What’s that noise? I was gently cycling on a smooth road. Suddenly, I heard a disturbing noise coming from the rear wheel of my mountain bike. This sound was unfamiliar, different from when a blade of grass or twig was tangled in the mechanism. I stopped quickly and had a look. It was pretty obvious – one of my spokes had broken! I bike very frequently, I’ve been on many adventurous trails, zipped over many rocks, and navigated through countless challenging valleys. The spokes were always fine. But now, suddenly, my bike’s wheel was experiencing what engineer’s call “metal fatigue.”
What do you do with a broken spoke? It would be easy to just bend the spoke out of the way so it wouldn’t make noise every time the wheel turned. I could continue riding, and wouldn’t even notice that the wheel had one-less spoke. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to jump over obstacles or ride over large rocks, because then even more spokes would break. If I carried on riding, one spoke after another would fail and eventually the whole wheel would come off.
How does a broken spoke relate to my studies? In this post-graduate course in strategic foresight I have assignments, forums and readings. In addition to these studies, my family needs my love and care, the school wants my participation, and our church congregation is pleading for attention. Beyond all of these engagements, I also have a full-time job with many projects that largely overlap my strategic foresight focus.
When the pressure of work prevents me from completing a study assignment, I suddenly realize that one facet of my rolling life is breaking . The psychologists might say this break is caused by mental fatigue. Yet, I can’t just stop life and until I have one part sorted out; life moves on! While the rest of my life continues to rotate day after day, the dysfunctional part needs to be fixed while I simultaneously keep moving. A break in one part of my life very quickly spreads into the other parts, making them all weaker and more fragile.
Just like a bicycle wheel can eventually fail, life can also completely fall apart. Does one need to reach such a breaking point? On one hand, it might help to get to the end of yourself, so that you can rely completely on God instead of your own achievements. On the other hand, it may help you get your “broken parts” of life sorted out quickly, so that you can carry on living life to its fullest.
What do you think I did the following day? I didn’t go on an epic mountain bike tour rather I took my bike to the repair shop to have the single spoke fixed. I also asked the specialists to adjust the brakes and gears so my whole mountain bike would be able to perform better. I’m already looking forward to my next ride and enjoying the beautiful, natural landscape! The physical exercise should also help me get a better balance in all areas of my life, and for addressing the next assignments for my course in strategic foresight.