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MASHUP: Home, Bike, Car Wash...

Cliff or Curb?

"...My home is where I am; my friends are who I'm with..." Her words stayed with me since that night in Arlington, her hair flowing as if suspended and weightless in a fresh, dark, urban night.

I had negotiated my way to the balcony of the theater. For years I've heard about this fest of bike films, which has always sounded a bit bacchanalian to me and more of a feast, perhaps because several years of my mid-life were spent riding and racing and touring and commuting and playing on my bike. The films covered a broad spectrum, using the bike as a lens into the human spirit. The Korean teenager of whom I speak got her 1st bike in 2011 and started to ride around the world...and she's still riding. (If you've ever wondered about why and how one does such a thing, you should check-out her site-- But...back to me.

Her words made me stop and think, and I like words and things that do that--that challenge me in some way, or invite and encourage me to think about something in a different or new way. Maybe they coincide with or reinforce a thought I've had in the back of my mind. I had recently written about the concept of home, so the way the words spoke to me made sense. I think it also has something to do with transitions; transitions that affect my sense of home. There are physical transitions, of course, such as the one that has me in its midst--Primary Lateral Sclerosis. There are those that are physical but more external-- a move out of a house (a home?), out of a town, away from a community, and maybe the toughest for me--living under a different roof than my children. Transitions are not easy; they can be hard and challenging and lonely and exhausting and a whole lot more, but they also come with new possibilities, options and a freshness that can only come with transition and change and...the path of life.

The transition of losing a parent. It was the Spring of 1996, after the fierce winter of my Mom dying. She left me with a gift, and I think of it now as of one of her many gifts to me-- the something that inspired me to watch a bike race in a local office park that Spring. That's where it started-- my passion for bike racing that would become yet another home for me. What a gift she gave me. Impossible to quantify, the gift is organic and continues to give to me now. It gave me community, friends and a new kind of family in a sense. It took me to new places-- like Italy and Switzerland yes, but more important than the physical places it took me are the places it took me in my soul and alive and present. And yes-- a new home... And though I am not able to physically ride a bike today, its spokes will always remain a passion and a love and a home.

So...the week after watching the race, I was on the start line, and before long I was racing 2-3 times per weekend and joining training races at least 1 night during the week. I fell in love with it; it had so many dimensions to explore and learn about-- the history, the tactics, skills, team dynamics, the fatal flaws, and yes-- this was the time of Lance. But one aspect I loved most was bike racing as a metaphor for life. For example, courage and all its dimensions-- physical, emotional, moral, intellectual, social, spiritual courage-- were all on display somehow, and I loved the chance to learn from that and be a better rider-- to be a better person. It's become one of my favorite words, courage. I aspire to show more of it, and to be less weak.

Where is home to you?


IRL: The Car Wash & Barbara...

I pulled up to Fitzy's Car Wash the other day and rolled into line. "You're all set," he said. "Huh?" I thought. Yes, the woman ahead of me had paid for me. "Wow," I thought, and I still think it now. Kindness can be so extraordinary.

On to the Post Office. It had snowed a day or two prior and parking was tight, requiring me to park street-side a block away. A bit of snow prevented me from making it to the sidewalk so I had to walk on the side of the street. (Even a slight, uneven incline is a major hurdle with too much risk.) Taking some carefully measured risk, I declared victory as I made it into the Post Office. I headed out. In an instant I was trapped at the bottom of the steps. (For the most part, I am over the embarrassment of the sometimes precarious situations that invariably accompany patients with PLS. But not always...we'll put that topic in the parking lot for another day.) 

The curb. Although slightly less the scale than a cliff diver in Acapulco, I am sure I feel the same sensations in those pre-dive moments; center yourself, balance, hips forward-- aligned with hips and heals and ears, tighten the core but relax and be calm and Zen, breathe, mental focus. Visualize success. When I am ready, and only when I am ready. (This is one event that requires me to be "black and white;" there is no half-way. I either commit 100% or 0%; anything in the middle is probably a broken bone). As cars at the light looked on, I was moments before the "dive." Hoping for the light to stay red, they tore their unwilling eyes away from their phones as my mind swayed back and forth. No. You need to know when to back off...

"Do you need some help?" came a voice from the heavens. "Yes, I'd love some," I shouted before she could finish her question. One thing I've learned to do quite well is to ask for and say yes to help. It has opened up a whole new world to me. Like kindness, help can be extraordinary. She held my hand as we "summitted" El Cap and she walked me to my car. "I'm Barbara," she said.


OMT (One More Thing)

I saw a headline come across my Inbox the other day, and though I've yet to follow-up on it, I wanted to share it with you because it made me stop and think...perhaps it will do the same for you?

"To Be Happier in Your Relationship, Start Thinking More About It Ending"


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1 Comment

Fabio Piergentili
Apr 09, 2019

You are a true inspiration my friend!

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