It was a cloudless summer day. Michael wandered barefoot in the shade of the pines, wearing his blue khaki shorts and a plain, white t-shirt. He stretched and curled his toes, playing with the grass and the flowers, listening to the birds, the bugs and the creaking in the trees. There was light breeze, the kind of clean air you don’t get near the city. This was life, he thought to himself, as he continued to wander the woods.
After walking for a while he saw in the distance, an odd formation of green. Ahead were a much denser region of forest, brown trunks covered in creeping vines and much taller shrubbery than Michael had ever seen before. There was a small clearing in the middle, a path crossing through it, coming from the left and disappearing to the right, back into the denser shade. If he wanted to go further, it seemed, he would have to follow this path. But Michael liked it where he was, so he chose to stay there in the clearing, simply admiring the nature around him.
There he stood for a little while, until suddenly, off in the distance he noticed a whirring and bumping, like wheels skidding on dry ground. Then came the huffing and puffing of a person who clearly gave it their all. The sound came from up the path, somewhere to the left. And soon enough, the source of the sound was seen. A man on a mountain bike with a fancy gray helmet and sunglasses, red in the face, in a yellow and blue-striped outfit that made him look fast. He barely seemed to notice Michael as he barreled through the clearing and off to the right, rounded a corner and disappeared. The sound of wheels went as quickly as they had come. There are many ways to enjoy nature, Michael thought to himself, but he was glad he wasn’t in such a hurry. As a matter of fact, he decided to sit and wait some more.
It wasn’t long until the whirring and the huffing returned. Once again it came from the right, and just as before, the man appeared, all red in the face. But this time he seemed to notice Michael, turning his head just a few degrees, glancing from behind the sunglasses. As he went off to the right again, Michael could have sworn that the man was picking up speed, if only just a little. Maybe if he sat here for long enough, he would have a chance to talk, to share their enjoyment of nature.
It wasn’t long before he came back around. This time he wasn’t quite as subtle, clearly turning his head and frowning at Michael, aggressively pedaling faster, tailing a cloud of dust behind him. How bizarre. Oh well, there was probably a good explanation, even the more reason to wait for a chance to talk.
Time passed, a little shorter than before, when the man appeared yet again. This time very visibly angry, he snarled at Michael and almost ran him over, passing just inches away from his outstretched feet. Michael stood up, shocked over the aggression but all the more curious as to what was happening. It seemed as if he had somehow angered the man, just by observing him go. Skidding off to the right, the snarl turned into swearing and yelling. Michael started to have second thoughts about staying. If this was any indication of a pattern, what would happen the next time he showed? Yet this was such a strange situation, surely an explanation wouldn’t hurt, then he would go and sit somewhere else, if sitting there was really the problem.
Yet faster again than even before, the man appeared from the left. The swearing and yelling had turned into wheezing and coughing. This time he didn’t speed up, but to Michael’s surprise - and slight worry - actually stopped and got off. Standing there with his back turned for a moment, he proceeded to lift the bike over his head and angrily tossed it into the shrubbery. Then with a sob he fell to his knees and started crying. Puzzled and a little relieved he hadn’t tossed the bike at him, Michael decided to approach the guy to finally get some answers.
‘Excuse me, is everything alright?’ He wanted to rest his hand on the man’s shoulder, but self-preservation told him better.
‘Alright?!’ the man wheezed, turning to frown at Michael. ‘No! Jesus! How am I supposed to be the fastest mountain biker in the world, when you keep catching up to me on foot?!’ He wiped some spittle from the corner of his mouth.
Completely perturbed by this, Michael simply said ‘Sir, you were going in circles. Did you not notice?’
‘Are you making fun of my navigational skills?!’ The man had sprung to his feet, suddenly confrontational. He couldn’t seriously have believed he had been going straight. But that didn’t matter as he leapt and headbutted Michael right in the mouth with his fancy helmet.
This was when Michael woke up. What a weird turn of events. But what speed he had been going. If the man had kept it up, he could probably have become the fastest mountain biker in the world! Yet he had been too preoccupied to look at himself, to see how he went like no one else, despite him going in circles. Goes to show how we should look at ourselves, not each other, when measuring how far we go, Michael concluded. What an excellent lesson in personal growth. He unplugged himself from the charging station. A slight tug in his thoughts signaled that this was not something to talk about. For as far as he knew, his kind was not built to dream.