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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2010 35 “why are you in such a sucky mood?” i asked. my fourteen-year-old came up to my face, the machinery of his teeth glinting. “because my whole mouth is on fire, okay?” he replied. i remembered to breathe. “Just because you got your bottom braces put on, that’s no reason to take it out on your little broth- er,” i said. “demonstrate a little courage.” The sullenness worsened. That’s when i proposed the bike ride. “i don’t want to take a bike ride! i’m hungry but i can’t even eat. i can’t put anything in my mouth!” he replied. “everything’s too germy anyway. why would i even want to take a bike ride?” “maybe it’ll make you feel better. we can ride to the ball field and watch your brother play.” so that’s what we did. after his little brother was picked up by a classmate’s father to go to the game, we rode. The sun was still high at 7 p.m. i pointed out the long shadows, the purple crowns of clover so plump in the evening air, the stalks of grass straight and firm. i was trying to coax some sunshine into his being, or at least help console him through the distemper of be- ing fourteen with a mouth full of biting metal. he grunted and moaned. nothing soothed him. he slumped over the handlebars like something wilting. we passed a sign that said “Free rabits.” it was leaning against Seth and Willie His son’s pity party over new braces prompts Daniel aSa RoSe to take him for a bike ride. Along the way, they pause for a lesson on suffering—and gratitude. a telephone pole all by itself, the “rabits” long gone. it might have looked forlorn except for the stately rods of green sway- ing against the base, their tops gleaming in the slanting light. so strong and stalwart. The perfume of cut grass was everywhere, liquory enough to make you drunk. i could hear mowers work- ing throughout the countryside. “don’t be discouraged if i go faster than you,” i said. “i do this year round so i’m in pretty good shape.” he pedaled even slower. was he hanging back on purpose or were the teenaged years really so full of fatigue? i tried a new tack. “sometimes when i’m feeling out of sorts, i just pedal awhile and, like magic, pretty soon i feel better.” neither did this solve the world’s problems. “do you mind if i wait for you at the next turn?” i said, losing a measure of pa- tience. “if you lose your way just keep going straight.” “i’ll mess up!” he cried. i went ahead anyway, not to be a prisoner to his mood. in a meadow a lamb bleated. lucky lamb, i thought, with all this grass everywhere, swallowing the town. after a while i stopped to relieve myself. “This is the end” blasted out from inside a nearby garage. not half bad for a garage band, i thought; then realized it was actually the real recording by The doors. i saw my son pedaling, in a kind of lethargic nervousness, down the PhoTobydanwilliams/smooThFooTe