At some point during every ride, I find myself contemplating the trials, tribulations, and the tragedies of others. Not out of amusement, but out of humility. Mostly, those in my periphery — my friends, family, and acquaintances as well as those I cross paths with via social media.
As I stand out of my saddle and pedal up steep grades or as I glide swiftly down the other sides hoping to pass the cars ahead of me, I chew on the adversity of others much more than I think about my own. In comparison, I often think, I don’t even know what adversity is. This exercise within my exercise, is an excellent daily reminder of how blessed my life is.
More so, it’s a grounding reminder that many I know have interruptions in their own blessings, and that sometimes those interruptions are severe. I love them and I always pray for them.
It’s been 6 years since Gretchen died. She was a friend, in her late 40s, who I often hiked with. One afternoon while walking across the floor of a restaurant on her way from her table to the restroom, she had a heart attack. The EMTs revived her, but she passed away the next morning. Only minutes before, she had texted another friend that she was having one of the best days of her life.
There hasn’t been a week go by in the six years since, that I have not thought about that, at least a little bit.
Several years later, the 13-year-old daughter of another friend passed away suddenly, on her way to family outing with her parents and two brothers. That loss has crossed my mind at least a few times a day, every day sense.
Other adversities start off bleak, but fare a little better, and some ultimately leave the realm of adversity as a description.
Several years ago a friend in Colorado allowed a tree to get between she and one of the better downhill runs she was having that day. She spent several weeks in the hospital, suffered multiple broken bones, a short term head injury, and some permanent scarring on the right side of her face. The scarring is minimal, she is skiing again regularly, and she has since finished college, despite the accident.
She refers to the scars on her face as “The signature of good fortune“.
Because I ride past his house daily, I think of my friend Dave. He was a client who was complaining about shoulder problems about a year ago. He was concerned that our workouts were causing a constant pain he was having under his upper right arm.
After a doctors visit and a couple of referrals, it turned out not to be workout related at all. The shoulder pain was the result of inflamed lymph nodes, the result of of lung cancer that had spread. The initial diagnosis was stark, and he’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s responded to treatment much better than expected. I am hopeful he will deemed cancer-free in the next few months.
For the last few weeks, as I’ve been riding the hills, gliding the straightaways, and dodging broken glass and cars on the roads of North San Diego county, I’ve been thinking about a young man I’ve never met. His initials are G.E. His parents are social media friends who I’ve come to know and appreciate. G.E. was in an automobile accident recently.
One month since his accident, G.E. is now in a rehab facility with a fantastic staff, is making great progress, and recovering from his injuries. G.E.’s current challenges include struggling with balance, a desire to leave his room and wonder, and short-term memory loss. I have a feeling that G.E. is going to make a great recovery. His wonderful parents are committed to helping him overcome the difficulties that lay ahead.
These are just a few examples of the many adversities that have touched me, but have clearly touched those connected to them far more significantly. With each passing year though, there are one or two more. At some point, there might be so many that I’ll be able to think of little else.
The joke in my family is this…
I don’t have to get an annual physical. I just get my blood work done in the emergency room each year when I’m there.
Though I do land in the emergency room every so-often, I’ve been quite fortunate that nothing which has landed me there has caused me too much difficulty. Oh, there have been setbacks, but nothing that approaches the term adversity.
Maybe it’s because I ride by markers each day of my life that display where other cyclists have been struck by cars. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen more than a handful of gurneys being loaded into ambulances driving away from the remains of mangled motorcycles, bikes, and cars. Most likely though, it’s because I know the risks involved with daily cycling, that I think about the adversity of others and the impact it has had on their families and friends.
As much as anything, these daily thoughts remind me of just how good my life is, and how I should strive to protect and appreciate it.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
Bike: Cortez The Killer
16.4 mph avg
Yesterday’s earworm: He’s Misstra Know It All
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 Stevie Wonder. Enjoy…!