.

So, I bought a used bicycle, a motor kit, battery, and parts. We began assembly. Some of the components were not compatible, so we ended up customizing the build.

My boys are young and not intimidated by what they don't know. They are open to instruction and willing to learn. My adult mind is not as humble. So, I use meditation to reconnect to my inner child and inherent creativity. I write about this power often as it plays a central role in the creative process. This power, which abides in you, is that which took you from a single cell and formed the complexity that sits and reads and thinks. It's the power that organized atoms to form molecules that formed amino acids and proteins and cells and structures of bone, fascia, nerves, and flesh. Your beingness is inherently creative... and confident. There was no doubt as it cobbled the cells together to form the complexity that is you.

This creative force- dancing within us now- is spacious and allows for smallness and doubt to mask its radiance. But I like to build to affirm our creative potential. Paradoxically, I approach with a child's don't-know mind. This allows curiosity to push us forward with the unassuming confidence of the inquisitive child. Like the infant learning to walk, we fall and fall and fall again, but without the certitude of self-criticism that tallies failure after failure after failure.

We tested our new bike and cycled 50 miles north to Boston. We also tested ourselves physically. I've cycled continents, but this was my son's first distance ride. Many cultures have rites of passage. This was a passage of sorts for him literally and metaphorically. He did not impose any limits on himself, nor did he doubt that he could complete it.

We've challenged ourselves intellectually to build another one. The bicycle functioned well, but, about 40 miles in, the battery needed charging. With a child's don't know mind, we imagined a solar celled frame or a perovskite skin that converts solar to electrical energy. It may not be feasible now, but will be in the near future.

The more we drill down, the more there is to learn: welding, mechanics, plastics, carbon fiber fabrication, engineering, electronics, photovoltaics, the biomechanics of cycling, computer aided design, etc. I was inspired by a YouTuber who built his own electric motorcycle from scratch.

Interconnectedness is the third quality we cultivate. Cycling is a greener way to commute. The bicycle was this nerd's primary mode of transportation for years. I stopped riding as regularly after becoming a father. But, now that my children are old enough to ride a bicycle, but not yet old enough to keep up, attaching a motor gives them an assist which challenges me to keep up. It is a greener way to travel and is a portal to deeper learning.

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