What’s Love Got to Do with It . . . and I don’t mean the song

The first time I ever taught a cycle class, it was completely by default.  The scheduled instructor failed to show up and I was the only one around that was qualified to teach it (Qualified meaning on the payroll).   After agreeing to give it a whirl, I franctically searched the club for music to play only to find that all the cycle CDs were under lock and key and no one was willing to break the rules to free them for me.  

I had no choice but to shuffle through the music in my car.  One by one I ejected the music from the player:  80’s love rock — too much hair . . .  Bare Naked Ladies Just for Kids — too many references to nap time, snack time, and lullabyes . . . Disco’s Greatest hits — who am I? . . . Songs Most often Played at Youth Group — even I feel too old to be listening to that one . . . AirSupply — okay, now that’s just embarassing . . . ahh, finally . .. Soundtrack to Grey’s Anatomy– variety of artists, styles, tempos, Perfect!

Trying to hide the trembles, I walked into class, cracked a joke about the b-team arriving, and mounted the bike.  Now dripping with sweat (and not from the workout), I hit play,  and off we went.  A few songs in my confidence soared. 

I suddenly had a flashback  of the day my sisters decided I needed to take off my training wheels.  They took me to the local church, put me on my Schwinn and sent me down the handycap ramp.    Down I went, throught the parking lot, around the block . . . wind in my hair . . . I did it . . .

And now in cycle class, I was doing it.  Calling out orders, fans blowing in my hair  . . .It really was just like riding a bike.

Then I remembered what happened at the end of the block . . . my pants got stuck in the chain, I fell over in the neighbors yard and started crying . .  .

That’s sort of what happened in class, minus the pants in chain thing. 

Someone in the crowd called out, “this music sucks.”  That was followed by, “I thought I was depressed before I came in, do you have anything else.”  After that it’s a bit of a blur.  At some point Disco found it’s way into the player and I managed to climb, jump, and sprint through YMCA and other funk. 

When everyone had sanatized their bikes and moved along to the locker room, I started sobbing.  Seriously humiliated, I stared down at the Grey’s CD in my hand.  I burst into laughter as my eyes scanned the song titles: I‘m so Tired, Am I falling, Is it over yet . . . No wonder the class was so excited for Disco.

Three years later, I still teach spin, and I still agonize over the music every day.  As time has passed, however, I have come to know the participants sitting on the bikes in front of me.  I know that Steve (the snow skiing engineer) will be happy as long as ACDC finds a spot in the mix.   I know that Patty (the nurse, mother and grandmother) will glow when love shack blares.  I know that Dave (the almost 50 and still a champion water skiier) just needs a little hip hop before work.  I know who will sing when American Pie  comes on.  I also know who will groan when I play Ring of Fire for the eight hundreth time.  It is no longer the music that gets me going, it is the people for whom the music plays.

Someone told me that you will know what you are meant to do in life, because it is the one thing you will find yourself doing without even thinking about it.  For me, that is teaching.  I have always said that I will teach anyone, anything.  Just let me teach.  What noone ever told me was that just doing what you were meant to do is not enough.

You see, we can do what we love: teach exercise because we love to exercise, write for a newspaper because we love to write, do taxes because we love math (i’m sure there is someone out there.)

 We can love what we do:  love the money it provides, the security it wraps us in, the thrill it engages us with.

Or we can love the people we do it for:  we can get up in the morning and look forward to the faces we’ll see, the lives we will touch, the difference we will make for them. 

I love teaching, and I love my cycle class.  I look forward to seeing them, miss them when they are gone, worry when they are hurt.  They tell me when their lives are falling apart, when they lose their jobs, when their wives might have cancer.   They are often what gets me up in the morning.

Just doing what you are meant to do is not enough because there are people you are meant to do it for.  There are lives that only you can touch, not just with what you do, but because of what you do.  It is only enough, when you do what you do because you love the people you do it for. 

I play a song in cycle class called Sex Bomb.  It is a terrible song with a fantastic beat.  I probably played it ten times before anyone even noticed how ridiculoust the words are.  I can only hope they no longer notice the music, because they can feel the love with which it is played.
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing . . .But now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.  1 corinthians 13