Cycling away despair

Ryan deBiase

With young adulthood comes a new litany of life problems: girl or guy troubles, money issues, parental woes (either with your parents or the possibility of becoming a parent), etc. The list goes on and on. Yet, how do we work through these problems? Most likely by dousing our livers in whatever alcoholic beverage best presents itself or lapsing into an herb binge.

There’s nothing wrong with this course of action when it comes to coping with despair; I’ve been there, depressed and drunk, one friendly nudge away from sharing my internal cocktail with the rest of the party.

Suffice it to say, last week was not very pleasant. I won’t go into details for it doesn’t concern the everyday reader, but I was down on life.

But the morning after this binge, I awoke with a new course of action. I was no longer going to drown in my sorrows amongst Pabst and Carlo Rossi. I was going cycling — Portage Trail via Lake Street into Ravenna. Before I knew it, I felt the wind through my hair and witnessed nature in its halcyon glory. Flora, fauna and the unbridled expanse of Mother Nature instilled comfort within the recesses of my soul.

By the time I reached Ravenna and the end of the line, I was already feeling better. My heart was beating like a champ, vigorously castigating me for me thinking it a cold, broken old man the night before. You win, heart, you win.

And so I ventured back West, ready to accept, embrace and maybe even cast aside the problems that so prompted my trek into the green wilderness. As I passed Brady Lake Village, the Portage Trail proper abruptly ended and I decided to continue along the less-trodden railroad bed beyond, not at all ready to vacate this peaceful vista unless absolutely necessary.

As I re-entered the Kent area, machine shops, fabrication plants and factories began to consume my field of vision just beyond the tree line to the left. A service road forked off toward the rear of one of these buildings. With the insatiable curiosity associated with trail riding, I ventured off into industrial abyss.

I had been in ecstasy while exploring the Portage Trail, reinvigorated by my love of the outdoors and summer, all the while quelling some internal despair. What I came across at the end of the service road negated all my petty problems. Under the shadow of industrial architecture, a mammoth polyvinyl sewer pipe jutted out of the earth, gaping as if surprised to see me. From this 5-foot-tall orifice, a gradual dribble of chemical run-off flowed casually into a man-made trough to slowly seep into the surrounding soil. The very Mother Nature I had just intimately experienced was being raped and pillaged right under my nose. Considering my state when embarking on the cycling excursion, this seemed somehow appropriate.

But it put things into perspective. If this sort of thing can happen everyday unnoticed, maybe our trifling little college life problems aren’t as awful as we make them out to be, for Mother Nature has it much rougher than the lot of us.

Ryan deBiase is an English major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].