Yesterday was the shortest ride I’ve had in a while — just a hair over 20-miles. I intended to ride between 24-27. It was cold, rainy, and a bit windy. About 10-miles out, I found myself riding in some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever ridden through. Despite being appropriately dressed and biked, I was getting soaked, chilled, and frustrated. I made the decision to cut it short and head home.
This is when I started thinking about freewill — yet again.
I think about free will often, especially when I’m on my bike. I think this is because riding a bike, above all things, is a continual decision making process…
– How I should position myself within the lanes.
– What road obstacles to avoid.
– Which direction I want to look to check on traffic.
– Which gear to be in.
– Which scenery to look at.
– Is that a bee on my knee, or a piece of gravel…?
When I leave my house to ride, I always know whether I’m going to go north or south, and I have a rough idea of how many miles I’ll ride that day. However, as I pull out of my driveway, other than going left or right, I don’t know for certain the precise route I’m going to ride.
I have roughly a half-dozen courses that I ride regularly, and within those courses, there’s probably 20 or more variations of each. Every ride is unique to itself, even if only slightly from the previous one.
As I navigate my chosen course each day, and as I make last-minute decisions to go left or go right, up or down, or of where to stop and take a pretty picture and of what, I think about freewill.
Contemporary physics suggests that there is no freewill. Mathematics, apparently, doesn’t provide for it. Sean Carrol, Brian Greene, and Jana Levin among others, suggest that freewill is just an illusion. For his part, Greene says we should enjoy the “imaginary control” we believe we have, but viscerally not get caught up in it.
I have my doubts about this.
At least a few times on every ride, I’m forced into a decision to go left, to go right or to choose a prong on a fork taking me in entirely different directions, knowing that I can’t ride on two prongs at once.
In one instance, there is a fork that divides Live Oak Road from Reche Road here in Fallbrook. When I arrive at that fork, I often don’t make the decision of which way I’ll go until the very last second. If I go left, up Reche, I’ll get me home sooner, but I’ll pay for it with a steeper and more challenging climb. Conversely, going right, up Live Oak, will add a couple of miles to my trip home, but with a much gentler climb, and one that is more beautiful.
Many times though, has my front tire been pointed left up Reche, when at the last possible second, I turn right up Live Oak for the longer but prettier climb. A last-second ‘choice’.
That those decisions happen multiple times on every ride, and that they often happen so suddenly, sure seems like freewill to me.
Maybe I am a pawn in a greater or lesser game that I have no ownership in. I think about a giant in different realm or in a far away universe, sitting in a chair, staring at a screen, and controlling me with a joystick.
Cosmologist and mathematician George Ellis argues against the more recent speculation that all reality is just a projection or a holographic image.
Part of me likes the idea that there might not be free will. If there’s isn’t, if I tell a nun to screw off, I’m not gonna have to pay for it in my next life. But I don’t buy it — not the holographic projection for the absence of freewill.
Every time I go left where I generally take a right, I feel myself making that decision. I just know it’s me, and only me.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
15.0 mph avg
Yesterday’s earworm: For Beginners, by M. Ward
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from M. Ward. Enjoy…!