“Everything beautiful has a mark of eternity.”

It rained the other day, a few miles into my weekly bicycle ride. It was eleven at night, and the moon hung dreamily amidst twinkling stars. My hopes for a passing shower were quickly dashed, for the heavens soon opened up and unleashed its fury onto me. Being the intrepid, reckless soul I was, and indeed, unwilling to waste any more time, I foolishly decided to set my course for home. Adjusting myself, I put on my cap and pedaled away.

The frigid wind whipped against my torso, each gust leaving behind a trail of rainwater on my shirt. My clothing proved to be inadequate at providing insulation, for water seemed to weave its way past the interwoven fabric effortlessly. My damp attire was akin to a layer of frost, ruthlessly biting at my bare skin. The exertion of continuous pedaling soon got to me, for my muscles bulged and throbbed in contempt. They weren’t ready for such levels of intensity – then again, neither was I. Droplets of water clung onto my lenses, clouding my vision. The headlights of passing cars danced like fireflies before me, each emitting a faint, blurry glow. Frantic groans were emitted by my tires as they struggled to find traction on wet tarmac – a wrong move then could have had fatal consequences.

A final hill was left for me to scale, one that ended mercilessly with a sharp turn. I stood upright, throwing my full body weight into each turn of the pedals. At the peak of the unforgiving slope, my head spun with must have been an intoxicating concoction of adrenalin and exhaustion. I sat back, allowing gravity to do its work as I accelerated downhill. There it was, the godforsaken turn, mere meters away from me. Reaching for the brakes, my fingers slipped, brushing in vain against the metal lever. You know the clichéd description of how time slows to a crawl in times of danger? Well, it did. I imagined how depressingly comical it would be to find my crumped body against a tree and how ironic it would be given that I was the one who planted it. Somehow, I managed to engage the rear brake, leaving a streak of burnt rubber behind me. I wrenched the handlebar to the right, and an arc of water erupted from the base of my rear tire – all before I came to an abrupt stop.

Leaping off my bike, I took a moment to catch my breath. The rain had subsided, much to my irritation, as I had just made it home. The dark clouds that hung so ominously above me dissipated, revealing the gleaming moon. It was a full moon that night, and she gazed cheekily down at me, as if mocking me for my impetuous antics. Now, I could go on and talk about the fragility of life and what I have learned from my misadventure – but that would be an unfitting end to what was, quite simply, a beautiful experience.